Robert Redford, actor, director, director and Westerner, is currently in production on a new documentary series about the historic American West. Entitled The West, the series will debut in 2014 on The Discovery Channel.
The series, created by Redford’s Sundance Productions, will examine the time period from the close of the US Civil War in 1865 to the early years of the 20th century. The West will feature the stories of the outlaw Jesse James, Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse, Wyatt Earp of OK Corral fame, and Wild West show impresario Buffalo Bill.
Redford has maintained a presence in the American West throughout his adult life. He first built a home in Utah in the early 1960s and in 1978 established the now-acclaimed Sundance Film Festival in that state. The festival’s name is drawn from Redford’s role as The Sundance Kid in the hit 1969 Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which starred Paul Newman as Cassidy.
In 1975, Redford and a small party on horseback travelled along the historic “Outlaw Trail”, a route used by Western outlaws that stretches from the border of Canada to Mexico. The Outlaw Trail provided hide-outs and relay-stations with fresh horses for bandits on the run such as Butch Cassidy (real name Robert Leroy Parker). Redford and his group rode sections of the trail that crossed Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, visiting along the way with ranchers living in that region.
Redford’s written reflections and photographs of the ride were published as an article in National Geographic in 1976 and expanded into the book, The Outlaw Trail: A Journey Through Time, published in 1978. That book closed with a photograph of Redford sitting with Butch Cassidy’s then-94 year-old sister, Lula Parker Betenson, on the land where their family had lived in Utah.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)