CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Tim McGraw, Robert Redford
Aired January 18, 2003 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the hunk who's heating up the country charts.
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REBA MCENTIRE, MUSICIAN: He's a great singer. His stage presence is good. It all works.
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ANNOUNCER: The king of country music's royal family.
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JIM JEROME, WRITER-AT-LARGE, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Once he hooked up with Faith in the mid '90s, you know, you can't stop that. I mean that's just a great story.
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ANNOUNCER: He grew up in Louisiana with a family secret involving a big-time ball player.
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SANDY HOWARD, SISTER: It was a difficult time for all of us.
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ANNOUNCER: He dropped out of college to pursue a dream in music city.
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LANCE BUTLER, FRIEND: When Tim told me he was moving to Nashville, I laughed at him.
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ANNOUNCER: Now, he's one of country's biggest stars.
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TIM MCGRAW, MUSICIAN: I've got it made and I can't imagine having any better life.
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ANNOUNCER: We go one-on-one with Tim McGraw. Then, he's the Hollywood icon who's never been comfortable with his golden boy image.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not the Sundance Kid.
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ANNOUNCER: Before the bright lights of Hollywood, a restless teen searching for direction.
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BEVERLY KNUDSON, HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND: He thought he was going to die young.
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ANNOUNCER: And now, a film legend giving independent filmmakers their big break.
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ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: It was meant to give a voice to people who weren't able to have one.
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ANNOUNCER: From the Sundance kid to the Sundance Institute...
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MARY TYLER MOORE, ACTRESS: He's garnered a tremendous amount of respect for the independent producer.
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ANNOUNCER: ... a look at veteran actor and director, Robert Redford. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Tim McGraw is country music's favorite guy. And he just got the American Music Award this week to prove it. He also has a string of platinum albums, number one hits, and, of course, his wife, Faith Hill. But McGraw isn't about to wrest on his laurels and he not only has a new CD and book out, but also a new baby daughter. It is a million miles from the back roads of Louisiana, from a childhood of poverty and family secrets. Daryn Kagan has our profile.
JEROME: He's really on top. He's got a great voice and he delivers. The sex appeal is a perk. MCENTIRE: He looks so confident on stage; you're like, was that choreographed or is he just that damn good? Well, he's just that good.
FAITH HILL, MUSICIAN/WIFE: I feel that way when I look at him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
HILL: Yes, really.
MCGRAW: I was just lucky. I was just lucky. I mean what else could I want?
DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What else could country great Tim McGraw really need? He recently launched a new album.
MCGRAW: Hello America, and welcome to my hometown, Start, Louisiana.
KAGAN: Starred in his own prime time TV special.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just met Tim McGraw.
KAGAN: He penned a book about life on the road.
MCGRAW: How you doing, buddy?
KAGAN: And just weeks ago, made a Grand Ole Opry debut.
At a time when country and pop music sales are down, the 35-year- old hat-wearing hunk has maintained solid ground, selling over 25 million CDs, packing concert arenas and winning country's most prestigious award.
JEROME: I think the knack for him is picking the great material that works with his persona, his message, his looks, his aura.
KAGAN: It could be some controversial tunes that keep fans captivated, like the recent, "Red Rag Top," a song that contains lyrics about an abortion. McGraw sang the hot-button song on his TV special.
MCGRAW: I believe that's what my job is, is a storyteller and that's what I do. If I find a great story to tell, I'm going to tell it.
KAGAN: Or it could be Tim McGraw's own story, a love story with country's other hottest star that's reinforced his popularity.
HILL: This is my husband, Tim McGraw.
JEROME: Once he hooked up with Faith in the mid '90s, you know, you can't stop that. I mean this is just a great story.
KAGAN: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have become one of country's most celebrated couples. When the rugged cowboy and glamorous cover girl performed together and then married in '96, both of their careers soared. The duo amassed a fortune...
HILL: We are expecting our first child.
KAGAN: ... and a family, a brood of three girls. The couple has gained more popularity by touting their down-home value.
HILL: We wanted to raise our family. We didn't just want kids just as tokens.
MCGRAW: The family has got to be first and everything else kind of has to find a spot.
KAGAN: And there's another story about Tim McGraw in the spotlight, a personal story involving a famous name that stirs up memories of childhood pain and confusion.
(on camera): You met him, but it wasn't this instant father-son bond?
MCGRAW: I don't think it will ever be a father and son kind of relationship.
