Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 17:18 UK

US director Sydney Pollack dies


A look at the career of Sydney Pollack

US film director and producer Sydney Pollack has died of cancer, aged 73.

He won producing and directing Oscars for the epic romance Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, in 1985.

He also directed Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, plus The Way We Were, in which Redford partnered Barbra Streisand.

He died on Monday, surrounded by family members, at his home in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. He had been diagnosed with cancer 10 months ago.

"Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better," said George Clooney, on whose latest film, Leatherheads, Pollack was executive producer.

"A tip of the hat to a class act. He'll be missed terribly."

Sydney Pollack holds his two Oscars at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, 25 March, 1986
1993 - The Firm
1985 - Out of Africa
1982 - Tootsie
1973 - The Way We Were
1969 - They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Actress Sally Field, who was directed by Pollack in Absence of Malice, also paid tribute.

"Having the opportunity to know Sydney and work with him was a great gift in my life," Field said in a statement.

"He was a good friend and a phenomenal director and I will cherish every moment that I ever spent with him."

Born in Indiana on 1 July 1934, Pollack started out as an actor, although he was best remembered as a director.

He developed a love of drama and opted to enrol at drama school in New York - where he studied for two years under Sanford Meisner - rather than going to college.

He continued performing throughout his career, appearing in his last film, Made of Honor, opposite Patrick Dempsey earlier this year.

From the start, Pollack's career was identified with the big names and big studios of Hollywood.

The Slender Thread, his first feature film, starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft, was released by Paramount Pictures in 1965.

There will be a director's chair up there, with your name on the back
Toby, Bristol

Music producer Quincy Jones, who scored that movie, said: "Sydney Pollack's immense talents as a director were only surpassed by the compassion that he carried in his soul for his fellow man."

In later years, Pollack collaborated with the likes of Burt Lancaster, Jane Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Al Pacino, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford and Nicole Kidman.

He compared the Hollywood greats to working with thoroughbred horses, saying they were temperamental and he sometimes got thrown - but when they performed, the experience was thrilling.

But critics said as well as working with crowd-drawing stars, he also produced passionate and intelligent films which respected their audiences.

Sydney Pollack, file photo from 25 September, 2006
Pollack worked with Hollywood's leading stars for four decades
"Called the quintessential 'actor's director', Sydney let the dialogue and the emotion of a scene speak for itself," said Michael Apted, president of the Directors Guild of America.

"Not given to cinematic tricks, his gentle and thoughtful touch and his focus on the story let us inhabit the world he created in each film."

Later in his career Pollack teamed up with British film-maker Anthony Minghella, who died in March, at production company Mirage Enterprises, to become a prolific producer of independent films.

Their releases included Cold Mountain and Sketches of Frank Gehry, a 2007 documentary which was the last film Pollack directed.

Pollack is survived by his wife and his two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel.

Obituary: Sydney Pollack
27 May 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Sydney Pollack
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Ill Pollack steps down from film
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