'In an early role. ... ' (Hint: It's Robert Freakin' Redford)

For, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018

Tuesday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” had a category labeled “You Are Now Entering the Twilight Zone,” devoted to episodes of the original “Twilight Zone” TV series, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

You know how “Jeopardy!” works, right. An answer is given and the contestant responds with the question.

So, in this case, one of the “Twilight Zone” answers was, “In an early role, this actor played Mr. Death, sent to collect an old lady who refuses to face the end.”

The “question” was, “Who is Robert Redford?”

The three players might be forgiven for a lack of knowledge about a 55-year-old TV show; all were certainly too young to have seen it in 1962, when the episode, “Nothing in the Dark,” originally aired.

But this was the only question in that category that was accompanied by a photograph — specifically, the picture above this column.

C’mon, you can identify the actor in this photo, right?

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”? “The Sting”? “The Way We Were”? “All the President’s Men”? “The Natural”? “The Horse Whisperer”?

OK, the most recent of those, “The Horse Whisperer,” is 20 years old, so I guess it’s possible for young folks to be unaware of them. (Gulp!)

But how about the 2014 superhero adventure, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”? Or maybe the 2016 remake of “Pete’s Dragon”?


Robert Redford, left, Chris Evans, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

It’s not like we’re talking about an inactive, forgotten actor here. Redford is still starring in movies. And, at age 80, he’s about to kick off another Sundance Film Festival next week.

When this answer/photo came up on “Jeopardy!” I thought, wow this is a really easy one. But not one contestant even buzzed in. They had no idea.

I don’t mind saying that I was genuinely shocked.

But I’m not naïve about it. On a regular basis I learn that people younger than me … which these days is just about everyone  … can’t identify a lot of movie stars of the past.

Over the last year, in conversations about films, I’ve had people ask, “Who’s that actor in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?” My response: “You mean James Stewart?”

And also, “What’s the name of that guy that gets chased by the airplane in ‘North By Northwest’?” Me: “You mean Cary Grant?”

If someone brought up “Pillow Talk,” I guess they’d be asking the names of Rock Hudson and Doris Day before the subject of a telephone party line came up!

So I am used to learning that young people — and by young I mean some are in their 40s — are often wildly uninformed about anything pre-“The Dark Knight.”

But Robert Redford? Really?


Clockwise from top left, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, young Oona Laurence, 'Pete's Dragon'

After all, the guy starred in two Netflix films this year — “The Discovery” and “Our Souls at Night.”

Young people do watch other Netflix shows besides “Stranger Things,” don’t they?

Redford also gets top billing in “The Old Man and the Gun,” which will play in theaters later this year, and I guess people will wonder who the heck his co-stars are? Ever hear of Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover or Keith Carradine?

Hey, the film also co-stars Elisabeth Moss and Casey Affleck.

And since Moss won a Golden Globe last weekend and Affleck won the best-actor Oscar last year, they’re more identifiable to young ’uns, right?

Or maybe I’m just mired in movie minutiae.