KAGAN (voice-over): It was a secret that wouldn't be revealed until late in Tim's childhood.
MCGRAW: That was -- that's my backyard right there. This is my backyard.
KAGAN: Tim McGraw grew up in rural northeast Louisiana, in the swampy town of Start, a cotton farming community 200 miles from Baton Rouge.
HOWARD: It had a little country star and the gin and a caution light. That's all that's there. I mean there's no red light or anything.
BETTY TRIMBLE, MOTHER: When he was -- gosh, I think he was a month old there.
KAGAN: Samuel Timothy Smith, nicknamed Timmy, was born May 1, 1967. He lived in Start for most of his childhood with sisters Tracey and Sandy. From a young age, Tim excelled in sports and music.
TRIMBLE: He sang first in front of people at 3 in church and you hear everybody say that, but he did.
KAGAN: Early on, money and jobs were scarce for his mom, Betty, a waitress and dad, Horace, a part-time trucker. The poverty-stricken family moved 13 times when Tim was a kid.
TRIMBLE: Some of these places we lived, I'd fix them up and make them home. But I mean you could even see the dirt on the ground through the floors. HOWARD: I'd answer the phone and there's a bill collector on the other line. And mom's like, "I'm not here." So at times, I knew that it was hard for her.
KAGAN: But for Tim and his family, life was about to get even harder.
TRIMBLE: He's sitting on the bed and he's as white as the sheet. I said, "Tim are you all right?" "I need to ask you something." And I said, "What?" He said, "Is Horace Smith my daddy?" And I just teared up just like I just did.
KAGAN: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Tim makes a shocking discovery about a big-time ball player, news that will change the rest of his life. And later, "This Kiss" turns into way more than just a hit song.
HILL: I wrote my answer on his dressing mirror.
ANNOUNCER: Also ahead, he was a matinee idol who never wanted to be just another pretty face.
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LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: A lot of people scoffed when it was announced that he was going to direct because you know, who was this? And he was thought of a pretty boy.
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ANNOUNCER: Silencing critics and picking up award statues along the way. A look at Robert Redford later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
KAGAN (voice-over): In'78, Timmy Smith was living the typical life of most boys in rural Louisiana.
BUTLER: We'd go camping or hunting or typical things like that, but basically, just small town life.
KAGAN: And Tim had dreams of someday becoming a ball player.
MCGRAW: I was pretty much an athlete growing up. I mean that's what I wanted to do. I thought I was too little though.
KAGAN: One of the players he idolized, pitcher, Tug McGraw.
MCGRAW: I had a baseball card of him and like three other guys on my wall. KAGAN: Eleven-year-old Tim was home alone when he got the shock of a lifetime.
MCGRAW: And I found this box and opened it up, and sure enough there was a birth certificate that has McGraw under my last name. It just -- it was like a joke. You know you just didn't -- it didn't register.
KAGAN: Tim's mom revealed that in 1966, she had a summer romance with the baseball pitching great. At the time, he played in the minors for the Jacksonville Suns. Their relationship didn't last, but she was pregnant. She contacted McGraw, but never asked for help.
TRIMBLE: He was a famous baseball player and it come out and hurt his career in any way, I didn't want to do that.
KAGAN: Tug McGraw went on to play for the Mets and the Phillies. He became the highest paid relief pitcher in professional baseball.
TRIMBLE: And he said, "Is that guy -- do I ever get to meet him?" And I said, "Son, I don't know. You know, he knows about you. He knows where I'm at, but he's -- so far, he's chose not to have anything to do with you."
KAGAN: Tim did McGraw briefly when he was 11 but the two did not become close.
HOWARD: It was a difficult time for all of us.
KAGAN: By this time, Tug McGraw had his own family. Tim didn't speak to his famous father again until his senior year of high school.
MCGRAW: I mean, he had a life. You know, he had his kids who were young and he -- you know, I'm sure it was tough on him to try to figure out what am I supposed to -- what am I going to do here? I mean, you know, not to diminish the responsibility at all.
KAGAN: But he did ask his dad to pay for his college education, and McGraw eventually agreed. Tim began using his real last name and spending more time with the dad he hardly knew.
MCGRAW: You know we've become more -- almost like an older- younger brother. Me being the older brother and he being the younger brother is really what it's come down to.
KAGAN: McGraw attended Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, 15 miles from home. He thought about studying law but school soon took second fiddle to music.
