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Robert Redford: The Biography

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  324 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Robert Redford is among the most widely admired Hollywood stars of his generation, renowned for his iconic roles as the Sundance Kid, Bob Woodward and Jay Gatsby, and celebrated for his fierce commitment to environmental causes, independent filmmaking, and his Sundance Film Festival. Yet only now, in this revelatory biography written in close collaboration with the extraor ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Vintage (first published September 2000)
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B the BookAddict
Apr 20, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: myself
Shelves: biography-memoir

Michael Feeney Callan is such an excellent biographer; I was lucky enough to already be in thrall of the subject, the gorgeous Mr Charles Robert Redford, but even if I were not, this would still make an enormously good read. Ten years in the making with lots of family history, instances not involving his film career including his work in the Sundance wilderness conservation, personal anecdotes and some great piccies. I will read other biographies by Mr Callan. Altogether a 4.5 read.
Although an actor who saw his biggest success before I was even born, Robert Redford has always held some mystery for me. After living in Provo, I became more intrigued with his concept of Sundance and how it came to be. A reclusive sort of fellow in that he doesn't grant interviews very often, the public at large doesn't know much more about Robert Redford (or Bob, as he's referred to in the book) than what they get on the movie screen.

I found the writing rather tedious. So many stories seem to
I have mixed feelings about this book. I have a lot of connections to the subject. I've enjoyed many of Redford's films over the years. I was raised in Provo and spent a lot of time at Sundance. I know quite a few people who are friends with Redford and/or have worked closely with him. And I've admired Redford as a supporter of independent film and an environmental activist. So I picked up this book because I already had an interest in Redford, and I wanted to know more about what makes him tick ...more
Joy H.
Added 10/24/12.
I listened to the audio version of this book during October and November 2012. Interesting and enjoyable.

“Revealing . . . Intriguing . . . An all-American beautiful jock with a brutal iron will and the soul of a visionary tyrant, Redford, under Callan’s gaze, emerges as a sui generis* American figure. A gripping, intimate treatment of one of cinema’s last great iconic stars.” -Kirkus

*[Sui generis is a Neo-Latin expression, literally meaning "of its own kind/genus", or unique in it
It is shocking to find that an autobiography from a political figure [George Bush] can be so amusing and interesting and then to find a biography about one of the biggest movie icons in my lifetime can be so boring!!! I have been in awe of Redford since he appeared in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and was so excited to read this book. How disappointing in both the book and him.

The author devoted the first chapter to his parents, grandparents and other ancestors and the last chapter to a 'l
High Plains Library District
Happy Birthday, Robert Redford!

In honor of one of my favorite people on this planet I want to suggest this biography.

But if this bio doesn't ring your bell - then I suggest you pick some person, anybody, that fascinates you and read their biography and/or memoir. I find it enlightening and somewhat humbling to read about other people and what fuels them.

Deborah Fisher
I love reading biographies. As a Redford fan It seemed time that I learned more about him than the public persona. I'm sorry I did. Now I don't care for him at all. It appears he is unable to see beyond his own nose. The book is filled with political statements that reflect his inability to connect with real people. Although a few years younger than him, we viewed many of the same historical events. My feet were in the trenches of surviving and his feet were bound by his success. I loved JFK, RF ...more
It took biographer Michael Feeney Callan ten years, using interviews and correspondence with more than three hundred people connected with Robert Redford’s world, several interviews over a fourteen year period with the iconic star himself, not to mention the actor’s own diaries since 1957, to bring “The Sundance Kid’s” story to life.

These twenty-four chapters, spanning 398 pages, cover nearly fifty years of Redford’s career as an actor and or director between 1962 and 2011. Fans and trivia buffs
Susan Thompson
It's been years and years since I last read a biography. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to read more of them. Anyway, I started this when I was driving back from Big Sur and while it started off reading like a history book (ie in the year ___ he did ___ and in the year ___ he went and did ___). Not exactly gripping stuff. But it did talk about Big Sur, CA so in my own way I thought it was rather timely. Anyway, I stuck with it, I don't like to be bested by a book, and I'm really glad that ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Jake rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jake by: Public Library
By way of confession, I approached Robert Redford the biography in an attitude of hero worship. Since childhood, I have unquestionably regarded him as an iconic American actor. The first time I watched he and Paul Newman go into haunting freeze frame at the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is etched in my mind. My parents used The Natural as a practical tool for schooling me in allegory. While a college student in Utah, I felt the Redford mystique grow during regular trips into Salt Lak ...more
Meijer Bjorn
The biography of Robert Redford shares the beauty marks and blemishes of the subjects movie career and political activism.

