Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Dies at 73
Sydney Pollack seen here with Dustin Hoffman as "Tootsie", in a publicity photo for "Tootsie" in 1982, a film Mr. Pollack also directed.  (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Actor and Producer, Dies At Age 73

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

May 27, 2008

Hollywood lost one of its giants last night as Sydney Pollack, the prolific director, producer and actor passed away in Los Angeles due to cancer.  He was 73.

Mr. Pollack had an energy and generosity that was well-known in the film business.  He was a consummate professional and possessed an unyielding dedication to his work and the overall film production.  He most recently was a producer on the film "Michael Clayton", which won an Oscar earlier this year.  Mr. Pollack also starred in the film as a senior partner at a law firm.  He was also an executive producer on the current HBO Film "Recount".  Throughout his career Mr. Pollack had a strong eye for producing, and was adept at lending his hand to intriguing films such as "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "The Quiet American", "Cold Mountain", each films that were decidedly non-commercial.  Mr. Pollack came from the old school ways of Hollywood, when films gave one something to ponder, with a rich tapestry, morality and societal undercurrents to explore while maintaining entertainment value, and he was abhorrent to making films solely for the sake of pleasing the popcorn multiplex movie audience or satisfying the whims of the Hollywood studio assembly line of product simply for box-office numbers.  He also produced the upcoming film "Margaret", to be released later this year.

Even though Sydney Pollack was seared in the minds of millions of filmgoers over two generations with many acting performances including in films like "Eyes Wide Shut" (he replaced Harvey Keitel in Stanley Kubrick's final film in 1999), Mr. Pollack will be remembered for his directing of such films as "Tootsie" and "Out Of Africa".  Those two 1980s films reaped big dividends for Mr. Pollack as Oscar winning triumphs, and in the case of the former film, a huge box-office hit both domestically and around the globe.  He also helmed "The Firm" (1993), which would turn out to be a big blockbuster hit for Tom Cruise (whom he acted alongside in "Eyes Wide Shut".)  Mr. Pollack also appeared in some of the films he directed, including "Tootsie" and had some small roles in many other films he didn't direct. 

There were some Pollack-directed films that weren't so successful, like the political drama "The Interpreter" (2004), which starred Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn and was the first film ever to shoot inside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.  Mr. Pollack also didn't manage to make much of a box-office ripple with Harrison Ford, ironically the biggest box-office actor ever, in "Sabrina" and "Random Hearts".

Though he had experience as a stage actor, Mr. Pollack got his big screen start in 1962 in "War Hunt", and met one Robert Redford on the set, with whom he would collaborate in at least six other films, including "Out Of Africa", "Three Days of The Condor", "The Way We Were" and "Havana".  The two became great friends. 

For all the sweet successes that life held for the director, actor and producer, tragedy struck the Indiana-born Mr. Pollack.  In 1993 he lost his eldest child, Steven in a plane crash during the Thanksgiving holidays. 

Sydney Pollack is survived by Claire, his wife of fifty years, and their daughters Rebecca and Rachel.

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