Robert Redford’s ‘immeasurable grief’ in outliving two of his children: ‘Scar never heals’ | Films | Entertainment

Robert Redford and Jane Fonda reunite for Our Souls at Night

The 85-year-old is acting royalty, having starred in critical and box office hits including ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ in the Sixties, as well as the blockbuster crime caper ‘The Sting’ four years later. Behind the camera he also won a Best Director Oscar for ‘Ordinary People’, which was one of the most critically and publicly acclaimed films of the Eighties, while he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award two decades later. While being one of the most beloved actors of the Hollywood Renaissance period, and a founder of the lauded Sundance Film Festival, away from the spotlight Redford has endured lasting heartache.

Two years ago the Hollywood legend lost his son James Redford, an activist and filmmaker, to liver cancer. 

Upon the death of the 58-year-old, Cindi Berger, Redford’s publicist, said: “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.”

The statement continued: “Robert Redford is mourning with his family during this difficult time and asks for privacy.”

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Redford outlived two of his children (Image: Getty)


Redford is the star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Image: Getty)

While he suffered immeasurable heartbreak after the loss of James, it was not the first time he had lost a child. 

Redford welcomed his first born son Scott with ex-wife Lola Van Wagenen in September 1959.

However, just two months later horror struck after Scott died of sudden infant death syndrome. 

As per The Mirror, Redofrd later said: “It was really hard. 


James Redford died age 58 (Image: Getty)

“We were young. I had my first theatre job, which didn’t pay much. 

“We didn’t know anything about sudden infant death syndrome so as a parent you blame yourself. 

“It creates a scar that never completely heals.” 

Redford and Van Wagenen held an intimate funeral for Scott in Utah following the tragedy. 

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Redford and Van Wagenen

Redford and Van Wagenen lost their first child 10 weeks after his birth (Image: Getty)

Just three years later, Jamie was born seven weeks premature, and suffered a respiratory problem which proved almost fatal. 

Then, as a teenager, Jamie developed ulcerative colitis.

He not only needed his colon removed but also had to undergo two liver transplants by the time he was 30. 

When the first transplant failed there was a desperate 12 week search for a compatible organ, which the Hollywood actor later described as the worst weeks of his life.

RObert redford

Redford became one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood (Image: Getty)

The Redford family was faced with more tragedy in 1983 after his daughter Shauna’s fiancé, Sid Wells, was found dead, shot in the back of the head. 

According to The Mirror, Redford later said: “The hardest thing is when your children have problems. 

“There have been so many hits on our family no one knows about and I don’t want them to for my family’ sake.”

Redford’s first taste of grief came when he was 18, when his mother Martha died aged just 40, after having stillborn twins. 

In response he turned to drink and was subsequently expelled from the University of Colorado. 

Redford, who had a baseball scholarship at the time, was caught stealing beer from shops, and breaking into empty homes to drink all night. 

However he subsequently enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Art, fell in love with acting and met his first wife van Wagenen. 

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