Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Jan. 28, 2002 at 6:38 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Robert Redford belongs to that small group of superstars who have never won an Oscar for their acting achievements.

The most notorious member of that fraternity was Cary Grant, one of the most popular and talented stars in Hollywood history. Henry Fonda, who could

have won a half-dozen Oscars, went without the prize until the year he died when he won the Academy Award for his performance in "On Golden Pond" (1981).

There have been others to be sure: Errol Flynn, John Garfield and Robert Montgomery to name a few.

But the venerable motion picture academy has seen fit to right the oversight of its voting membership by giving honorary awards late in their

lives to Charlie Chaplin, Kirk Douglas and a handful of others.

This year an honorary award will be given Redford by the academy's board of governors reading: "Robert Redford -- actor, director, producer, creator of Sundance, inspiration to independent and innovative filmmakers everywhere."

It is a fitting tribute indeed for Redford, a Hollywood maverick who has always marched to his own drum and measured up to his personal standards of excellence.

He already owns an Oscar for directing "Ordinary People" (1980) and was nominated for producing and directing Oscars for "Quiz Show" (1994).

Redford has been nominated only once for an Academy Award for best actor, for "The Sting" in 1973. Jack Lemmon won for "Save The Tiger."

All the same, Redford was the leading box-office attraction for three consecutive years 1973-75.

Oscars theoretically are bestowed upon actors and actresses for a single performance, not a cumulative number of performances over a period of years.

Also ostensibly, they are voted not on personal popularity nor box-office figures, but for a single on-screen achievement.

Redford's movies have included superior acting performances in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), "Jeremiah Johnson" (1972), "The

Candidate" (1972), "The Way We Were" (1973), "The Sting" (1973), "The Great Gatsby" (1974) and "Three Days of the Condor" (1975).

His performances in more recent films have been highly praised, but the movies themselves were not top drawer: "The Horse Whisperer," "Up Close &

Personal," "Indecent Proposal," "Havana," "the Last Castle" and "Spy Game."

From the beginning of his acting career to the present Redford has been hampered by his reputation for being a pretty boy: square-jawed, blue-eyed, tousled blond hair, flat abdomen and resonant baritone.

Many of the same characteristics doomed Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power, Richard Gere, Flynn and Grant were considered too handsome to be taken

seriously as actors.

Paul Newman managed to escape that disadvantage as did the young Marlon Brando, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck, all of whom won Academy Awards.

For the most part, Oscar-winning actors have not been collar ads: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Ben Kingsley, Robert Duvall, F. Murray Abraham,

Peter Finch, Art Carney, George C. Scott, Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine, the epitome of not-so-handsome actors.

Redford is receiving his Honorary Academy Award for contributions to motion pictures that include his acting among other gifts gracing movies as

the dominant lively art worldwide.

Always somewhat a loner, Redford -- a one-time itinerant painter in Europe -- made his homes not in Hollywood but in New York City and Utah on a

sprawling ranch where he became an exponent of environmental causes and established the Sundance Institute in 1980 to support and develop independent filmmaking.

The institute sponsors the Sundance Film Festival -- which is held every winter in Park City, Utah, and celebrated its 20th anniversary this year -- has become second only to France's Cannes Film Festival as the most important showcase for independent filmmakers.

Since producing and co-starring with Hoffman in "All The President's Men," Redford has been a political activist who most often promotes liberal causes and candidates.

In a formal announcement the academy said it was presenting an Oscar to Redford for "exceptional distinction in the making of motion pictures and

for outstanding service to the Academy."

Previous recipients include Ernest Lehman, Stanley Donen, Deborah Kerr, Federico Fellini, Ralph Bellamy, Michael Kidd, Alex North and Hal Roach.

Redford clearly deserves to find himself in such distinguished company. He will be warmly greeted by the star-studded crowd at the 74th annual Academy Awards March 24 at the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Doubtless Redford will cherish the trophy, but it might not be as exciting for him as an acting statuette might have been decades ago. Even though

Redford's acting will be recognized with an asterisk in the academy's annals, the academy is at least recognizing his contributions to film with a fitting tribute.

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