Early Life and Education
Robards was born and raised in Chicago, the son of Hope Maxine (née Glanville) Robards and Jason Robards, Sr., an actor who regularly appeared on the stage and in such early films as The Gamblers (1929). Robards was of English, Welsh, Irish, and Swedish descent.
The family moved to New York City, New York, when Jason Jr. was still a toddler, and then moved to Los Angeles, California, when he was six years old. Later interviews with Robards suggested that the trauma of his parents' divorce, which occurred during his grade-school years, greatly affected his personality and worldview.
As a youth, Robards also witnessed first-hand the decline of his father's acting career. The elder Robards had enjoyed considerable success during the era of silent films, but he fell out of favor after the advent of "talkies" (sound film), leaving the younger Robards soured on the Hollywood film industry.
The teenaged Robards excelled in athletics, running a 4:18 mile during his junior year at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. Although his prowess in sports attracted interest from several universities, upon his graduation in 1940, Robards decided to join the Navy.
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