Sydney Pollack, a two-time Oscar winner and dominant figure in Hollywood for 40 years as an actor, producer, and director of star-driven pictures (including Out of Africa, Tootsie, and The Way We Were), died Monday at his Los Angeles home at age 73, the New York Times reports. The cause was cancer, a family representative told the Times.
Pollack, an Emmy-winning TV director before his breakthrough success on the big screen with 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, was one of the top Hollywood directors and producers of the ’70s and ’80s, specializing in movies with broad canvases and big stars, particularly Robert Redford, whom Pollack directed in seven movies. He hit a career peak in 1985 with Out of Africa, a sprawling romantic epic that starred Redford and Meryl Streep, winning Pollack Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture (as the film’s producer). He also earned acclaim as a character actor in supporting roles in many of his own movies (most memorably, Tootsie, in which he played Dustin Hoffman’s exasperated agent) and those of other directors (including Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, which Pollack also produced).
Though he hadn’t directed a feature film since the 2005 documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry, he was still busy as an actor (this month’s Made of Honor) and producer (the HBO movie Recount, which premiered on Sunday, hours before his death). Indeed, he seemed to enjoy directing least of all his many jobs. ”Every time I am directing,” he told EW at the time he helmed The Interpreter, his last fiction feature, ”I question why in God’s name I’m doing it again. It’s like hitting yourself in the forehead with a hammer.” (The New York Times)
Filmography: See Pollack’s career in pictures.