Sydney Pollack

Created on 27/5/2008

Sydney Pollack, the Academy Award-winning director of "Out of Africa" who achieved acclaim making popular, mainstream movies with A-list stars, including "The Way We Were" and "Tootsie," died Monday. He was 73.Pollack, who also was a producer and actor, died of cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades.

I only sat down to talk with him once, and that was quite some time ago. He was a dignified, humorous and helpful man, and I was astounded he took the time to be helpful to me, then just a young man trying to make his way. He treated me with old world courtesy and grace, and I shall always treasure that afternoon and his wisdom and kindness.

I also want to pay tribute to him as a filmmaker. Sydney could direct, act or produce with equal dexterity, and always with wit, taste and excellence. If you glance at the wonderful list of his films you will see why he shall be sadly missed.

Sydney Pollack was an Academy Award-winning director who collaborated with a long list of elite actors on films such as "Out of Africa," "Tootsie," "The Way We Were" and "Absence of Malice."

Unlike many other top directors of his era, Pollack was also a film and television actor himself, and he used this unique position to forge a relationship with Hollywood's elite stars and create some of the most successful films of the 1970s and '80s.

In 1970, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" about Great Depression marathon dancers, received nine Oscar nominations, including one for Pollack's direction. He was nominated again for best director for 1982's "Tootsie," starring Dustin Hoffman as a cross-dressing actor and Pollack as his exasperated agent. As director and producer, he won Academy Awards for the 1986 romantic epic "Out of Africa," starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, which captured seven Oscars in all.

Last autumn, Pollack played law firm boss Marty Bach opposite George Clooney in "Michael Clayton," which he also co-produced and received seven Oscar nominations.

Sydney, farewell, you were an immense talent but above all, you were a mensch.