MCGRAW: In college one summer, I went and got a guitar from a pawn shop for like 20 bucks and I watched CMT, believe it or not, and sit there -- and "Hee-Haw" -- and would see where their fingers were on the cords and the songs and then play the guitar and then listening to the radio. I think in that summer, I had like a 50 song repertoire. KAGAN: He'd grown up listening to 70's rock groups like the Eagles and Journey but began emulating country legends, George Strait and Hank Williams Jr. In just months, McGraw was good enough for solo gigs at local bars. He wasn't long before he craved a bigger audience. In 1989, he dropped out of college and took a chance. He headed to music city.
BUTLER: When Tim told me he was moving to Nashville, I laughed at him. For him to come out being a typical college, fraternity guy, to say, at him about for him to come out being a typical college fraternity guy to say, "Hey, I'm going to sing country music," and we all kind of went, "Well, OK."
KAGAN: But McGraw was serious. He hit Nashville's local club circuit, found a backup band called the Dancehall Doctors and wasted little time in establishing himself. In 1992, his cool style and his famous last name got him a meeting at a record company. One record executive was a Tug McGraw fan.
MCGRAW: A friend of my dad's knew somebody that worked at Curb Records and called up and just got me an appointment by chance. And I showed up early.
KAGAN: Within a year McGraw landed a record contract. But his self-entitled debut album sank into oblivion. Luckily, he got another shot.
The ballad, "Don't Take The Girl" from his second album put McGraw on the country map.
DARRAN SMITH, DANCEHALL DOCTORS: And we stopped and people were -- all the crowd's singing the words and we're just playing along with it. And then, you just felt that hair stand up and the tingling and you go, "This is going to be something huge."
KAGAN: But it was another single, the political incorrect "Indian Outlaw" that sent McGraw into the big leagues. McGraw received heavy criticism from some who found the song offensive to Native Americans.
RAYMOND APODACA, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS: The song, in its lyrics, helps perpetrate all of the negative stereotypes and demean, basically, the Indian culture.
KAGAN: But the controversy only boosted McGraw's popularity. The song became his first number one hit and the album, country's biggest seller of 1994. McGraw progressed from a struggling club act to a headliner almost overnight and the hits kept coming.
Country rock anthem, "I Like It, I Love It," flew to the top of the charts. And although McGraw didn't write any of the songs, he became an ace at picking winners.
MCGRAW: I just don't like anything that I write. I think I'm pretty bad at it actually.
MARK HUNT, CO-MANAGER: I think one of the really mystical, magical things about Tim is his ability to choose a song.
KAGAN: McGraw's next choice would cast him even further into the spotlight. When we return, the country duet that sent sparks flying, hearts breaking and tongues wagging.
JEROME: Both had been in long and serious relationships at the time, so there wasn't any thought of them ending up as a romantic duo.
KAGAN: And a brush with the law that leaves McGraw with a bad boy reputation.
ZAHN: Tim McGraw finds controversy and a whole lot of faith when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, but first, here's this week's "Passages."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Who guitarist, Pete Townshend, was arrested this week on suspicion of possessing child pornography. Townshend, who was later released, claims he was checking out kiddy porn Internet sites while researching his biography. Townshend has claimed before that he suspects he was sexually abused as a child. Townshend's rock opera, "Tommy," deals with child abuse.
A man who made his career telling the news made some this week in Wyoming. Retired news vet, David Brinkley, was rescued from his burning home in Jackson by a police officer, who broke through his window. Brinkley, who's bedridden, was carried to safety and was unharmed.
The show that made Gene Gene (ph) The Dancing Machine a legend is back.
ANNOUNCER: The Gong Show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The WB is reviving the goofy talent program, The Gong Show. And while original host and creator, Chuck Barris, will not be involved with the show, the revival will ride the popular wave from the recently released movie based on Barris' book, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." And note to producers of the show -- if the unknown comic isn't brought back, well, we're just not watching.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he sounded like a manure salesman with a mouth full of samples.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For more news on celebrities of the known variety, put a copy of "People" magazine in your shopping bag this week. Our look at Tim McGraw will continue after this.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
KAGAN (voice-over): By 1995, Tim McGraw was topping country charts with hits like "Can't Be Really Gone." He no longer needed his famous baseball player dad to further his music career, but another name would soon change his life. After the release of his popular third album, McGraw went on tour. Opening up for him, rising country star, Faith Hill.
