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James Redford, son of Robert Redford, dies of liver cancer at 58

James Redford, filmmaker, activist and son of actor Robert Redford, in November 1998
James Redford, filmmaker, activist and son of actor Robert Redford, in November 1998.
(Dave Weaver / Associated Press)

James Redford, a filmmaker, activist and son of actor Robert Redford, has died. He was 58.

His wife, Kyle, confirmed in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune that her husband died Friday from bile-duct cancer in his liver. Robert Redford’s publicist, Cindi Berger, said in a statement Monday that the elder Redford, 84, is mourning with his family during this “difficult time.”

Kyle Redford said that her husband’s liver disease returned two years ago and that the cancer was discovered in November of last year while he waited for a liver transplant.

She posted a message and a number of photos on Twitter that included James, herself and their family.

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“We’re heartbroken,” she said of her husband. “He lived a beautiful, impactful life & was loved by many. He will be deeply missed. As his wife of 32 [years], I’m most grateful for the two spectacular children we raised together. I don’t know what we would’ve done [without] them over the past 2 [years].”

Redford had battled liver disease for more than 30 years and received a transplant that saved his life. He expressed his gratitude in an HBO documentary, “The Kindness of Strangers,” in 1999. He produced the film and raised its $600,000 budget from foundations, corporations and individuals, including his parents.

“The experience made me realize how fortunate I was,” Redford said. “Think of the fact that, every day, 10 to 12 people die waiting [for a transplant]. ... It had an impact on me, and I became committed to do something to help the cause of organ donation.”

Redford and his Oscar-winning father cofounded the Redford Center, a nonprofit organization focused on environmental filmmaking. He also established the James Redford Institute in 1995 for Transplant Awareness to increase awareness of the shortage of organ donors.

“With Jamie came love and contagious joy,” Jill Tidman, executive director of the Redford Center, said in an Instagram post. “He approached everything he did with kindness and warmth, and an openness that spread itself easily among others.”

The institute produced films such as “Flow,” a 16-minute educational film aimed at a teen audience, and “From One to Another,” a one-hour film that looks at those who have received organ transplants and those who are awaiting them at the Nebraska Health System University Hospital.

“The best way to reach people is on a personal level,” Redford said. “There are so many movies to make.”

He wrote the script for “Hearts and Bones,” starring Kiefer Sutherland and Daryl Hannah, and adapted Tony Hillerman’s “Skinwalkers” for North Fork Pictures.

At the time of his death, his wife said, he was finishing a documentary called “Where the Past Begins,” about “The Joy Luck Club” author Amy Tan for the PBS series “American Masters.”


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