in , ,

Robert Redford’s life keeps getting sadder and sadder

Robert Redford is still steaming ahead well into his eighties and keeping busy. You won’t believe he’s one of the last surviving stars to have gotten their big break during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Very little is known about Robert Redford’s personal life despite being in the Academy Awards as a filmmaker and actor, founding the Sundance independent film festival, winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a career spanning over six decades.

Keep watching to find out how Robert Redford’s life keeps getting sadder and sadder.

Robert Redford Had Polio

Robert Redford contracted polio at a young age. It wasn’t a severe case but he was still forced to spend several weeks in bed after overexerting himself during an ocean swim as an 11-year-old.

Redford would go on to pay tribute to Jonas Salk, the inventor of the vaccine, in a 2014 short film. The Oscar winner directed a part of the 3D documentary Cathedrals of Culture about San Diego’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

He recalls, “I was around when the polio epidemic was still a threat … so when Jonas Salk invented the vaccine, it was just earth-shattering news.”

He told NPR in 2018 that the mid-1940s was a scary time to fall victim to the condition.  “Before the Salk vaccine was discovered, what hung over your childhood was always the fear of polio because all you saw were people in iron lungs.”

After 2020, we can all relate in a small way to the horror of contracting a death-sentence illness like Polio.

Robert Redford Nearly Died on a Dare

Robert Redford doesn’t strike people as a James Dean rebel without a cause, but it turns out he was a bit of a handful.

The now respectable Hollywood star spent much of his high school years causing trouble with a street gang in his hometown of Van Nuys. The future Academy Award winner was challenged to jump off a relatively high building by the gang in order to prove he was “manly”.

As Redford said in his biography, “Facing down fears hit home early … You have two choices, it seemed to me. You can be led by your fears, or you can overcome them.”

The fun stopped when Redford was caught by police at age 16 with stolen jewelry in the car. His father Charlie was able to convince the officers neither of them knew anything about it, though.

Robert Redford Lost His Mother at the Doorstep of Adulthood

At the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, which he helped found in 1978, Robert Redford had those attending the Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration in tears.

He paid an emotional tribute to his mother, Martha Redford, who passed away in 1955. Dying from a hemorrhage at the age of only 40, Redford was sad to have taken her for granted at the time. The death was linked at the time to a blood disorder from a stillbirth of twin daughters in 1947.

The Hollywood star admitted he hadn’t made life easy for his mother, but she never gave up on him. “She believed that all things considered, she just had faith that I had something in me that was going to turn out okay.” Martha, sadly, didn’t get to see her undying faith in her son repaid.

Robert went on to sing his mom’s praises further, complimenting her smile, adventurous spirit, and positive attitude.

“I took [her] for granted because that’s the way kids were at that age. My regret is that she passed away before I could thank her,” he said.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

Robert Redford Lost a Father Figure

In his early years, Robert Redford had a father figure that kept his heart golden. Redford missed out on spending time with his father, Charles, due to his long and bad hours as a milkman.

Robert instead developed a close bond with his uncle, David. The two spent time together throwing a football around similar to father-and-son relationships.

Robert, though, was robbed of his “Second Father” after being drafted into World War II. Part of General Patton’s Third Army, he lost his life in 1945 after the Jeep he was traveling the Luxembourg bridge in was caught in the crossfire.

Is Robert Redford’s life more sad and tragic than you thought? Make sure to hit the like button and subscribe to keep finding out more about your favorite celebrities with Facts Verse.

Robert Redford Got Kicked Out of University

Robert Redford may have been finished with the life of a criminal as he entered his late teens, but that didn’t mean he was ready to become an upstanding member of society. While attending the University of Colorado, the future star built quite the party boy reputation.

In Michael Callan Feeney’s 2011 book, Robert Redford: The Biography, he wrote, “Redford had become beloved in the drinking circles but was regarded as a loose cannon.” He was kicked out of the university after just 18 months.

