Pain Of His Life: Inside Robert Redford's Loss Of His Firstborn And Other Tragedies That Haunt His Memory

Date January 16, 2019 10:41

Robert Redford is one of the few remaining old Hollywood legends. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful actors to ever grace the big screen, Redford always preferred to keep his personal life private so as to not damage his heartthrob reputation.


But there is an overwhelming amount of pain behind his wide smile. Perhaps, the actor lived through worse tragedies than any of his characters ever encountered.


Only in 2011, when the world saw the first ever biography about Robert Redford, written by Michael Feeney, the actor started to open up about the loss of his son and other heartbreaking experiences he'd lived through.

Losing the most sacred

Robert Redford was only 22 years old when he married his first wife, Lola Van Wagenen. The couple was looking forward to bright future together and were overjoyed when Lola gave birth to their firstborn, Scott, a year after their wedding.


But the bliss of caring for their newborn was short-lived. Their baby boy suddenly passed away only 10 weeks after entering this world. Scott died of sudden infant death syndrome, so Redford and his wife were left with a devastating feeling of loss and helplessness. As Robert told AARP:

It was really hard. We were very young. I had my first theater job, which didn't pay much. We didn't know anything about SIDS, so the only thing you think is that you've done something wrong. As a parent, you tend to blame yourself. That creates a scar that probably never completely heals.


The couple had to move on with their lives and shortly after welcomed their second child, Shauna Jean, in 1960. They had two more kids: David James, born in 1962, and Amy Hart, born in 1970.

© The Candidate (1972) / Warner Bros.

By the time Amy was born, Robert was already conquering Hollywood in full swing. He focused on his career but never let his family out of his mind. Deep inside, he still had the dread of something happening to one of his other children, and another tragedy struck not long after.


When David James was 15 years old, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which meant he needed his colon removed, and faced two liver transplants before the age of 30. The actor fought for his son's life, knowing he couldn't lose another one. Luckily, they were able to save David James' life despite how excruciatingly difficult it was.


Passing of his mother

As a parent, Robert Redford has lived through terrible things, but he'd also suffered a loss before he started his own family.

Reford's mother, Martha, passed away when he was only 18. She never witnessed his rise to stardom and could never be there for him during difficult times.

No one ever knows what hides behind the blinding smiles of Hollywood stars, and Robert Redford is one of the most heartbreaking examples.