Hill had some hits like "Piece of My Heart," but was barely known in the pop world.
MCGRAW: I knew the first time I spent five minutes with her that I was done for. What I also knew that she was way out of my league, too, so I had a big ladder to climb there.
KAGAN: But that wasn't his only challenge. Hill was already taken.
JEROME: Faith was engaged to Scott Hendriks, who was a very successful, powerful, Nashville record producer and music executive. And she had been married once before and Tim had been coming out of a long relationship.
KAGAN: But the Spontaneous Combustion Tour would live up to its name. The sparks between McGraw and Hill flew.
SMITH: Well, when I saw them on stage, you know, singing together, you could just kind of tell there was something there, you know?
MCGRAW: I tried to just keep my head turned and just, you know, stay away. And I remember my road manager, I told him, "I need to see Faith for a minute." And she came in and I just grabbed her and kissed her.
KAGAN: A relationship developed. And by the end of the tour, Hill had broken off her engagement. McGraw popped the question back stage.
HILL: And I got so angry at him. "What you're asking me -- I just came off the stage and this is crazy, in a trailer." And I realized that he was serious. And so, my response, I wrote -- I wrote my answer on a -- on his dressing mirror in a sharpie and said, "Yes, I will marry you."
KAGAN: The couple married in the end of '96. They kept the big day a secret from friends.
BUTLER: We were all prepared to play in a softball tournament and half of us there were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. And I got on the bus with Tim to go get ready for the softball game and he said, "By the way, we're going to a wedding." And I said, "Really, whose?" He said, "Mine." KAGAN: Since then, their careers have exploded. McGraw became country's Male Artist of The Year with songs like "It's Your Love." And Hill's popularity rose with crossover hits like "This Kiss."
And when they sang together, hits like "Just To Hear You Say You Love Me," their popularity soared. The singers were stacking up hits and awards, winning a Grammy for the duet, "Let's Make Love."
In 1997, country's favorite duo started a family. They had a daughter, Gracie. Little Maggie followed in '98. But the couple had a scare with the birth of their third daughter, Audrey, in December when Hill's pregnancy turned dangerous.
JEROME: She had really lost a lot of her fluid and she was really in pretty much an emergency situation. And within 12 or 18 hours, she had a c-section. And she called Tim right away and he came rushing to the office and they got the kids out of school. It was a frightening -- as she put it, "frightening and alarming situation."
MCGRAW: She was just early, just a little early, but she was fine. I mean we took her home after about a week in the hospital and never had any problems.
KAGAN: Calm words from a guy who has a reputation of being a doting dad.
TRIMBLE: When Gracie was born, it was like, as soon as she'd whimper, he'd run and get her. He changed her diaper. And Faith would be fixing a bottle, and he's like, "Now, put it on your arm, test it."
HOWARD: He changes diapers. He does whatever. He plays dress- up. He plays, you know, whatever they want him to do. He'll play tea party if they want him to.
KAGAN: But in 2001, McGraw's reputation as a family man was jeopardized. He endured a criminal trial that could have ruined his home life and his career. It all started when fellow country singer, Kenny Chesney, took a ride on a police horse.
MCGRAW: And these other officers didn't bother to stop him and ask if he had permission, and just jerked Kenny off of the horse and started swinging batons. And I tried to make them stop and they turned on me.
KAGAN: McGraw was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. Almost a year later, he was found innocent but the high- profile trial took its toll.
(on camera): Do you think that prosecutors took it as far as they did because you guys are celebrities?
MCGRAW: Sure and because I wouldn't take their deals. I mean did we really want to go through all of this? And Faith and I both -- you know, we got kids, and 13, 14 years old, they're going to ask me what happened. And if I do any kind of deal, they'll never believe anything I say.
KAGAN: The couple had made it clear, that family comes before fame, even vowing not to be a part for more than three days at a time.
JEROME: Faith would actually have Audrey with her in the recording booth, cradling her or parked in a car seat. If the baby suddenly started to make noise, they'd have to yell, "Cut" and start over. But I think there is this feeling that they are this movable feast of a family wherever they go.
KAGAN: McGraw says it's Hill's efficiency that makes touring a breeze.
MCGRAW: The toys, I mean, the baby who -- I mean she's got this plastic bins that are all labeled and stacked and neatly stacked there with blankets in between to make sure nothing breaks. And I'm throwing my stuff in the suitcase and trying to sit on it and shut it.
