7 junio, 2024

Lola Van Wagenen: who she is, biography, relationship with the cinema

Who is Lola van Wagenen?

Lola Van Wagenen (1938) is an American historian, ex-wife of Robert Redford, co-founder of Consumer Action Now, a non-profit organization that offers protection to American consumers. It not only advocates for consumers, but also offers informational and educational material that informs them of everything they need to win their little battles.

Given the great success obtained with this launch, Lola Van Wagenen ventured to co-found Clio Visualizing History, Inc. in 1995, in order to promote historical content, one of her greatest interests.

This achievement not only allowed him to share his passion for history with thousands of people, but it also aroused his curiosity for the world of cinema, a world that would be a big part of his life.

Biography of Lola Van Wagenen


He was born in Utah, into a Mormon family. However, Lola Van Wagenen has never presented herself to the world as a practitioner of this religion, although she has acknowledged seeking other sources of philosophical and religious knowledge other than what her parents taught her.

Ironically, nothing is known about the family or childhood history of this famous and passionate historian, but there is information about her personal life, studies and career.


In 1957, she married Robert Redford, with whom she had four children, and from whom she divorced 27 years later. They had a secret ceremony in Las Vegas, it is even said that she ran away from college to marry the one who was the love of her life.

Just a year after the wedding, they had their first child, Scott, who died at five months of sudden death, a syndrome that was neither known nor understood at the time. It seems that this hard blow changed the life of Robert Redford forever, who until his marriage was mired in alcoholism and almost bordered on crime (due to problems related to the death of his mother). But without a doubt, his relationship with Lola was extremely beneficial for him, as she helped him focus and study art, and then acting. At that time, he was still a great unknown.

His second daughter, Sawna, sank into a depression that led her to want to commit suicide when her boyfriend was murdered. She threw her car into a lake to take her life, and she was about to never walk again.

The third of his children, James, had to undergo a liver transplant at the age of 15, but his body rejected the implanted organ and he had to undergo surgery again.

Her fourth daughter seems to have had a «normal» life, despite her parents’ divorce, which she admits affected her deeply.


He graduated with a BA in history from Vermont College in 1982, and received his MA in public history from New York University in 1984. It was from New York University that he received his Ph.D. in American history in 1994.

His doctoral thesis was considered so masterful that in 2003 it was published as a book with the title sister-wives and Suffragettes: Polygamy and the Politics of Women’s Suffrage. In 2012 this book received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the New York School of Arts and Sciences.


Lola Van Wagenen has always been very interested in helping others, as evidenced by the co-founding of two nonprofit organizations that help others, Consumer Action Now and Clio Visualizing History, Inc.

However, the CAN was only the beginning of a life dedicated to others, and in which it remains immersed to this day.

In 2002, she married George Burril, New Zealand’s honorary consul in Vermont, who was a US delegate to the US-New Zealand Partnership Forum in New Zealand. Both participated in solidarity campaigns, such as fundraising for earthquake recovery programs.

To this day, Van Wagenen participates in student scholarship programs, such as the Robertson Scholars, or one she founded with her husband: the New American Scholarship Fund.

Since 1970, he has been part of the board of directors of associations focused on charity, such as:

Shelburne Farms. This non-profit organization consists of 1,500 hectares of farm, field and forest that are maintained sustainably and without causing damage to the environment. It is used as an educational resource on how to work the rural land in an effective and harmless way.
Vermont Historical Society. Non-profit organization that connects students, academics and educators with the history of the city, which is intended to be preserved through workshops applicable to schools and other educational institutions, in order to turn them into multipliers.
New York Women’s Foundation.

His relationship with the cinema

Marriage to Robert Redford put her in the public arena, which made her see the opportunity to mix cinema with her passion and her concern for the planet.

Concern for the environment goes back decades, since already in 1977 he presented to the world The Sun Fund, a project that aimed to raise awareness about energy conservation and publicize alternative energy sources. Within this project was presented The Solar Filmnominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

She was also an executive producer of films, such as Miss America: A Documentary Film and The State of Marriage. Other cinematographic works in which he participated, completely or in part, were:

catching the shadow: America’s First Female Photographers.
The battle of the sexes: Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (this production was shelved, never saw the light of day or received funding).
Lowell Thomas: The American Storyteller.

In addition, given the function of providing historical material for Clio Visualizing History, Inc., he participated in the development of various documentaries, interactive and short books, which are used in various universities around the world.

Undoubtedly, Lola Van Wagenen was not a conventional woman as expected in her time, but rather an example that a woman can be a wife, mother, a great professional and a person who cares about others and the planet.


The «curse» of Robert Redford’s children: diseases, murders and traffic accidents. Recovered from abc.es.
Lola Van Wagenen Bio, Wife, Children, Net Worth, Grandchildren. Retrieved from heightline.com.
Consumer Action. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.

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