The legendary Robert Redford — who has said he intends to retire from acting — has done it all: from romantic leads to Westerns to playing the Great Gatsby.
The 81-year-old heartthrob may yet continue his impressive career behind the camera but his days in front of it appear to be over.
From Barbra Streisand’s lover in “The Way We Were” to a renegade cowboy in “The Electric Horseman” to a 70-something voyager adrift at sea in “All is Lost,” Redford has had dozens of memorable turns.
Here is a look at the classic performances that made Redford an American classic:
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
“Don’t tell me how to rob a bank. I know how to rob a bank!”
Redford uttered that key phrase as the Sundance Kid to Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy — the pair played affable outlaws in perhaps the granddaddy of all buddy films.
Tracked by a posse, the handsome, quick-witted and quick-drawing leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang split to Bolivia, where their illicit antics ultimately prove their demise.
The glib humour did not sit well with critics, but the hippy Western was a huge hit with moviegoers and it made Redford a bankable star.
The Sting (1973)
Redford and Newman reunite, this time as con artists in 1930s Chicago where they seek revenge on a big-league mobster by setting up an ambitious scam.
Redford plays a charming but novice grifter in a blockbuster film.
His memorable performance as Johnny Hooker is optimistic and believable as he tries to pull off the big con, and it led to the only best actor Oscar nomination of his career. He lost to Jack Lemmon, but the crime caper won seven other Academy Awards, including best picture.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
This Francis Ford Coppola adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterful 1925 novel was intended to cement Redford’s role as a leading man in Hollywood romantic dramas. The film earned mixed reviews though it was a financial success.
He played the mysterious and decadent Jay Gatsby opposite Mia Farrow’s Daisy Buchanan. The sparks between the two were muted at best, and Redford caught flak for being too dull in a role critics said he should have nailed.
The film nevertheless won two Oscars for costume design and best original score.
All the President’s Men (1976)
Redford bounced back in full force in a stunning portrayal of a presidency in turmoil.
He took on the role of Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman played Carl Bernstein in the adaptation of the Washington Post journalists’ book about how the pair uncovered Watergate, which proved to be the biggest political scandal of the 20th Century.
Many critics point to this classic as one of Redford’s most important roles. It was not his first foray into politics though.
His satirical turn as a hapless US Senate hopeful in “The Candidate” in 1972 raised eyebrows, and Redford had contemplated a run for Senate in the 1970s.
The Natural (1984)
Redford emerged as a sporting star in this classic hero’s story about a rising baseball phenomenon whose lifelong love of the game helps him overcome tragedy and mount a spectacular comeback.
The big-budget spectacle is overindulgent at times, but Redford shines in his scenes in the ballpark.
And while the feel-good Hollywood ending — a Redford home run to win the pennant gives the actor almost mythic status — is the stuff of dreams, author Bernard Malamud’s novel that is the movie’s source material has a far darker ending: the slugger strikes out.
Out of Africa (1985)
Redford portrays untamable and aloof hunter/adventurer Denys Finch Hatton, who engages in a steamy, ill-fated affair with plantation-owning baroness Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep).
The film, which draws from the writings of Denmark’s Isak Dinesen, was a sweeping cinematic spectacle, scooping up seven Oscars including best picture.
Redford and Streep play headstrong, independent spirits contending with a changing Africa and Blixen’s dissolving personal life.
When Streep’s character asks Redford what is wrong with marriage, his answer is devastating: “Have you ever seen one you admire?”
Robert Redford, the screen legend and Oscar winner, has announced that he’s retiring from acting at the grand old age of 81, with the upcoming movie “The Old Man & The Gun” his last gig in front of the camera.
The actor, director and founder of the Sundance Institute and its film festival began his career on stage 60 years ago, before moving into TV and film, and eventually into directing.
“Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “(I’ll) move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21,” he said.
“I thought, well, that’s enough. And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?”
His publicist Cindi Berger confirmed the article was accurate.
When asked if his prospective retirement would extend to directing, Redford was tight-lipped and his agent did not elaborate.
“We’ll see about that,” Redford told Entertainment Weekly.
In “The Old Man & The Gun,” directed by David Lowery, the California native plays Forrest Tucker, the real-life career criminal whose bank-robbing spree and multiple escapes from prison lasted more than 60 years.
“To me, that was a wonderful character to play at this point in my life,” Redford told Entertainment Weekly.
The film, set for release in the United States on September 28, also stars Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck.
Lowery told Empire magazine that he felt the “weight” of directing Redford in his final screen role.
“He mentioned that right before we started production,” Lowery told Empire.
“I think the movie is as much about (Redford) as it is about this character. It’s about someone in the twilight of their life, doing something they love,” he added.
“There’s an inevitability to the character that is impossible to separate from Mr Redford himself, and an inherently bittersweet quality.”
He was born Charles Robert Redford, Jr. on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, the son of an accountant. His mother died in 1955, a year after he finished high school.
He went to the University of Colorado, but dropped out a year later and subsequently moved to Europe to study art in Paris and in Italy, a formative experience that transformed his political and social awareness.
After returning to the United States, he moved to New York, where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art and made his debut as a stage actor.
After a variety of television roles, he moved on to the silver screen, where he found success with romantic comedy “Barefoot In The Park” opposite Jane Fonda, before his major breakthrough in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1969, when he was 33.
Subsequent hits as an actor came in “The Sting” (1973) which won him an Oscar nomination; “The Great Gatsby” the following year; “Three Days of the Condor” (1975); and the critically acclaimed “All the President’s Men” (1976) — his sun-kissed all-American good looks making him a household name.
Other majoring acting credits for the man with the sun-kissed, all-American good looks were baseball classic “The Natural” and epic romance “Out of Africa” (1985) alongside Meryl Streep.
In 1981, he won an Academy Award for his directorial debut on “Ordinary People” and has a string of other directing credits, including “A River Runs Through It,” in which he starred alongside a young Brad Pitt, and “Quiz Show.”
Also in 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute in Utah for aspiring filmmakers, disaffected with Hollywood’s commercialism and lack of diversity.
The annual Sundance film festival is one of the most influential in the world and has fostered more than a generation of independent directors.
Despite his fame, Redford has led a largely private life and steers clear of many award shows and public film festivals. A passionate conservationist and environmentalist, he has often spoken up for social responsibility.
In 2002, he won an honorary Oscar as an actor, director, producer and creator of Sundance. To date, he has also won six Golden Globes and one BAFTA.
In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award, by Barack Obama.
He married his first wife, Lola Van Wagenen, in 1958. They had four children, one of whom died as an infant. They divorced in 1985 and he married second wife, German artist and long-term girlfriend Sibylle Szaggars in 2009.