KAGAN: Hill's organization means a little down time on the road. McGraw usually works in a game of basketball before his shows. But his more impressive moves have been off the court.
He recently landed his own prime time TV special. He recorded a new album and his chronicle of the making of that record earned him a spot on "The New York Times" best-seller list.
And just 10 months after her baby's premature birth, Hill was back in the spotlight with her own TV special and new album.
MCGRAW: We were flying all over the place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you exhausted?
MCGRAW: No, not yet.
ANNOUNCER: Would make a welcome to Tim McGraw?
KAGAN: McGraw's endeavors have paid off. Ten years into a still-skyrocketing career, he remains country's reining male star.
MCENTIRE: He's good lucking. He's sexy. He's a great singer. The mysterious looks he gives from under that hat brim, it all works.
KAGAN: It's working all right from music to books to TV. But from one of country's greatest success stories, it's not the music that makes the fairy tale ending.
MCGRAW: And I've got three princesses at home. I mean I've -- and well, I've got four girls, beautiful girls that just adore me, so I've got it made. I can't imagine having any better life.
ZAHN: And Tim McGraw will be back on tour beginning this March. He's also working on another book, this one focusing in on his experiences as a father. ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, he's the film legend who's become a champion of the independent film.
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REDFORD: There is no end game to Sundance. There is purposely no end game.
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ANNOUNCER: The guy who gives new chances to his Sundance Kids. Robert Redford, that's next.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. For stars, filmmakers and fans, the one place to be right now is Park City, Utah and the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance is the premier showcase for independent film in America, a labor of love founded by the most reluctant, big budget star, Robert Redford. Here's Bill Hemmer.
PAUL NEWMAN, ACTOR: I'll jump first.
NEWMAN: Then you jump first.
REDFORD: No, I said.
NEWMAN: What's the matter with you?
REDFORD: I can't swim.
BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Redford, to his legions of fans, he'll forever be known as the Sundance Kid. The 1968 classic made him a movie star, but it's what he's done with his fame that has made him a legend.
LARRY HACKETT, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: I don't think it's unfair to argue that Robert Redford could be seen as the single most important person in independent film.
MOORE: He's garnered a tremendous amount of respect for the independent producer.
HEMMER: Redford founded the Sundance Institute in 1981, a tranquil haven for film making, nestled in the mountains of Utah. Twenty-one years later, it boasts a who's who of famous alumni, and one of the most respected film festivals in the world.
REDFORD: There was no Hollywood in the beginning, no celebrities and certainly no fashion, and no press. And so, it was like a big nothing out there, but it was sure fun.
ROZEN: Two things come to mind when you think of Robert Redford. You think blonde, but you also think this is the guy more than almost anyone else in the industry has given back to the industry. This is a guy who doesn't just take from Hollywood.
HEMMER: Charles Robert Redford Jr. was born on August 18, 1937 in Santa Monica, California, the only child to Martha, a homemaker, and Charles Sr., a milkman.
JAMES SPADA, BIOGRAPHER: He was closer to his mother than he was to his father. His father was a very hard-working man, rarely around. His mother, he said, was a very loving woman, a woman who had a great capacity to enjoy life.
HEMMER: As a young boy, Redford loved the great outdoors. He also loved making up his own rules, and developed a habit for being late.
MOORE: He said he remembers exactly when it happened to him. He would go off riding his little tricycle, and his mother would say, "You be sure you be home before dark, you hurry home." And something in him just reared and said, "No. I won't hurry. I will not go home."
HEMMER: Following World War II, Charles Redford Sr. began work as an accountant and moved his family to the middle class suburb of Van Nuys, California. The move, however, did not solve growing family problems. Martha Redford was diagnosed with cancer. And a rebellious teenager soon emerged.
SPADA: He and his friends used to break into Hollywood studios, just broke a lot of stuff, just, you know, petty vandalism.
KNUDSON: He would always tell me he was going to die young. And when he was upset, he'd always drive so fast. It's amazing he never got killed, because we'd go over those Hollywood hills as fast as can be, and he'd always be in convertibles with the top down.
HEMMER: But the rebellious teen had an artistic side, too. He loved to write poetry and draw.
SPADA: He was a doodler and he would sketch a lot. There are sketches in the yearbook that he did, which aren't really very good, but I'm sure he got better.
HEMMER: Redford was also passionate about sports. In 1955, he headed to the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship.
