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The murder of his daughter Shauna’s fiancé Sid Wells, in Boulder, Colorado, in 1983, is another deeply personal tragedy that he prefers not to examine too closely.
Wells was found shot in the back of the head a few doors away from Shauna’s flat, in the apartment of Thayne Smika, who was arrested for the crime but released for lack of evidence.
After 28 years of marriage Redford had split from Lola but two years later they were reunited at Jamie’s hospital bedside.
“You’re always going to be parents to the same children,” says Lola.
But when confronted with the most emotional moments of his life he is reticence personified.
Yet the screen legend does admit to a crushing guilt, the sense that by choosing to lead the frivolous life of an actor and winning such lavish rewards he has invoked a karmic backlash from the gods. A darkness right on top of me.” Yet he does not want to explore that darkness or revisit it – and this reveals much about himself and the wounds that have yet to heal.
It was the heartbreak of Robert Redford’s life, a tragedy that forever altered his psyche, plunging him into a depression that he only escaped by immersing himself in acting.
Yet you would hardly know the agonies that he endured from the new authorised biography that the screen legend has helped craft.
The rising young star had just moved into a large apartment on West 93rd Street in Manhattan and days earlier had opened on Broadway in new drama The Highest Tree.
He made sure that his children, wife, ex-wife, co-stars and best friends cooperated with the author.
He handed over decades’ worth of private diaries and journals, notebooks and correspondence.
But among the watershed moments that are dismissed in mere paragraphs or with little comment from Redford are the death of his first son Scott, the execution-style murder of his daughter’s fiancé and the two life-saving liver transplants which his eldest surviving son Jamie has undergone.
Some other seminal events also receive scant mention. We didn’t know anything about sudden infant death syndrome so the only thing you think is that you’ve done something wrong. That creates a scar that never completely heals.” Redford notoriously bottles up his pain inside. The hardest thing in the world is when your children have problems.