LOS ANGELES – James Redford, a filmmaker, activist and son of actor Robert Redford, has died. He was 58.
Robert Redford’s publicist, Cindi Berger, said in a statement Monday that the 84-year-old father is mourning with his family during this “difficult time.” His wife, Kyle, confirmed in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that her husband died Friday from bile-duct cancer in his liver.
Kyle said her husband’s liver disease returned two years ago and the cancer was discovered in November last year while he waited on a liver transplant.
She posted a message and a slew of photos on Twitter that included James, herself and their family.
“We’re heartbroken,” his wife wrote about her husband, who was called Jamie. “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).”
James battled with liver disease for more than 30 years. But he went on with his life, marrying his wife Kyle who once taught eighth-grade history in Marin County. The couple had two children together.
He expressed gratitude for a liver transplant that saved his life 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 reflected. “Think of the fact that every day 10-12 people die waiting to be transplanted. It had an impact on me, and I became committed to do something to help the cause of organ donation.”
James and his father co-founded the Redford Center, a nonprofit focused on environmental filmmaking. He also established the James Redford Institute in 1995 for Transplant Awareness to raise money and distribute tools to increase awareness about the shortage of organ donors.
“With Jamie came love and contagious joy," said Redford Center executive director Jill Tidman 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 including “Flow,” a 16-minute film aimed at a teen audience that was distributed for educational reasons, 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.”
James 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," which was about “The Joy Luck Club" author Amy Tan for PBS' “American Masters."