By People Staff
December 27, 1976 12:00 PM

Robert Redford has long been an acute disappointment to people who think anybody that beautiful should have the good grace to be dumb. He’s shrewd, witty, independent, hardworking and the nation’s No. 1 male sex symbol. But doubts about his acting ability have persisted, and Hollywood is in love with its legend that a producer’s face should resemble an ashtray with a wet cigar butt hanging out of it. The community couldn’t imagine Redford as an effective movie mogul.

That’s all changed. In April, after three years of preparation relentlessly supervised by producer Redford himself, All the President’s Men opened in Washington. Based on the Woodward and Bernstein best-seller about Watergate, it starred Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the reporter-heroes. ATPM, puffed by reviewers as the best political chiller since Z and the only believable movie ever made about journalism, became the top domestic grosser of 1976. To date it has earned $85 million worldwide. “Right now,” says a film executive, “Redford could raise $20 million for a social-protest picture about undernourished cockroaches.”

Characteristically, Redford lost no time getting in out of the confetti. Determined to take a year off to “catch up on me,” he spent his 39th summer at his Utah hideaway, riding the high country with his wife and three children and writing a heartfelt 36-page article for National Geographic about the old Outlaw Trail. But in September Joe Levine lured him to Holland for the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far. Redford, who didn’t even have to shave (location shot, left), scooped up $2 million for four weeks’ work.

Currently he’s in preproduction on two new movies, one of them the Judith Guest best-seller Ordinary People. He also took time out in October, after an overnight bull session with Jimmy Carter in Plains, to support publicly the candidate’s position on the environment. “And I guess,” he says, “All the President’s Men didn’t do the Democrats any harm.”