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Among the most widely admired Hollywood stars of his generation, Redford has appeared onstage and on-screen, in front of and behind the camera, earning Academy, Golden Globe, and a multitude of other awards and nominations for acting, directing, and producing, and for his contributions to the arts. His Sundance Film Festival transformed the world of filmmaking; his films defined a generation. America has come to know him as the ...
Among the most widely admired Hollywood stars of his generation, Redford has appeared onstage and on-screen, in front of and behind the camera, earning Academy, Golden Globe, and a multitude of other awards and nominations for acting, directing, and producing, and for his contributions to the arts. His Sundance Film Festival transformed the world of filmmaking; his films defined a generation. America has come to know him as the Sundance Kid, Bob Woodward, Johnny Hooker, Jay Gatsby, and Roy Hobbs. But only now, with this revelatory biography, do we see the surprising and complex man beneath the Hollywood façade.
From Redford's personal papers--journals, script notes, correspondence--and hundreds of hours of taped interviews, Michael Feeney Callan brings the legendary star into focus. Here is his scattered family background and restless childhood, his rocky start in acting, the death of his son, his star-making relationship with director Sydney Pollack, the creation of Sundance, his political activism, his artistic successes and failures, his friendships and romances. This is a candid, surprising portrait of a man whose iconic roles on-screen (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, The Natural) and directorial brilliance (Ordinary People, Quiz Show) have both defined and obscured one of the most celebrated, and, until now, least understood, public figures of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
Robert Redford's early life was dominated by women. They were not the women of New England, but women of the West. His mother, Martha Hart Redford, was, he says, the center of his universe. She taught him to drive when he was eight, taught him to draw, to role-play in games. She connected him with the past, introducing him to Native Americans on Navajo reservations in Arizona and to Yosemite. These conjunctions came naturally to her, because she was the stuff of the West, descended from Texans who were, in spirit, the polar opposite of the Redfords. A century before, the Harts and Greens of the maternal family line lived a frontier life along the Mississippi Valley, religiously random, indulgent, drifting. The Harts were Galway-Irish, the Greens Scots-Irish, and both families came to America through the southern colonies in the mid-eighteenth century. The Harts followed the frontier to Missouri; the Greens followed the money to Boston. While the Harts drifted, the Greens built one of the first large-scale printing presses in Boston in 1790. When a similarly ambitious undertaking in Arkansas failed, George Green set out with his family by wagon train in 1853 to settle lands near Austin, Texas. Along with three partners, he founded a new town called San Marcos. In no time George, a slave owner, had established mining interests and a loan company. His son, Edwin Jeremiah, known to all as Ed, was twelve when they set up in Texas. By the age of twenty he had expanded the family's businesses into every variety of service provision for miners across the region. He also built Green's Anglican Church next door to the family bank. During his service in the Confederate army, young Ed's wife died and he married her sister, Eliza Jane, who bore him six children, including Eugene, Robert Redford's maternal great-grandfather. As San Marcos's fortunes grew during Reconstruction, Ed became a legendary figure, a titan of the local business world. Among his social circle was another celebrated ex--Confederate officer, Zachariah P. Bugg, the sheriff of a Tennessee township. Zach's daughter Mattie married Eugene in 1891. Out of this union came Sallie Pate Green, Robert Redford's grandmother.
Sallie Pate's childhood was one of privilege and tragedy. Eugene Green followed his father into mining and banking, but died suddenly at twenty, when his daughter was just months old. Shortly after, his teenage widow, Mattie, died of typhoid. Ed became de facto father to Sallie and rechristened her Mattie, in memory of her mother. She was the apple of his eye. In 1896, when Sallie was three, Ed's wife passed away. Shortly afterward he married Alice Young Bohan, a recently widowed sister of his former wives. Alice was affectionate but not maternal, and Ed was sixty-five; it was Sallie's good fortune that the black wet nurse, Nicey, a Green household fixture since her own childhood, became an affectionate substitute mother.
In 1909, as Sallie turned sixteen, America's fascination with the new automotive culture, started ten years before by Henry Ford, was peaking. That fall, Sallie attended a county fair advertising a race for custom roadsters, one of dozens held across the country. The race was won by the Bluebird, the handiwork of a shoe salesman turned inventor/mechanic, recently arrived from El Paso, named Tot Hart. Having won the attention of Sallie and the rest of the Green family, he was invited by them to dinner.
Archibald "Tot" Hart was, like the Greens, of a western cut. His father, John Gabriel, was a traveling salesman from Spotsylvania, Virginia, who married an Ohioan, Ida Woodruff, in Missouri in 1885. In 1897, when Tot was eight, his father succumbed to...