Robert Redford Turns 86: Social Media Lights Up With Birthday Tributes

by Suzanne Halliburton

Robert Redford is celebrating his 86th birthday today. He’s deserving of all the lofty descriptors, but we prefer legend.

The Robert Redford fans made his name trend on Twitter, starting early Thursday morning. They picked their favorite movies and moments. But how can you choose one? So for this Redford party, we’re offering some of the most important dates in his incredible life. Let’s spin the way back machine to 1960, when Redford began his acting career. His first acting job came on the small screen in a couple of TV classics. He guest starred in Maverick and Perry Mason, before moving on to the Twilight Zone. Within two years, he received an Emmy nomination for supporting actor thanks to his role in The Voice of Charlie Pont.

Now, let’s move our Robert Redford timeline by three years to when folks started noticing this Californian on the big screen. He starred alongside Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover, which garnered him a Golden Globe for top newcomer. And he reprised his role from Broadway in the 1967 movie Barefoot in the Park. Jane Fonda was his co-star.

Robert Redford and Paul Newman = Box Office Gold

Then came a run of movies that turned Robert Redford into an acting legend.

First up — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Paul Newman played Butch, with Redford as the Sundance Kid. They play a couple of rascally train robbers in the movie, which won four Academy Awards. Newman already was an established star. And the Sundance Kid gave Redford similar Hollywood cache. Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott’s future wife, also starred with Newman and Redford. It’s difficult to imagine a more attractive cast.

By 1972, Robert Redford tried a different kind of movie vibe. He played soldier turned mountain man in Jeremiah Johnson. His co-star was Will Geer, who was two years away from playing Grandpa Walton. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, making it the first Western ever to garner this film festival invite.

And Redford became a part of future pop culture, decades before gifs and memes ever became a thing. So you may not remember Jeremiah Johnson, but you’ve seen a bearded Robert Redford somewhere on Twitter.

Let’s Go with Some Ragtime and Streisand

Now, let’s move along to 1973, maybe the best year in Redford’s esteemed acting career. Redford reunited with Newman for The Sting. And then he starred in the classic love story The Way We Were.

Redford and Newman played rascally, handsome con men (there’s a theme here) in The Sting. The movie premiered on Christmas Day. And boy was it a gift for movie fans who watched the Depression era story with its ragtime sound track. The movie received 10 Academy Award nominations and won seven Oscars. That included Best Picture and Director. Redford received his first Academy nomination, but he lost to Jack Lemmon. It was a stacked category with Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino also up for top actor honors.

Then there was The Way We Were, which came out two months before The Sting. The movie featured a love story with a twist. Barbara Streisand played Katie Morosky, a Marxist, who was passionately anti-war. Meanwhile, Redford’s Hubbell defined the term WASP. And he’s politically ambivalent. Still, the two fell in love and moved to California, where Hubbell became an acclaimed screen writer.

The movie gave us Robert Redford as a romantic leading man. And Streisand acted and sang. That’s a win.

By 1976, Robert Redford starred with Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men. Redford played Bob Woodward, with Hoffman portraying Carl Bernstein. The two were young, investigative reporters who broke open the Watergate story. If you keep up with current events, you’ve probably seen Woodward and Bernstein still talking politics.

Redford started working behind the camera. In 1980, he directed Ordinary People, another movie that dominated at the Oscars. And Redford won for Best Director. There were other terrific movies. like The Natural and Out of Africa. He directed A River Runs Through It, which made Brad Pitt a star.

And his fans all showed their appreciation with their birthday greetings. Again, there were so many movies to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one.