Born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, and Martha Redford, who died in 1955, the year he graduated high school, Charles Robert Redford Jr. was a scrappy kid who stole hubcaps in high school and lost his college baseball scholarship at the University of Colorado because of drunkenness. After studying at the Pratt Institute of Art and living the painter's life in Europe, he studied acting in New York at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Lola Van Wagenen (consumer activist) dropped out of college to marry Redford on August 9, 1958; they divorced in 1985 after having four children, one of which died of sudden infant death syndrome. Daughter Shauna Redford, born November 15, 1960, is a painter who married Eric Schlosser on October 5, 1985, in Provo, Utah; her first child, born in January 1991, made Redford a grandfather. Son James Redford, a screenwriter, was born May 5, 1962. Daughter Amy Redford, an actress, was born October 22, 1970. Redford has a brother named William.
TV and stage experience coupled with all-American good looks led to movies and a breakthrough role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), when the actor was 33. The Way We Were (1973) and The Sting (1973), both in 1973, made Redford No. 1 at the box office for the next three years. Redford used his clout to advance environmental causes and his riches to acquire Utah property, which he transformed into a ranch and the Sundance ski resort. In 1980, he established the Sundance Institute for aspiring filmmakers. Its annual film festival has become one of the world's most influential. Redford's directorial debut, Ordinary People (1980), won him the Academy Award for Best Director in 1981. He waited eight years before getting behind the camera again, this time for the screen version of John Nichols' acclaimed novel of the Southwest, The Milagro Beanfield War (1988). He scored with critics and fans in 1992 with the Brad Pitt film A River Runs Through It (1992), and again, in 1994, with Quiz Show (1994), which earned him yet another Best Director nomination.