REDFORD: Sports was a way, a kind of salvation for me during a troubled period when it was difficult to express my ambivalences and darker feelings.
HEMMER: But those dark feelings would only deepen. That same year, his mother, Martha, died of cancer. She was 41. KNUDSON: He told me then that summer that his mother had died, and he was very sad. I felt badly, because I knew how much he loved her. I think Bob is a very private person, and I think he keeps a lot of his emotions to himself.
HEMMER: Following his mother's death, Redford turned to alcohol, skipping classes and baseball practice. He eventually lost his scholarship and dropped out.
KNUDSON: Bob was directionless. He just didn't know what he was doing, where he was going.
HEMMER: Until 1957, when he met Lola Van Wagenen, a college student from Utah, who lived in his Los Angeles apartment building. Persuading her new beau to stop drinking and continue as an artist, Redford moved to New York City and enrolled in the Pratt Institute to study scenic design. But his good looks would soon get in the way of an art career.
SPADA: A friend of his suggested, well, if you're going to design sets for the theater, why don't you take some acting classes?
HEMMER: Encouraged and content, Redford married his 18-year-old sweetheart on September 12, 1958. One year later, the couple welcomed a baby boy, Scott. But this joyous occasion was soon met with sorrow, when the infant died suddenly of crib death.
In 1959, people started talking about Redford the actor, when he debuted on Broadway in the comedy "Tall Story." More offers followed, including David Merrick's "Sunday in New York." The television industry had also taken notice. A televised play of the week, "The Iceman Cometh," brought Redford front and center.
REDFORD: Oh, I get you. But, hell, I'm just about broke.
HEMMER: Followed by a memorable episode of "The Twilight Zone."
REDFORD: I've been shot.
SPADA: You realize that this woman is about to die and that this policeman is really death in disguise, and she's let death into her.
REDFORD: Mother, give me your hand.
SPADA: I'm getting goose bumps just talking about it because it was a very effective half-hour. And he was terrific in it.
HEMMER: Coming up, Hollywood anoints Redford their golden boy, an image that angers and frustrates the reluctant superstar.
SYDNEY POLLACK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: A fan passed him on the street once and said, "Are you Robert Redford?" And he said, without any hesitation, "Only when I'm alone."
HEMMER: In 1961, 24-year-old Robert Redford made his big screen debut in the low budget film, "War Hunt."
REDFORD: How do you kill a man with a knife?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes knowledge and practice.
HEMMER: It was on this set that Redford met a young actor by the name of Sydney Pollack. Their friendship would span 40 years.
POLLACK: I didn't know who to talk to. I was slightly uncomfortable. And the only other guy on the set that was as quiet as I was, was Redford.
HEMMER: Following "War Hunt," Redford headed back to Broadway, appearing for 11 months in the hit Neil Simon comedy, "Barefoot in the Park." His role as an uptight honeymooner gave him enough exposure to land bigger roles in Hollywood, including a controversial one, "Inside Daisy Clover," opposite Natalie Wood.
REDFORD: All right. I'll play along. I'm cynical. I'm irresponsible to your heart. I stop at nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're just insecure like most doctors.
ROZEN: It is really quite an interesting role. He plays her closeted, bisexual husband, and, you know, it was kind of a questionable role to take at that time. You're looking at the mid- '60s when not every actor was running around begging to play gay roles.
HEMMER: Controversial or not, in 1967, Robert Redford became a household name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These footprints lead to the happiest motion picture in many, many, many a year.
HEMMER: "Barefoot in the Park" went to the big screen, and it was a hit. Reprising his Broadway role, this time opposite Jane Fonda, Redford became a movie star and sex symbol.
JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: Wait a minute, Paul.
SPADA: And at this point in Redford's career, it's all uphill. It's all a graph that goes up because it seems like every move he made after that just established him as a bigger and bigger star.
ROZEN: He had passed on a couple of other roles. He passed on "The Graduate." He passed on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," because he felt those were sort of more in the conventional, pretty boy mold. And that was not what he was looking for.
HEMMER: Redford was looking for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," but with his buttoned-up image, producers hesitated.
ROZEN: He had to audition, I believe, repeatedly for "Butch Cassidy."
SPADA: They wanted Marlon Brando to play the Sundance Kid. They would go down the line, well, who do you want -- Brando, Brando, Brando. And George Roy Hill would say, "Redford."
