Hollywood Flashback: Robert Redford Won a Globe Playing a Gay Actor in 1965

Warner Bros./Photofest
Natalie Wood and Robert Redford in 1965's 'Inside Daisy Clover.'

'Inside Daisy Clover' — which earned Redford the new star of the year award — was one of the first Hollywood films in which a gay character is not ashamed of his sexuality.

Robert Redford, who at 82 has said 2018's The Old Man & the Gun may be the last film he acts in, was 29 when he got his first major big screen role, in 1965's Inside Daisy Clover.

He'd done lots of episodic TV but only one feature, an intelligent but largely forgotten low-budget United Artists production, War Hunt, which is unique in that three supporting castmembers went on to win best director Oscars: Redford for Ordinary People; Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather: Part II; and Sydney Pollack, who would direct Redford in seven films, including Out of Africa.

With Clover, THR was a fan of both the film, which it said "will be a big hit," and Redford — "a young leading man of great charm and promise." The film's plot centers on a 15-year-old waif (Natalie Wood, then 26, in what was her 38th movie) who is discovered by a Hollywood producer (Christopher Plummer) while selling vintage celebrity photos on the Santa Monica pier. She quickly becomes a star and marries a fellow actor, played by Redford, who is secretly gay. (Redford has said the character is not explicitly gay but "mysterious, arrogant and charming, attractive to both sexes.")

Clover — which earned Redford the Golden Globes' new star of the year award — was one of the first Hollywood films in which a gay character is not ashamed of his sexuality. It grossed only $1.5 million ($12 million today) but went on to become a cult classic.

This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.