Los Angeles: Film Director Sydney Pollack Passes Away


Los Angeles, May 27: Hollywood filmmaker Sydney Pollack, who won a pair of Academy Awards for the epic romance Out of Africa and earned praise for his acting stints in films such as Tootsie and Michael Clayton, died on Monday after a battle with cancer, his spokeswoman said. He was 73.

Spokeswoman Leslee Dart said he died at his home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades at about 5 pm local time, surrounded by his family.

Pollack was diagnosed with cancer about 10 months ago, she said, but doctors were never able to determine the primary source of the disease.

He had devoted more time to producing and acting in later years, and is currently in theaters playing Patrick Dempsey's serial-dating father in the romantic comedy Made of Honor.

The tall, curly-haired Indiana native once described his acting stints as "an excuse to spy on other directors".

"Directors are very territorial," he told CNN.com in a 2005 interview. "They're like lions, urinating on every corner of the stage."

In 2007, Pollack played a prominent supporting role as the head of a powerful law firm and George Clooney's boss in the legal thriller Michael Clayton, for which he served as a producer and shared a best picture Oscar nomination.

But his biggest triumph came with the 1985 drama, Out of Africa. Based on Isak Dinesen's 1937 memoir, the film starred Meryl Streep as the Danish owner of a coffee plantation in Kenya and Robert Redford as the American-born adventurer she falls in love with.

The movie earned 11 Academy Award nominations in all and seven wins, including Pollack's Oscars for best picture and director.

Pollack also secured Oscar nominations for directing the cross-dressing comedy Tootsie — in which he had a memorable role as star Dustin Hoffman's agent — and the Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.

In one of his more recent roles, Pollack made a guest turn on the HBO mob drama The Sopranos as a former physician imprisoned for killing his family.

He also had a recurring role the NBC sitcom Will & Grace and movie roles in Robert Altman's The Player, Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

Pollack and Redford made their feature acting debuts together in the 1962 film War Hunt.

The two went on to collaborate on seven films with Pollack as director, including Three Days of the Condor, The Way We Were with Barbra Streisand and The Electric Horseman with Jane Fonda.

In the 1980s and '90s, Pollack served as producer on a string of film projects directed by other filmmakers, including Presumed Innocent, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Sense and Sensibility and The Talented Mr Ripley.

After a lengthy hiatus from the director's chair, Pollack returned in 2005 to helm the UN-based thriller The Interpreter starring Nicole Kidman.

The same year, he directed his first and only documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, about the famed architect. He is survived by his wife, Claire; two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel; and six grandchildren. Services will be private, Dart said.


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