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Actual Urgent Message From Robert Redford Goes Unheeded

MARSING, ID—An actual urgent message from actor Robert Redford, whose mass-mailed call to action on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council reached millions of Americans last year, went unheeded last week by its lone recipient, Michael Sanborne of Marsing, ID.

A stack of Sanborne's unopened mail.

"MICHAEL, I'm asking for your help to stop the robbery and possible destruction of one of America's most treasured human resources—actor Robert Redford," read the message typed on NRDC letterhead. "At this very moment, two or more men are holding me captive within my office in order to further their profit-motivated agenda to strip my home of its valuable assets and leave me with nothing—perhaps not even my life."

"At this desperate hour, my hands are tied," the letter continued. "My office phone lines have been cut. By gnawing through my gag and inching my chair along the floor, I have been able to reach my computer, turn it on using my nose, and activate my ViaVoice speech-recognition typing software. However, my time is limited, and I have managed to successfully stick only one adhesive-backed, mass-mailing address label to an envelope. MICHAEL, it is not yet too late to prevent the extinction of noble, majestic Robert Redford, if only you act now!"

The letter Redford (below) sent to Sanborne.

Sanborne received the legal-sized envelope, marked as "An Urgent Message From Robert Redford," on March 22, but put it aside to be opened along with his bills. The Marsing resident justified his delay, explaining that he did not initially notice that the envelope was rumpled as if by careless handling, and was scrawled over with the words "HELP ME," "DANGER," and "PLS CALL PLICE [sic]."

Sanborne, who speculated that Redford had penned the envelope's capital-letter pleas with a red magic marker held between his teeth, finally read the time-sensitive letter Monday.

Redford is the author of millions of urgent letters seeking support for the halt of oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. In his letter to Sanborne, however, his message of environmental preservation was replaced by one of Redfordian preservation.

"Fellow Lover of Robert Redford: No one voted on Election Day to destroy the body, mind, and life of Robert Redford," the fourth page of the letter read. "But now, armed assailants are claiming a mandate to do exactly that! MICHAEL, please understand that without the natural resources Robert Redford requires to sustain himself, this noble creature will soon perish."

Sanborne, a 42-year-old contractor, said he is unsure why Redford chose to contact him in particular.

"I made a $40 donation to the Sierra Club in 1998," Sanborne said. "I must've wound up on some mailing list, because now I get a lot of letters with photos of polar bears and wolves on them," Sanborne said. "They all say 'urgent,' but I guess this one actually was."

"Too bad I'm probably too late to do anything," Sanborne added. "Otherwise, I might have gotten out my checkbook and sent him a few bucks."

Redford's urgent, unheeded letter ended: "If we let them plunder Robert Redford's home for the sake of profits, then no piece of our natural heritage is safe from destruction. Please—it will take you only a minute—go to 12 Ocean View Drive in Malibu and untie Robert Redford from his bonds, MICHAEL. Only through your efforts can we keep Robert Redford wild and free."

Redford, whom California authorities say has not been seen in public for the last three weeks, is presumed dead.

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