HEMMER: Director George Roy Hill eventually got his wish, and the Newman/Redford chemistry was explosive.
HEMMER: Following the success of "Butch Cassidy," a reluctant superstar emerged. His image was everywhere. At odds with his public image, Redford retreated with wife Lola and now three children back to Utah. There, he purchased 3,000 acres of land, and named the property Sundance. He also formed his own production company, Wild Wood Enterprises, which produced a series of films starting in 1969, with "Downhill Racer." And in 1972, "The Candidate."
REDFORD: This country cannot house its houseless, feed its foodless.
HACKETT: "Downhill Racer" and "The Candidate" -- these were movies he wanted to make, and in some cases he made on his own as independent pictures.
REDFORD: And I say there's got to be a better way!
HEMMER: An indie filmmaker ahead of his time and on a date with destiny. But what Redford didn't reckon upon was 1973, the year he would make two mainstream films catapulting him from mere superstar to icon.
POLLACK: When I first read "The Way We Were," I couldn't -- I just couldn't see anybody else. I knew I was going to have trouble, and I did, when I sent it to Bob. He kept saying, there's nothing to play here. There's just a guy who's just an object. He's just a pretty boy.
I kept promising him that we'd try to fix if and I kept holding out, holding out, holding out, and finally, out of exhaustion, really, just -- he looked like a guy who had been running a marathon -- he didn't want to do it, but he said, "OK, OK, I'll do it."
HEMMER: The on-screen pairing of Redford and Barbara Streisand was electric. Their star-crossed characters going down in history as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Following "The Way We Were," an even bigger success. Reteaming with Paul Newman -- 1973's "The Sting" garnered seven Academy Awards, and an Oscar nomination as well for the 36-year-old. The Newman/Redford duo was back, which begs the question, will they ever reunite again?
REDFORD: We'd do a film together if somebody came up with an idea that wasn't a remake or a repeat or a sequel. That's the part that neither one of us wanted to do, a sequel to either "Butch Cassidy" or "The Sting." So come up with something else, before it's too late.
HEMMER: Coming up, the Sundance Institute is born, and Hollywood scratches its head as Redford emerges as a director.
MOORE: I would just rear back and say to myself, "It's Robert Redford and he's listening to you."
ZAHN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Robert Redford steps behind the camera and turns an extraordinary cast into a family of ordinary people, which leads us to this week's "Where Are They Are?"
ANNOUNCER: While actor, Judd Hirsch garnered a nomination for his role as Burger in "Ordinary People," he will always be known as clever cabbie, Alex Rigor, on the hit TV show, "Taxi."
Where is Judd Hirsch now? Hirsch has remained busy acting. He's had a few television series like the successful "Dear John" and the not so successful, "George and Leo." Hirsch recently revised his Tony-award winning role in "I'm Not Rappaport" on Broadway. He also made a cameo in the movie, "Man on The Moon," playing a role he knows very well, himself.
Our look at Robert Redford will continue after this.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
HEMMER (voice-over): By the mid-1970s, Robert Redford was the biggest movie star in Hollywood, but following "The Sting" a flop.
ROZEN: "Great Gatsby" is one of the great movie failures.
REDFORD: Shall we have some tea?
ROZEN: There was enormous publicity before they made it. Then the movie comes out, and it is like this -- it just lies on the screen like a big lox.
HEMMER: While "Gatsby" was not so great, its failure could not diminish his star power.
And in 1976, yet another box office classic.
REDFORD: Hi. I'm Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post."
HEMMER: In "All the President's Men," Redford and Dustin Hoffman took on the Watergate scandal, portraying real-life reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The film was a labor of love for Redford, who had bought rights to the story and pushed Hollywood for years to make the film.
DUSTIN HOFFMAN, ACTOR: He got that project before it was written. He heard about it. He sought it out. No one studio wanted to make that movie, because they said it's a political movie. The public's not interested in it. We know how it's going to end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Background!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
HEMMER: Redford's hard work paid off. The film took home four Academy Awards in 1977.
HOFFMAN: He is as bright as they come and he is as passionate about work as they come, and he's an extremely good-looking man and I hate his guts.
HEMMER: After reteaming with Jane Fonda in 1979's "Electric Horseman," the actor was tired. After 21 films in two decades, it was time for a change.
MOORE: A lot of people scoffed when it was announced that he was going to direct, because, you know, who is this? He was thought of as a pretty boy. And he announces he wants to make this intimate little family drama.
