Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 11:32 UK

Obituary: Sydney Pollack

Oscar-winning director, producer and actor Sydney Pollack attracted box office success together with critical acclaim throughout his distinguished 50-year career.

Sydney Pollack

His biggest achievement came with the 1985 drama Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, for which he collected the Academy Award for best director.

He had received his first best director nomination for They Shoot Horses Don't They? back in 1969.

Pollack was involved in blockbuster films throughout his career, producing and acting in Oscar-nominated legal thriller Michael Clayton last year.

But in August 2007, he withdrew from his latest project - political drama Recount - because of the cancer that eventually led to his death at 73.

'Golden era'

Born on 1 July 1934, Pollack moved to New York to try his luck as an actor after graduating from high school.

He studied under legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner before securing acting jobs on television.

It was a different time in the '70s - films didn't have to make as much money
Sydney Pollack in 2003

In 1961, he began to work as a director of television shows and, four years later, directed Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft in The Slender Thread.

He continued to work with Hollywood's finest in the next decade.

In Jeremiah Johnson, released in 1972, Pollack directed Redford, who also appeared with Barbra Streisand in the romantic drama The Way We Were a year later.

Pollack would later hail the 1970s as a golden era for making films.

"It was a different time in the '70s - films didn't have to make as much money," he said in 2003.

"Audiences want to feel something intense, quickly - without wasting time."

Final nomination

Pollack's biggest triumph came in 1985 with Out of Africa, which won seven Oscars and a further four nominations.

Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie
Sydney Pollack directed and acted in 1982's Tootsie

The film tells the story of a Danish baroness, played by Streep, who falls in love with Redford's adventurer in colonial Kenya.

Pollack was also shortlisted for best director for 1982's Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman as a cross-dressing actor. Pollack played Hoffman's agent in the film.

In the 1990s, he mainly worked as an executive producer but also produced and directed the box office smash The Firm, starring Tom Cruise.

He received his final Oscar nomination, for best film, for last year's release Michael Clayton.

Production company

Pollack's final film as a director was Sketches of Frank Gehry, a documentary about the famous architect.

Every time I am directing, I question why in God's name I'm doing it again
Sydney Pollack in 2005

The movie was made by Mirage, the production company Pollack set up with UK film-maker Anthony Minghella.

Pollack's determination to tackle social issues, coupled with his political and romantic sensibilities, made his films some of the most respected of the late-1960s through to the 1980s.

But the execution of his art was not without its frustrations.

"Every time I am directing, I question why in God's name I'm doing it again," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2005.

"It's like hitting yourself in the forehead with a hammer."


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Sydney Pollack
27 May 08 |  In Pictures
Ill Pollack steps down from film
07 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
Pollack 'making Bush poll movie'
02 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Pollack will film at UN building
28 Jan 04 |  Entertainment


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