This is the first biography I have read from Micheal Callan. I am impressed by the effort, detail, and openness he has achieved in this biography.

Holladay starts the investigation way, waaaay back in time to the 1600's. Possibly the evolutionary beginnings of the Redford clan. It quickly focuses on Robert's beginnings and moves forward through his life experiences.

If you w
Adrian Carpio
One of my favorite actors and directors has always been Robert Redford. His movies always seemed to touch a chord in me. This biography solidifies his stature in my life. Redford has been accused of being arrogant, reclusive, incapable of making decisions. While those characterizations may be true, it doesn't matter. The guy makes great movies.

His roles and the movies he decides to produce or direct show what his truth is: the struggle of real people in the face of what society forces on us.

Redford's life has been a most interesting of the top Hollywood film stars of his generation, he may become best known as the man who created the Sundance Film Festival...Callan looks at the life of a man who began as a troubled youth growing up in LA. As a young man, he went to Europe to develop his artistic talents, only to return home as a failure. But he discovered his talent as an actor in plays and then movies. The 1967 "Barefoot in the Park" with Jane Fonda was his first big hit ...more
Tough and Radical Golden Boy

When I began reading this pre-publication biography of Robert Redford, I thought I would be learning about a laid-back guy from California who fell into acting via the gift of his good looks combined with perfect timing. Not so. His life totally surprised me. I know he is a conservationist with liberal political leanings, but I was not aware of the layers of this man's ambition and intellect.

Brought up without money by a wonderful, supportive mother and a critical fa
I got this book for Christmas, and was really looking forward to reading it, I took the excuse of the snow last weekend to actually do pretty much nothing but read!

We start off with a bit of a history lesson that put me in mind of 'The Nearest Faraway Place' By Timothy White, who delved into the heritage of Brian Wilson, I like this style as it shows us the stock as it were that made these people so great!

Redford has Irish heritage that he was very proud of, he also became very interested in th
Michelle Llewellyn
Made it as far as Chapter 14-kept falling asleep-impatient for the 80's and Redford's best work to get here. Callan delivers some of what I'd hoped but still left me wanting more. As a Utah resident the only good thing about Jeremiah Johnson is the scenery, sorry Pollack (may he rest in peace), but the whole storyline sucks. In fact, that entire movie reminds me of this book-male chauvinist and dry, long winded narration. So I skipped ahead to my two favorite Redford movies-Out of Africa and Th ...more
James Biser
This is a good biography. I have seen Redford many times, as I live near Sundance, but I have always been curious about how he has come to be the man, producer, actor and activist we have come to know. This biography takes the reader through his life from his parents' history, his time living and coming to be part of many homes and families. I recently read Paul Newman's biography. It was a perfect time to read the story of his brother, Bob.
Here it is, halfway through October and I'm just recording my first book. That's what I get for trying to read two books at one time. The first one completed was Robert Redford's biography by a writer who also penned biographies for Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Richard Harris and Julie Christie. I had a hard time starting out with this one because the early history leading up to the star's birth made me realize he is 75 years old. Just. Not. Possible. And his career is, of course, so much more ...more
I have liked Robert Redford. He has made many movies I have loved and some that were boring as wallpaper. However I think he only picks projects and movies that are meaningful to him and that Hollywood does not run his life. I respect that. He supports the arts by having the Sundance Film Festival where lesser known movies can be showcased and then be shown to the public.
Lisa Hagan
Exceptionally well written and engaging. I have been a huge fan of Robert Redford's since I was a teenager and I still am.

