ROBERT REDFORD ON TWO WHEELS FINDS HIS PROMISED SUNDANCE LAND

A very cool little insight below about how Robert Redford first stumbled upon his higher calling in life while riding his bike. Further proof that Four wheels move the body– but two wheels move the soul! More on Sundance later…

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ca. 1972 — Robert Redford, looking very Jeremiah Johnson here, on his Yamaha dirt bike — Image by Orlando Globey

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Robert Redford stumbled upon what would become Sundance while riding his motorcycle from his home in California to school at the University of Colorado in the 1950s and saw the totemic 12,000 foot Mount Timpanogos. “It reminded me of the Jungfrau in Switzerland,” he says. “It stuck in my head.”

He later met and married a Mormon girl from Provo, came back, and bought two acres of land for $500 in 1961 from the Stewarts, a sheep-herding family who ran the mom-and-pop Timphaven operation. Redford built a cabin and lived the mountain man life here with his young family when he wasn’t on set making his early films.

By the late 1960s, developers were beginning to change the face of Utah. Redford scrambled– using some movie earnings and rounding up investor friends to purchase another 3,000 acres, heading off a development of A-frames that would have been marched up the canyon on quarter-acre lots.

“I was determined to preserve this, but it was not bought with big money. That kind of development was the reason I left Los Angeles. So I bought the land and started the Sundance Institute before there was anything here. I was advised that I was out of my mind. But I wanted the perfect marriage of art and nature.”  

–By Everett Potter for SKI magazine, 2008

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Robert-Redford-Motorcycle

ca. 1972 — Robert Redford, looking very Jeremiah Johnson here, on his Yamaha dirt bike — Image by Orlando Globey

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ROBERT REDFORD LAUREN HUTTON MOTORCYCLE PHOTO

Robert Redford and Lauren Hutton on the set of 1970′s Little Fauss and Big Halsy (a film that Redford would rather forget…) – Image by Stephen Schapiro

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Lauren Hutton And Robert Redford In 'Little Fauss And Big Halsy'

Robert Redford and Lauren Hutton on the set of 1970′s Little Fauss and Big Halsy (a film that Redford would rather forget…) — Image by Stephen Schapiro

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robert redford yamaha motorcycle Little Fauss and Big Halsy

Robert Redford in 1970′s Little Fauss and Big Halsy — Image by Stephen Schapiro

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Robert-Redford-by-Orlando-Globey

ca. 1972 — Robert Redford on his Yamaha dirt bike — Image by Orlando Globey

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robert redford webco sweatshirt yamaha motorcycle

Robert Redford in a cool Webco sweatshirt on the set of 1970′s Little Fauss and Big Halsy — Image by Stephen Schapiro

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robert redford webco yamaha motorcycle

Robert Redford in a cool Webco sweatshirt on the set of 1970′s Little Fauss and Big Halsy — Image by Stephen Schapiro

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17 thoughts on “ROBERT REDFORD ON TWO WHEELS FINDS HIS PROMISED SUNDANCE LAND

  1. Forty years ago, it’s almost unbelievable. Kind of get a lot of brain flashes, when I think of it or try to.

  2. I am going to remember “Four wheels move the body– but two wheels move the soul!”

    “Jeremiah Johnson” is one of my favorite movies of all time.

  3. I think Little Faus and Big Halsy was an excellent movie. Redford plays a real Jerk, a role he was good at. Sound track was also very good, Johnny Cash sang the theme song for the movie. A good coming of age story, where one realizes his hero is a jerk.

  4. Dear JP, after long time great actor , great denim and cool bike shots. Was Confuse between Levi’s type 2 and 3 jacket. But now it is clear type 2 to buy. A whole lotta cool dose of movie fashion and motor bikes.
    Can’t stop myself just watching these pictures.

  5. Can’t wait for you to post more about Sundance. I grew up on the other side of Timp in Orem and worked at Sundance every winter through high school as a parking lot attendant. They’d give any local kid a job working weekends in the parking lot in exchange for a season pass. We loved it. My high point was helping Redford off a helicopter. He said thanks and hawked a loogie in the snow. I’ll never forget it!

  6. Damn, even the dirt bikes had some style back then. Where would you find a tank with that shape and paint job today?

  7. Gotta question here . According to Redford’s biographer Robert was ‘ self ‘ educated and never went to University . So why was he on his way to CU Boulder when he ‘ discovered ‘ Sundance ?

    Jess askin cause I’s a curios kind of feller ;-)

    • It’s well pretty well known and published that Redford went to the University of Colorado and had his baseball scholarship revoked for hosting several drunken shindigs. That is just a fact. I guess they were just tryin’ to spin it in his favor, I dunno.

  8. How about this?
    I worked with Sydney Pollack the director of Jeremiah Johnson for many years. He contended that Redford had been paid $$ in advance by WB. He bought the land that is now Sundance with the advance and when WB called for him to make good and deliver a movie Red asked Pollack to help. Sydney put up his home as collateral and they shot Jeremiah Johnson on that land. It saved Red and he kept the land. If you watch the movie you’ll notice there are only a handful of actors[to keep costs down] and all locations were owned by the lead.
    Cool movie lore and I suspect truer than the post above.

  9. I stood behind Robert R. in line at his (at the time) brunch restaurant at Sundance one Sunday morning. My friends had to inform me that it was Robert standing in front of me. I’m 5 ft. 6 in. He was what appeared to be 2 in. shorter than me. I hadn’t taken any notice of him. When I realized that it was he, I was too nervous to say hello. After all, he was there, as he often was, to have breakfast too. I didn’t want to disturb him. I saw him speeding through the parking lot after, I remember making eye contact with the driver and scowling thinking he was going to run over some poor child. Yikes, I scowled at Robert Redford. The Sundance complex in Provo Canyon, the restaurant, store and exhibition bldgs at that time were beautiful just like the mountain scenery. He could be seen there often, probably attending his school for acting. He brought the film festival to Snowbird. The Timpinogus/Wasatch/Uinta mountains there are beautiful. Redford appreciated Utah’s
    natural resources and beauty. Betty in TX

  10. I was working on a shoot at Sundance a few years ago when a guy pulled up on a Kawasaki KLR and said hi. I thought it was unusual that someone would be motoring around on the footpaths of the resort until I noticed who it was. Redford was still riding. The hills around there are a great place to get “lost” for a day on a dirt bike.

  11. I have read that Redford loved the script but thought the director screwed up the movie, but in my view, “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” is the poor biker’s version of “Two Lane Blacktop”. A little slice of life road movie from the seventies that Hollywood seems to no longer be capable of making. Of course, the roads aren’t the same anymore either. You didn’t have to worry about having GPS trackers or black boxes in your car back then.

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