Who is Lola Van Wagenen?

Lola Van Wagenen was born in December 1938, in Provo, Utah, USA, and is an historian, but probably best known for being the former wife of actor Robert Redford, who’s known for his five-decade career in the acting profession. She is the founder of the organizations Clio Visualizing History, Inc., and Consumer Action Now.

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The Wealth of Lola Van Wagenen

As of early-2020, Lola Van Wagenen’s net worth is estimated to be over $2 million, earned largely through success in her work as a historian.

She also probably benefitted from the wealth of her ex-husband during their time together, as Robert has a net worth reputedly over $170 million; she may also have benefited from their divorce settlement.

Career Beginnings

Lola first started to gain attention as the wife of Robert Redford, and used the fame she acquired to promote numerous advocacies. One of her earliest projects was in 1970, when she founded the New York City-based educational group Consumer Action Now (CAN), serving as the co-chair of the company for a decade. As a part of her work, she often made public appearances, going on television shows and speaking engagements. The group focused on actions and programs that benefitted the environment, catered towards consumers.

One of her first big projects with the company was the Environmental Action Forum, which had numerous environmental organizations in attendance, and was responsible for lobbying the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. She wrote articles through the organization’s printed newsletter, and in the mid-1970s began promoting various energy-saving endeavors, and created the Women’s Energy Education Project.

Education and History Projects

At this point in her life, Van Wagenen wanted to complete her education, and enrolled at Vermont College in the late 1970s, just a few years shy from her divorce from Robert Redford, then continued her education through a master’s degree, enrolling at New York University (NYU) and focusing on Public History.

Lola Van Wagenen and Robert Redford

She then worked on her PhD – her dissertation was “Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage 1870-1896” which was published as a book.

With her extensive studies in American history, Lola then co-founded the company Clio Visualizing History alongside fellow historian Jeanne Houck. The goal of the company was to help bring in a bigger audience towards learning about the history of the country. This led her to documentary work, helping produce “Miss America: A Documentary Film” which was funded with the help of The National Endowment for the Humanities.

After that effort, she sought more funding, proposing other history films but most of them were shelved due to the lack of support.

Recent Projects

To help get the company going, she began doing production and research for other companies, partnering with The Asia Society, City, Lore, and McGraw Hill. In 2003, her partner Houck left the company, and she changed Clio to a not-for-profit organization, following which she worked on an online version of “Picturing the Past: Illustrated Histories and the American Imagination”.

She also helped produce “Quilts as Visual History” and “Lowell Thomas and Lawrence of Arabia: Making a Legend, Creating History”. She continued to work for Clio, focusing on big events of the past, the feminist movement, and the achievements of women dating as far back as the 1940s. She‘s also worked on other film projects such as “The State of Marriage” and “Lowell Thomas: American Storyteller”.

Former Husband – Robert Redford

Robert Redford began his career in the late 1950s, appearing in television programs. It wasn’t until a decade later that he started rising to fame, thanks to his performance in “The Voice of Charlie Pont”.

Following its success, he had a great run on Broadway playing opposite Elizabeth Ashley in “Barefoot in the Park”. Soon he ventured towards feature films, which elevated him to stardom. Some of his most notable projects during his career include “Jeremiah Johnson”, “War Hunt”, and “Inside Daisy Clover”, and particularly co-starring with Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1969.

During the latter part of his career, Redford ventured into directorial work, with his debut in “Ordinary People”, which was a huge success, establishing himself as a star director. He continued working on several films during his career though only did a few of them.

Despite that, he won many awards including Oscars for his directorial efforts. He is also credited for being the founder of the Sundance Film Festival, which has been responsible for helping with the promotion of new films, directors and actors. In 2014, he was named as one of the most influential people in the world by “Time” magazine.

Personal Life

Lola met Robert Redford in Los Angeles in 1957, and they married in secret the following year. They then had an official public wedding in late 1958 in her hometown of Provo. She was from a Mormon family though she later started exploring other religions. They had four children together and stayed together for nearly three decades.

Their eldest child passed away at two months due to sudden infant death syndrome. Following their divorce in 1985, she stayed single for a long time, eventually remarrying in 2002 to George Burrill. Robert on the other hand later married Sibylle Szaggars in 2009.

One of their children is actress and director Amy Hart Redford. She is known for appearing in projects such as “Maid in Manhattan”, “The Understudy”, and “This Revolution”. Some of her most popular projects include “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos”. As a director, one of her films “The Guitar” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

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