Who could ever ever forget Robert Redford’s off-the-charts charisma in classic movies like Barefoot in the Park, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Way We Were? In the ’60s and ’70s, there was no one more charming or handsome than a young Robert Redford, and today, at age 87, he is a living legend.
Born Charles Robert Redford Jr. in Santa Monica, California, the handsome blond star started out as a high school bad boy. He soon developed an interest in art and spent time traveling in Europe, eventually landing back in the US and pursuing artistic studies in New York. From there, he started taking acting classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the late ’50s.
Like many other actors of the day, Redford found work on TV and the stage. He guest-starred on numerous TV dramas including Maverick, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone and more. After a few years of steady TV appearances, Redford made the leap to the big screen, and he soon became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand stars due to his magnetic looks and confident performances.
Here’s a look back at some of the most iconic Robert Redford movies, along with an update on what he’s been doing lately.
Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
While this melodrama, starring Natalie Wood as the title character, didn’t do well at the box office, it gave Redford one of his earliest movie roles and earned him a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.
This Property is Condemned (1966)
A year later, Redford would again star alongside Natalie Wood in This Property Is Condemned, another romantic drama that received mixed reviews.
The Chase (1966)
Redford played a man on the run from prison in this ’60s classic, which also starred Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda.
Barefoot In the Park (1967)
One of Redford’s earliest successes came in 1963, when he starred in the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s play Barefoot in the Park. Four years later, in 1967, the play was adapted into a movie, starring Jane Fonda as Redford’s free-spirited wife.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a generation-defining success that made Redford a household name. Initially, Paul Newman was the bigger star, but Redford’s swaggering performance cemented his A-list status and perfectly captured the rebellious spirit of the ’60s.
The Candidate (1972)
In The Candidate, Redford explored his interest in politics, playing an idealistic candidate for senate in a seemingly unwinnable race.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Redford went back to nature (and rocked a full beard) in his role as a legendary 19th-century mountain man.
The Way We Were (1973)
Often considered one of the most classic love stories of all time, The Way We Were paired Redford and Barbra Streisand in a touching opposites-attract period romance.
The Sting (1973)
The Sting brought the iconic duo of Redford and Paul Newman back together. This period crime caper was a major success, and earned Redford his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Redford and Newman were real-life friends, and their chemistry comes through in this entertaining con artist tale.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Redford served up ’20s suaveness in the big-screen adaptation of the classic novel The Great Gatsby.
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
In the ’70s, paranoid political dramas were all the rage, and Redford starred in this tense spy thriller alongside Faye Dunaway.
All The President’s Men (1976)
This ripped-from-the-headlines political drama starred Redford and Dustin Hoffman as real-life Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The film is widely regarded as one of the best of the decade, and was nominated for many Oscars.
The Electric Horseman (1979)
This satirical Western starred Redford as a champion rodeo rider turned sellout.
Ordinary People (1980)
Redford made a triumphant debut as a director with this heartrending family drama. The movie, which starred Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton, won four Academy Awards, including a Best Director award for Redford.
Out of Africa (1985)
Redford and Meryl Streep shared the screen in Out of Africa, an epic historical romance that was hugely popular. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture.
A River Runs Through It (1992)
Redford was one of the biggest hunk of the ’60s and ’70s, and Brad Pitt was one of the biggest hunks of the ’90s and beyond. In 1992, Redford gave Pitt one of his earliest major roles in the historical drama A River Runs Through It.
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
Redford directed and starred in this Western drama, which gave a young Scarlett Johansson one of her first big roles.
All Is Lost (2013)
This intense drama featured Redford as the sole cast member. Playing a man lost at sea and fighting the elements, Redford barely had any dialogue, but the power of his performance showed he could still carry a movie many decades into his career.
The Old Man & The Gun (2018)
Redford starred alongside Sissy Spacek in this scrappy crime film. The story had echoes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, and represented a full-circle moment for the actor, as he announced his retirement from after the film’s release. Thankfully, he isn’t fully retired, as he’s contributed voiceover work to a couple films since then and made an appearance in The Avengers: Endgame.
What Robert Redford is up to today
Redford is more than just a great actor. He’s directed 10 films, and founded the Sundance Institute in 1981. The annual Sundance Film Festival has become the country’s largest festival for independent films.
Redford has long been passionate about using his success to help others, and created Sundance as a way to give undiscovered filmmakers their start. As he put it, “Even if I’d been in the mainstream in my career I was always interested in the alternative point of view, in the idea of independence, not to be obligated to be this or that, to be free to be what you wanted to be.”
Redford may not be starring in movies anymore, but his impact remains undeniable. His work as an actor gave voice to a generation, while his behind-the-scenes work in filmmaking, activism and supporting independent cinema have further solidified him as a true class act. Now nearing 90, Redford remains as vital as ever, and he still possesses an undeniable charm.
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