James's wife, Kyle, confirmed he died on Friday from bile-duct cancer in his liver

By Alexia Fernandez
October 19, 2020 04:53 PM
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Robert Redford and his son, James
| Credit: M. Caulfield/WireImage

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

James’ wife, Kyle, confirmed the news on Friday on her Twitter account, sharing several photos of her husband and their family.

“James died today. We’re heartbroken. He lived a beautiful, impactful life & was loved by many,” Kyle tweeted. “As his wife of 32 yrs, I’m most grateful for the two spectacular children we raised together.”

She added, “I don’t know what we would’ve done w/o them over the past 2 yrs.”

On Monday, Kyle told The Salt Lake Tribune James died from bile-duct cancer in his liver. Kyle said her husband’s liver disease had returned two years ago and that the cancer was discovered last November while he was awaiting a liver transplant.

James' health struggles stemmed from childhood. In 1993, James received two liver transplants, and after his surgeries, he founded the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness, a nonprofit founded to educate about organ and tissue donation.

In 2005, James and Robert founded The Redford Center, a non-profit focusing on producing films and providing grants to filmmakers who direct films touching on the environment and climate and that provide solutions to climate change.

The Redford Center's executive director Jill Tidman also shared the news of James' death on Instagram writing on Monday, "It is with profound sadness that we grieve the loss of James Redford, our Co-Founder, our inspiration and our friend.

"With Jamie came love and contagious joy. He approached everything he did with kindness and warmth, and an openness that spread itself easily among others," the post read. "Jamie worked tirelessly to build a healthier world for us all, and particularly for those most in need of support. He always led with his enormous heart and was guided by his curiosity and creative spirit. He was a fierce protector of the natural world and believed that everyone deserved a healthy environment in which they could thrive and play."

The post continued, "As a filmmaker, writer and activist, Jamie was intentional and inspirational. As a father, husband, brother, son and a friend to so many - he was a devout supporter, always full of hope. He will be greatly and intensely missed. The Redford Center extends our deepest sympathy and love to Jamie’s family. We ask that you hold them close in your heart as we move forward in Jamie’s name and walk proudly in his footsteps.

"Together we will carry forward his big and beautiful legacy. - Jill Tidman, Executive Director."

James was Robert’s third child with his ex-wife Lola Van Wagenen. They had four children together: Scott, who died just two months after birth in 1959 from sudden infant death syndrome; daughter Shauna, 59, James, and Amy, who turns 50 on Thursday.

He worked as a documentary filmmaker and debuted his first documentary in 2012, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, which was inspired by his son, Dylan and his struggles with dyslexia while in high school.

James Redford
| Credit: Jeff Vespa/WireImage

His 1999 documentary, The Kindness of Strangers, which he produced, was inspired by his experience receiving two liver transplants from strangers.

His other films include Paper Tigers, Resilience, Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution, Toxic Hot Seat and his most recent film Playing for Keeps.

Kyle told the Salt Lake Tribune James had been finalizing directing a PBS documentary Where the Past Begins, which traces the immigrant journey of The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan.

James is survived by his wife, Kyle, and their two children, Dylan and Lena.