HEMMER: The film was "Ordinary People," and if Redford's decision to direct had shocked some, the woman he cast as the film's repressed mother, Beth Jarrett, stunned the rest.
MOORE: French toast. It's your favorite.
MOORE: We both lived on Malibu Beach for a time, and he said after watching the show, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and seeing me on the beach, he was curious about the dark side of Mary Tyler Moore, for which I will be forever grateful, because it was one of the best roles I've ever done.
HEMMER: It was a role Redford knew well.
MOORE: Beth was his father. And Beth was my father. So I had no trouble understanding her.
HEMMER: In 1980, "Ordinary People" opened to glowing reviews, garnering four Academy Awards, including one for the first-time director.
REDFORD: I felt pretty great when we finished the movie, and nobody talked or thought about Oscars or the Academy Award either before, during or after. So this is an added pleasure.
HEMMER: Respected by peers and no longer just a pretty face, the Oscar nod gave the 44-year-old an opportunity to get away from the spotlight. SPADA: It's not a surprise that Redford would start a film institute and a film festival, because he had always felt that Hollywood didn't live up to its responsibilities.
HEMMER: In 1981, the Sundance Institute was born.
REDFORD: It was meant to give a voice to people who weren't able to have one. Because the mainstream, which I'm certainly a part of, was too focused on what was commercial.
POLLACK: It was rough the first year, because there wasn't any money. But he was really determined and he was committed to it in a way that was very impressive.
HEMMER: With his attention focused on the institute's labs and the birth of the Sundance Film Festival in 1985, Redford appeared in just four films in the 1980s, two of which hit home runs, "The Natural" and "Out of Africa," directed by Sydney Pollack.
That same year, however, a surprising announcement. Redford's 27-year marriage was ending.
HACKETT: He's never, ever said a bad thing about her, nor she about him. He is not the kind of guy who there have been stories about when he was married, so it seems like a marriage that painfully had run its course and was ending.
HEMMER: But a new relationship was beginning, between indy filmmakers and Robert Redford.
MICHELLE SATTER, FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR, SUNDANCE INSTITUTE: It's quite meaningful for him to be there for the filmmakers, not only because he has so much to give them and so much to share in terms of the craft of filmmaking, but because this was his passion, his heart and soul and his vision.
REDFORD: I also believe that we're never too old to learn something. We can never get too fat and successful not to appreciate that we don't know everything. And sometimes you can learn from babes, you know, and so the young people come and challenge us and push us. That's terrific. It kind of keeps me alive.
HEMMER: The film festival, which had started so small in 1985, grew quickly with some 20,000 making the present-day trek to Park City every January. It would be the launching pad for such directors as Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Kimberly Pierce, whose script, "Boys Don't Cry," had been selected as a 1997 lab project.
KIMBERLY PIERCE, DIRECTOR, "BOYS DON'T CRY": I thought like most independent films it might show in one theater, and I thought if it worked, that would be great. The idea that it would be showing all over the country, all over the world, I mean, certainly it was kind of a latent dream.
REDFORD: There is no end game to Sundance. There is purposely no end game. It is meant to be open-ended, because it's meant to be an organization that thrives with change.
HEMMER: In 2001, at the age of 64, Redford the movie star emerged yet again, opposite Brad Pitt in the box office thriller, "Spy Game."
ROZEN: It was good, but you really had the sense that he was deferring in some of his scenes to Redford. He was kind of learning from the master.
HEMMER: A 40-year Hollywood vet, who is indeed by now a master. And although it's hard to predict Redford's legacy, be it film star or Sundance founder, one suspects either way he will have no regrets.
PIERCE: But I think the wonderful thing, and I don't think it takes anything away from Sundance, is that people love him.
POLLACK: He is probably the closest we have in this country, you know, to royalty.
HACKETT: This is a guy who really was an outsider. No matter how successful he was, he saw himself and acted as an outsider.
MOORE: Oh, I think his legacy is going to be myriad. He's a good human being, you know?
ZAHN: True to the independent spirit of Sundance, Robert Redford will star this year in a new small budget film called "The Clearing." It's a thriller in which Redford stars a kidnapped tycoon. That is it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Next week, as the deadline for U.N. inspectors draws near, a look at Britain's Tony Blair and other key players in the showdown with Iraq.
And coming up this week on "AMERICAN MORNING," a look at who shined at the Golden Globes. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks for joining us this week.
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