That wasn’t the end of Redford’s education, though. After losing his scholarship, he spent time learning how to paint in both Florence and Paris and later studied at New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Robert Redford Loses a Child

Things appeared to be going well for Robert Redford toward the end of the 1950s. He’d just become a married man after walking down the aisle with Lola Van Wagenen. He also made his Broadway debut in Tall Story, and became a parent for the first time with the birth of son Scott.

Tragically, his world would come crashing down one day in November 1959 when the ten-week-old Scott passed away from a condition that would later be termed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. It’s still not known what causes SIDS, though many factors have been identified in the syndrome.

This understandably shook Redford deeply, who believed he was responsible for not checking in on the baby earlier. It would take him more than half a century to open up about the grief he experienced to the public.

Robert Redford Almost Loses a Second Son

Just three years after his firstborn son Scott’s tragic death, Robert Redford was forced to face the very real prospect of losing his second. Lola, his wife, also had her life hanging in the balance, too.

In 1962, David James Redford was born prematurely with the HMD, or Hyaline Membrane Disease. This is the same condition that had robbed John F. Kennedy of his second son, Patrick.

According to Robert Redford, David Redford was only given a 40 percent chance of survival after being diagnosed. Luckily, the boy and his mother both managed to pull through. “It was a colossal relief for us,” Robert explained.

The Boyfriend of Robert Redford’s Daughter Was Murdered

Tragedy struck Robert Redford’s family again, especially his daughter, once again in 1983. In a still somewhat unsolved mystery, Shauna Redford’s journalism student boyfriend Sid Wells was fatally shot in the back of his head at his University of Colorado apartment.

Robert Redford attended Wells’ funeral after initially deciding to keep away from fears of press intrusion. Though, he was too devastated by the loss to stay away, wanting to honor his daughter’s boyfriend’s memory.

His roommate Thayne Smika was due to pay rent that day. Smika was soon named as the number one suspect for the shocking murder. Although he was arrested, the lack of evidence meant that Smika wasn’t charged or indicted by a grand jury.

Incredibly, he hasn’t been seen since 1986! Smika’s car was found abandoned in Beverly Hills that year, with reports suggesting he may have fled America altogether.

The plot thickened in 2010 when new evidence emerged for a case review. Despite issuing age-progressed mugshots to the public and a more concerted effort to find him, Smika still remains at large.

In 1997, Redford said that he’s still very much haunted by the incident: “It’s like a partially opened door with a very dark room behind it.”

Robert Redford’s 1985 Divorce

Back in the mid-1980s, Robert Redford and Lola Van Wagenen appeared to have one of the most stable marriages in Hollywood. After overcoming the tragic death of their first-born son, Scott to have three other children, Shauna, James, and Amy.

In 2001, 16 years after the split, the star told The Telegraph that the relationship had come to its end. “It was mutual and it was right to move on. We still have great love, great affection, great friendship. It is wonderful, and I think we probably deserve credit for it because the kids are great, they came through it okay. I never wanted to be one of those divorced showbusiness casualties — so predictable! I wanted to prove that a marriage could last and prove the business wrong. But I couldn’t.”

Robert Redford’s Other Son Dies From Liver Cancer

No parent should outlive their children, let alone two. But that’s what happened for Redford in October 2020 when son James passed away from liver cancer at the age of only 58.

David James Redford had suffered from liver problems throughout his life. He underwent liver transplant surgery in 1993 and later founded an institute for awareness about the procedure. Sadly, while awaiting a new transplant in 2019, the documentary filmmaker was diagnosed with bile-duct cancer.

In a statement given to People magazine, publicist Cindi Berger revealed that Robert was “mourning with his family during this difficult time and asks for privacy. The grief is immeasurable with the loss of a child. Jamie was a loving son, husband and father. His legacy lives on through his children, art, filmmaking and devoted passion to conservation and the environment.”

Robert Redford’s other tragedies likely pale in comparison to the loss of both of his sons.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below about which is worse: Losing two father figures and your mother or losing two children?Did you find out more about Robert Redford the enigmatic movie star and director? If so, hit that like button and make sure to subscribe for more!

Rip Alaskan bush people dad, Billy Brown

RIP Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music Star & Actor