Born Charles Robert Redford, Jr., he won a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado, but dropped out in 1957, to spend a year travelling and painting in Europe. Eventually, he settled in New York and took up acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Lola Van Wagenen dropped out of college to marry Redford in September 1958 - they divorced in 1985 after having four children, one of whom tragically died of "sudden infant death" syndrome.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Redford worked on several Broadway productions, with his biggest success in Neil Simon's 'Barefoot in the Park'.
He also appeared in several television programmes, and made his film debut in 1962 with 'War Hunt', the antiwar drama set during the Korean conflict.
Following this, he gradually won bigger and better feature roles. He was a bisexual movie star who marries Natalie Wood in 'Inside Daisy Clover', and re-teamed with her a year later, in 1966, for Sydney Pollack's 'This Property Is Condemned'.
His leap into stardom came in 1967, when he again starred opposite Jane Fonda, in the movie version of 'Barefoot in the Park'. He reaffirmed his star status two years later with his fantastic performance, opposite Paul Newman, in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'.
Redford didn't trade on his "pretty-boy" looks but, instead, sought out challenging and intelligent film projects, from 'Downhill Racer' and 'Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here' to 'The Candidate'.
In 1973, he re-teamed with Paul Newman for the con-artist comedy 'The Sting' (for which he earned his first Oscar nomination) and struck box office gold, opposite Barbra Streisand, in 'The Way We Were'.
He 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, and its annual film festival has become one of the world's most influential.
He also moved behind the camera that same year, to make his directing debut with 'Ordinary People', a highly charged drama about the slow disintegration of a middle-class family, which won him an Academy Award for his efforts.
Besides his directing and producing duties, Redford did not stop acting. He made a fine romantic lead, opposite Meryl Streep, in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning 'Out of Africa' in 1985.
He also earned Oscar nominations for directing and co-producing the superbly crafted 'Quiz Show' (1994). A year later he announced the formation of Sundance Cinemas, a chain of cinemas that will only show independent films.
Redford continued to pick and choose his roles throughout the following years, starring in 'The Horse Whisperer' in 1998 with Kristin Scott Thomas, which he also directed. Other notable roles included 2001's ‘Spy Game’, in which he starred alongside Brad Pitt, whom many saw as his natural successor in the world of cinema. Redford also had a leading role in the 2007 Tom Cruise drama 'Lions for Lambs', which looked at the political turmoil in the Middle East and the role of the US in Afghanistan, among other hard-hitting issues. He picked up his second Oscar in 2002, scooping the coveted Lifetime Achievement award. His latest big release was 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' in 2014.
He also continued to promote independent films, setting up the Sundance Channel in 1996 and patronising the Sundance Film Festival. Some of the most notable directors to have received their big break at the annual event include Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Paul Thomas Anderson, Stephen Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky and Edward Burns. In 2010, nine films that debuted at Sundance went on to receive 15 Oscar nominations between them, highlighting the stature that the festival now holds in the US and international film industry.
Redford also kept up his political activism and environmental work, lending his voice to the documentary 'Sacred Planet' in 2004, and narrating the tour of some of the world's most exotic locations. In 2009, he also wed his long-term partner Sibylle Szaggars, with whom he had been living in Utah since the 1990s.
Redefining Redford - Robert Redford: The Biography by Michael Feeney Callan
In this biography -- written with Redford's personal papers, journals, script notes, correspondence, and hundreds of hours of taped interviews -- Michael Feeney Callan strips away the Hollywood facade, exposing the complicated, surprising man beneath. This is a fascinating exploration of one of our most celebrated and least understood public figures, and an essential read for anyone interested in the rocky road to Hollywood.
Rediscover a classic Western - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed trains, banks and stole horses in the 1890s Wild West. Their characters were immortailised in this 1969 film bearing their name and starring the '60s film idols Paul Newman as Butch and Robert Redford as the Kid.