I thought Michael Feeney Callan did an outstanding job of capturing Bob's voice in sharing the stories of how be became a man, to make movies and his environmental causes. I knew nothing of his personal life or how passionate he was about every project that he took on and why he took them on. The background information on the making of all of my favorite films was riveting.
This book reminds me that reading bios of other people is inspiring. Ok, ok - I'm totally biased when it comes to anything RR related. However, reading this new bio helped me understand why my crush on this guy runs deeper than his strawberry-blonde locks and charming smile. The guy is a rebellious maverick who stubbornly focuses on his visions and dreams. He is willing to go against the "popular norm" of Hollywood and even his friends - What's not to like? The book doesn't candy-coat his disapp ...more
It took the author 10 years with unlimited access to Mr. Redford's friends and family and this book was more like a chronological walk through Redford's life. It talked about his passion for Utah, the wilderness etc. But this book was passionless.
I thought I was going to read a type of People Magazine book about a Hollywood Star whose movies I have enjoyed over the years. (Oh what the heck, most women my age have always considered him a heart-throb--so I was expecting a certain amount of fluff and I really didn't care.) What I found, instead was a thoughtful, Redford prospective about his life and work. The book is arranged in a consecutive format with family history and growing up, and then moving through his life and movies, political ...more
Robert Redford is a rather elusive actor. His contemporary movies are few and far between and aside from his participation at Sundance and its annual film festival, you don't really hear about him in the news. He is one of my favorite actors (I may be only 30 but "The Way We Were" and "The Sting" are two of my favorite films) so it was a wonderful opportunity to get inside his head, which is not an exaggeration since biographer Michael Feeney Callan frequently quotes Redford's own personal journ ...more
Scott Golden
Thoroughly researched, very informative look into the life of perhaps the ultimate 'movie star who wants to be known and remembered for being more than just a pretty face'. And he has been more, much more, than that.
While biographies are not what I typically read, I found this one lacking. I realize Redford is elusive, but felt the book to be more of a chronology of the events leading from making one movie to the next. Too much emphasis on quotes from the movie types, directors, producers, etc., and not enough about family life and Sundance. I appreciate Redford's environmental and conservation efforts, and for me that will a more important legacy than the films, as I suspect it will be for him. Jeremiah Jo ...more
Tedious read. Because Redford authorized this biography, it felt like the author had to include a lot of detail about every film to tell all sides. The early years of the actor's childhood growing up in L.A. was great to read, especially the relationship with his parents. To Redford's credit, the book doesn't necessarily paint a great picture of him. He wasn't around much as a husband/father, was very difficult on every project and a constant loner, not always responsive to those who needed him. ...more
I'm torn on this one between giving it one star (didn't like it) and two stars (it was okay). I think my opinion is actually somewhere in between. This would've been much better if the author had let up on some of the more tedious details and names and had delved a little further into topics such as his wife & family life, his role as a sex-idol, any criticism of his acting/personality/anything. What really bothered me most of all was the contrast between the plodding writing style, and the ...more
Barefoot in the Park was one of my favorite movies growing up and although I know about Redford's environmental work, I knew him mostly as Gatsby. I had no idea that he started Sundance, although I was getting his western wear catalog for a time.

This book was so enlightening but it focuses heavily on Redford's career and politics. Anyone wishes for a closer look into his private life will be disappointed, but I think the author does a fine job of describing who Redford really is: a workaholic,
Check out my review in Spanish:

Either there is no humanity in Robert Redford and he is nothing more than a film person; or this biography fails to show the human being and concentrates only in the making of a lot of the films he has been related to. I think it is the later. This is an interesting book about how many of RR's movies have been filmed; and what role he played in them (actor; producer; director; etc.); but; in my opinion; it fails to show the
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Michael Feeney Callan is an Irish born poet, novelist and filmmaker, also known for his biographical writing.

He wrote the template Irish TV police procedural series The Burke Enigma, then went on to write for ITV's The Professionals and adapt Frederick Forsyth stories for PBS. He was story editor at BBC TV Drama in London, where he edited the series, Shoestring, and at Ardmore Studios in Ireland.

More about Michael Feeney Callan...
Sean Connery Robert Redford: The Biography Anthony Hopkins: In Darkness and Light Richard Harris: Sex, Death & the Movies Robert Redford: The Biography. Michael Feeney Callan

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