But enough hearsay. Down to hard evidence.
Exhibit A: Although I was continually put off from seeing Redford in person, there were other means by which to pursue the investigation. From Pictorial Parade we obtained the photograph above. The Redfords are strolling up Fifth Avenue, a few steps from the Sheey-Netherland and an easy prey to plane geometry. Note the trash disposal can on the right. I imagined that by measuring its height, calculating the distance from it to Redford, and refurbishing some of the axioms from my ninth-grade geometry class, I would have Mr. Redford in the proverbial hypotenuse. But Redford’s men apparently beat me to the punch. When I went to measure the trash can, I found it had been replaced with one of those heavy cement ones with the advertising panels.
No problem. What they had forgotten to do was rub out the lines in the pavement. These lines, I discovered, are exactly 50 inches long. Now, measuring my eight-by-ten glossy photograph, I find that 50 real inches are reduced to three and seven-sixteenths photographic inches. (This is measure horizontally across the pavement at a point just beneath Mr. Redford’s epicenter.) Redford, meantime, is four and seven-eighths photographic inches tall, allowing a little for him to straighten his neck. Therefore, 3 7/16 ÷ 4 7/8 = 50 ÷ X, with X = Redford. Solving for X, we find tat Redford is almost exactly five-eleven, with his shoes on. And note the heels. It may be hard to see in the reproduction, but in the original glossy photo his left heel looks very much like one of those two-inch jobbies. What’s more, his right heel, though obscured from view, must be at least three inches off the ground. (If you don’t believe me, try walking with both the heel and the toe of your back foot touching the ground.) Netting footwear and gait from our equation, Mr. Redford would appear to be around five-eight-and-a-half in his bare feet, or perhaps even less.*
Exhibit B: Michael J. Pollard claims to be five-feet-eight. Well, that’s another article (as is Jack Nicholson who they say is only five-feet-eight). But taking him at his word, notice how he stacks up next to Redford in this unretouched photo. And again Redford is wearing heels that are an inch and three-quarters at the very least.
Exhibit C: Caught “barefoot in the park,” yes—but obviously stretching. And take note that the lines in the pavement seem to have been removed also.
Exhibit D: Redford is nobody’s fool. Have you ever noticed how he is always the last one off a step? But we are nobody’s fool, either. We can count bricks. However many stones Redford may weight—we couldn’t care less—he is clearly 26 bricks tall.
Persuasive as the indirect evidence is, the only way to really be sure, we decided, was to see the man eye to eye, and then take a look at his footwear. It was not easy to arrange such a meeting.
But I have seen Robert Redford, at last, and I can tell you that he is five-nine-and-three-quarters.
Give or take.