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Robert Redford Lives 'Whole New Life' after Marrying 21-Years-Younger Wife — It Took Them 13 Years to Wed

Bettina Dizon
Mar 21, 2022
08:40 A.M.
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Robert Redford was a divorcee from his 27-year marriage when he found love with a woman 19 years his junior, whom he later married. Although he suffered heartbreaks in his previous relationship, everything became worth it because his new wife allowed him to live a new life.

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Born on August 18, 1936, Robert Redford had his creative juices flowing since his younger years as an artist. It wasn't until the late '50s that the actor starred on Broadway and made his way on-screen, starring in "Barefoot in the Park" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

As his career progressed, Redford became one of the most sought-after Hollywood stars. Today, he has an impressive list of television and film credits under his belt, including "The Way We Were," "The Sting," "The Great Gatsby," "Ordinary People," and "A River Runs Through It," among others.

Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars during the 42nd Chaplin Award Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 27, 2015 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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FIRST MARRIAGE

Behind his colorful career, Redford is a twice-married man. He met his first partner, Lola Van Wagenen, in the late '50s, shortly after returning from France, where he studied art, culture, and international affairs. At that time, Van Wagenen was a star in her own right, working as a known historian.

It wasn't long before the couple tied the knot in 1985 and moved to New York City. While starting his career as an actor, Robert also began building his family and became a father to four children; Shauna, Amy, Scott Anthony, and James. Sadly, Scott died only two months after his birth.

In 2018, Redford officially announced his retirement after nearly 60 years in the industry. Then 81, he made his last on-screen appearance in the movie "The Old Man & The Gun."

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Robert Redford during the "The Twilight Zone" episode entitled "Nothing in the Dark," Culver City, California, April 17, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

Unfortunately, Redford's marriage only lasted 27 years as the former lovers divorced in 1985. Although the actor did not always feel comfortable talking about his divorce initially, he admitted that he tied the knot at a young age, 21. He said:

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"I don't want to denigrate the person I married. There were a lot of good reasons. But when you ask me a question like, 'why?' I have to say it was to save my life."

According to Redford, he felt like it was the right thing to do at that time. "Part of me is drawn to the nature of sadness because I think life is sad, and sadness is not something that should be avoided or denied," he added. "It's a fact of life like contradictions are."

Robert Redford as baseball player Roy Hobbs in the film "The Natural," 1983. | Source: Getty Images

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HEARTBREAKING LOSSES IN HIS FAMILY

Throughout his life, Redford also experienced several heartbreaks outside the form of love. His mother died at a very young age, 40, because of an unexpected rare blood disease. "It seemed so unfair," he said. "But in an odd way, it freed me to go off on my own, which I'd wanted to do for a long time."

Redford also had twin sisters who passed away at birth, which left painful memories once he experienced the death of his child, Scott, due to infant death syndrome. Admittedly, the actor still bears the guilt of his son's death. He said:

“We didn't know anything about SIDS, so the only thing you think is that you've done something wrong. As a parent, you tend to blame yourself. That creates a scar that probably never completely heals.”

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Robert Redford stars in the film "The Natural," 1983. | Source: Getty Images

Years later, Redford experienced yet another painful loss when his other son, James, a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, died at 58. James battled bile-duct liver cancer for a while and had two liver transplants in the past.

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He also had autoimmune illnesses that caused liver damage. "The grief is immeasurable with the loss of a child," Redford said

James is also a husband to his wife, Kyle, and a father to two beautiful children who he loves dearly. He contributed to society by making documentaries about the environment and dyslexia.

Robert Redford with his Oscar after he won it for Best Achievement for Directing in the movie, Ordinary People. | Source: Getty Images

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A 'WHOLE NEW LIFE' WITH SECOND WIFE

After several painful losses and a divorce, Redford gave love another chance when Sibylle Szaggars came along. Before proposing, he found life in a new light and dated her for 12 years. He said of their engagement:

“We are engaged and very happy with that. She is my fiancee, and that says everything, doesn't it?”

Robert Redford and wife Sibylle Szaggars during the 42nd Chaplin Award Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 27, 2015 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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Like her husband, Szaggars is recognized for her field of work as a multimedia environmental artist. In 2015, she founded The Way of the Rain, Inc., a non-profit organization. The following year, she became a recipient of the US State Department's Art in Embassies Program for the US Embassy.

The couple met in 1996 and tied the knot in Hamburg, Germany, in 2009. Their ceremony seated about 30 guests, including friends and family. Before their marriage, Redford and his wife lived in a 5,500-acre eco-friendly ranch in Utah for over a decade. He said of his wife:

“She's a very special person. She's younger than I am and European, which I like, so that's a whole new life.”

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Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars during the Cesar Film Awards 2019 at Salle Pleyel on February 22, 2019 in Paris, France. | Source: Getty Images

RETIREMENT FROM ACTING

Now much older, Redford prioritizes different things in life outside of his career. He revealed that 40 was the age of realization during a previous interview. Unlike his co-star, Jane Fonda, who celebrated her 40th birthday with a party, Redford went into hiding. He said:

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“When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, 'Hey, I've got a new lease on this thing. So let's go.”

His current hobbies include skiing, playing tennis, and horseback riding. With so much energy in him, the actor still has a long list of things he wants to do and movies he wants to make, such as thriller films.

Robert Redford discusses the National Press Club on October 1, 1990 about the dangers facing the environment. | Source: Getty Images

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"I like being scared, and I like scaring. And I want to keep acting, though I think the business has concluded that I don't want to act anymore," he said.

In 2018, Redford officially announced his retirement after nearly 60 years in the industry. Then 81, he made his last on-screen appearance in the movie "The Old Man & The Gun."

According to the actor, working on the film helped him make the decision. "To me, that was a wonderful character to play at this point in my life," he said of his role. Although he will no longer be acting, Redford may still go into directing.

Robert Redford candidly walking on the street. | Source: Getty Images

Months later, he revealed that announcing his retirement was a mistake because it created too much stir. Instead, he should have quietly disappeared from the acting scene.

Redford's legacy remains through his movies, shows, and grandson, Dylan, who followed in his footsteps as an actor despite leaving on-screen Hollywood.

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