Sydney Irwin Pollack - biography
Sydney Irwin Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer and actor. Pollack studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he later taught acting. He began directing television shows in the 1960s before moving to films.
Pollack directed more than 21 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 films or shows, and produced over 44 films. Some of his best known works include Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Absence of Malice (1981). His 1985 film Out of Africa won him Academy Awards for directing and producing; he was also nominated for Best Director Oscars for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Tootsie, in the latter of which he also appeared. His later films included Havana (1990), The Firm (1993), Sabrina (1995), The Interpreter (2005), and as producer for and actor in Michael Clayton (2007).
Sydney Pollack was born in Lafayette, Indiana, to a family of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, the son of Rebecca (née Miller) and David Pollack, a semi-professional boxer and pharmacist. The family relocated to South Bend and his parents divorced when he was young. His mother, an alcoholic with emotional problems, died at the age of 37 while Pollack was a student.
Despite earlier plans to attend college and then medical school, Pollack left Indiana for New York City soon after finishing high school at age 17. Pollack studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse from 1952 to 1954, working on a lumber truck between terms. After two years' army service until 1958, he returned to the Playhouse at Meisner’s invitation to become his assistant. In 1960, John Frankenheimer, a friend of Pollack's, asked him to come to Los Angeles in order to work as a dialogue coach for the child actors on Frankenheimer's first big picture, The Young Savages. It was during this time that Pollack met Burt Lancaster who encouraged the young actor to try directing.
Pollack found initial success in television in the 1960s by directing episodes of series such as The Fugitive and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His film-directing debut was 1965's The Slender Thread, starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft. Over time, Pollack's films received a total of 48 Academy Award nominations, winning 11 Oscars. His first Oscar nomination was for his 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, and his second in 1982 for Tootsie. For his 1985 film Out of Africa starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Pollack won Academy Awards for directing and producing.
During his career, he directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Jane Fonda, Gig Young, Susannah York, Barbra Streisand, Paul Newman, Melinda Dillon, Jessica Lange, Dustin Hoffman, Teri Garr, Meryl Streep, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Holly Hunter. Only Young and Lange won Oscars for their performances in one of Pollack's films.
His disputes with Hoffman during the filming of Tootsie became well-known. Eventually Hoffman began pushing the idea that Pollack play the role of his agent, and Pollack reluctantly agreed despite not having had any film roles in 20 years. Their off-screen relationship added authenticity to their scenes in the movie, most of which feature them arguing. Pollack subsequently took on more acting roles in addition to producing and directing. He appeared as himself in the documentary One Six Right, describing his joy in owning and piloting his Citation X jet aircraft.
He resumed acting with appearances in such films as The Player (1992) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999), often playing corrupt or morally conflicted power figures. As a character actor, Pollack appeared in films such as A Civil Action, and Changing Lanes, as well as his own, including Random Hearts and The Interpreter. He also appeared in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives as a New York lawyer undergoing a midlife crisis, and in Robert Zemeckis's Death Becomes Her as an emergency room doctor. His last role was as Patrick Dempsey's father in the 2008 romantic comedy Made of Honor, which was playing in theaters at the time of his death. He was a recurring guest star on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, playing Will Truman's (Eric McCormack) unfaithful but loving father, George Truman. In 2007, Pollack made guest appearances on the HBO TV series The Sopranos and Entourage in addition to earlier appearances on NBC's Just Shoot Me and Mad About You.
Pollack received the first annual Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking award from the Austin Film Festival on October 21, 2006. As a producer he helped to guide many films that were successful with both critics and movie audiences, such as The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Michael Clayton, a film in which he also starred opposite George Clooney, and for which he received his sixth Academy Award nomination, in the Best Picture category. He formed a production company called Mirage Enterprises with the English director Anthony Minghella. The last film they produced together, The Reader, earned them both posthumous Oscar nominations for Best Picture.
In the 2002 Sight and Sound Directors' Poll, Pollack revealed his top ten films: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Conformist, The Godfather Part II, Grand Illusion, The Leopard, Once Upon a Time in America, Raging Bull, The Seventh Seal, and Sunset Boulevard.
Personal life and death
Wikinews has related news: Film director Sydney Pollack dies at age 73 Pollack was married to Claire Griswold, a former student of his, from 1958 until his death. They had three children: Rachel, Rebecca, and Steven Pollack. Steven Pollack died in a plane crash in 1993. Sydney's brother Bernie Pollack is a costume designer, producer, and actor.
Concerns about Pollack's health had surfaced in 2007 when suddenly he stepped out of directing HBO's television film Recount. The film aired on May 25, 2008. Pollack died the next day of stomach cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, surrounded by family. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered along the runway at the Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys, California.
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