Who Is Lola Van Wagenen? Activist, Film Maker, and Philanthropist

Today, we’re excited to dive into the life and legacy of Lola Van Wagenen, an inspiring figure who left her mark on history. While she may not be a household name, her contributions to environmental activism, filmmaking, and philanthropy have significantly impacted society. From her early days in Hollywood to her marriage to Robert Redford, Lola’s life has been full of fascinating twists and turns.


Lola Van Wagenen was born on December 12, 1938, in Provo, Utah, to a father of Dutch descent. While we don’t know much about her family or upbringing, we know that she was raised as a Mormon. But, as Lola grew up and started to explore the world around her, she also began to explore different religious beliefs and philosophical ideas. So, while her upbringing significantly shaped who she became, Lola was never one to shy away from new experiences or ideas.


She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Vermont College in 1982. Two years later, she received her Master’s degree in Public History from New York University (NYU), followed by her Ph.D. in American History from the same institution ten years later. Her doctoral dissertation, which explored the intersection of polygamy and the suffrage movement, was later published as a book titled “Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage 1870-1896” in 2003. Her impressive academic journey culminated in 2012 when she was awarded the Distinguished Alumni/Alumnae Achievement Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at NYU. Lola’s intellectual curiosity and dedication to scholarship drove her to reach great heights in academia.

Lola Van Wagenen Career Timeline

Lola Van Wagenen is a woman of many passions and dedicated her life to making a difference in the world. Her journey began in 1970 when she co-founded Consumer Action Now (CAN) with Ilene Jones Goldman, Linda Stewart, and Cynthia Burke Stein. CAN was a non-profit organization that aimed to educate people about environmental and consumer-related topics. Lola served as the co-chairperson of CAN from 1970 to 1980 and wrote numerous articles for their newsletter.

Lola Van Wagenen
Lola Van Wagenen I Image Source: google.com

Lola also took the initiative to reach out to the public and spread awareness about environmental issues through various public speaking programs and local forums. She formed the Environmental Action Forum and Political Action Council in 1972 to combat environment-related issues. The Political Action Council played a pivotal role in the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.

In 1977, Lola created The Sun Fund to educate people about energy conservation and the use of alternative energy sources. Her ‘Solar Energy Slide Show’ project was a great initiative to raise awareness about solar energy. It was later made into a short film, ‘The Solar Film,’ which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1980.

She organized SunDay in New York in 1978, a three-day event focused on environmental issues. The U.S. Small Business Administration and the New York Institute of Technology sponsored her.

Lola was also passionate about women’s causes. She established the Women’s Energy Education Project in 1979 and 1980 in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The project published ‘Women’s Energy Handbook,’ ‘Women Tapping a New Resource for Energy,’ and ‘Women’s Energy Toolkit.’

Many institutes recognized her relentless efforts to promote energy conservation and renewable energy resources. In 1979, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science by the Pratt Institute for her efforts.

During her Ph.D. in American history, Lola established Clio Visualizing History Inc. with the help of a prominent historian, Jeanne Houck. The goal was to raise awareness about American history in the general public. She produced ‘Miss America: A Documentary Film’ in 2002 and went on to produce two more documentary films, ‘Lowell Thomas: The American Storyteller’ (2008) and ‘The State of Marriage’ (2015).

Executive producer

She was an executive producer of several films, including the critically acclaimed Miss America: A Documentary Film broadcast on the PBS series American Experience in January 2002. She also produced The State of Marriage, which was released in 2015.

Published Author

However, Lola was not just a film producer. She was also a published author. Her book, Sister-Wives, and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage 1870- 1896, was published in 2003. Her writing explored the intersection of gender, politics, and history, shedding light on important and often overlooked aspects of American society. Lola was also a talented journalist, as evidenced by her article “In Their Own Behalf: The Politicization of Mormon Women and the 1870 Franchise.”

Lola Van Wagenen was a trailblazer throughout her life, constantly pushing boundaries and breaking down barriers. She was passionate about environmentalism, women’s rights, and renewable energy, among many other causes. Her achievements were many, and her legacy continues to inspire new generations of activists and thinkers.

Lola Van Wagenen Personal Life

Lola Van Wagenen has impressive physical features. Her beautiful brown eyes and blonde hair are a stunning combination that makes her stand out in a crowd. Plus, did you know that she’s a Sagittarius? As someone born under this zodiac sign, she’s known for her adventurous spirit, open-mindedness, and independent nature.


Lola Van Wagenen and First Husband, Robert Redford
Lola Van Wagenen and First Husband, Robert Redford | Image Source: pinterest.cl

Both joy and sorrow have marked Lola Van Wagenen’s personal life. In 1958, she tied the knot with the talented actor Robert Redford, with whom she had four beautiful children: Scott Anthony, Shauna Jane, David James, and Amy. Sadly, their first son, Scott, passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a tragic event that left the family devastated.

Throughout their marriage, Redford battled with alcohol addiction, which was challenging for Lola and her children. Despite their struggles, they remained together until 1985, when they decided to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences.

However, Lola’s love story didn’t end there. In 2002, she married George Carlton Burlew, a trustee of the Woodbury Institute at Champlain College. Although they kept a low profile, Lola and George’s love was evident in how they supported each other’s endeavors and worked together to improve their community.

Even with the ups and downs of life, Lola’s resilience and strength shone through. Her family remains a testament to her unwavering love, while her second marriage proved that love can come at any age.

Social media

Lola Van Wagenen prefers to stay offline and is not an avid social media user. While some people love to document their every move online, Lola values her privacy and prefers to keep things low-key. She doesn’t feel the need to constantly share her thoughts and activities with the world and enjoys living in the moment without the distractions of technology.

Lola Van Wagenen Net worth

According to reports, her net worth is valued at an impressive $3 million. It’s clear that Lola has had a successful career in Writing in the film industry as an executive producer, and it’s great to see her hard work paying off in her other ventures as well.


From her early days as the wife of Hollywood icon Robert Redford to her impressive career as a filmmaker and historian, there’s no denying that Lola Van Wagenen has lived an incredible life. Despite keeping a low profile and not being very active on social media, she has made a lasting impact on the entertainment industry and beyond. And let’s not forget her dedication to social and political causes, including women’s suffrage and the fight against climate change.

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Femi Abimboye

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