Sydney Pollack biography
The Interpreter Director
Date of Birth: July 1, 1934
Originally from Lafayette, Indiana, Sydney Pollack began his career as an actor after studying with Sanford Meisner at New York City's famed Neighborhood Playhouse. He started on stage, then quickly made his name as a television director in the late 1950s/early 1960s with shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Defenders, Ben Casey and The Fugitive . In 1966 he won an "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama" Emmy for the episode "The Game" on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.
Pollack hadn't given up acting though, and made his big screen debut in War Hunt (1962), where he met fellow actor Robert Redford, who was also making his big screen debut. His first feature film as a director was The Slender Thread (1965), starring Sidney Poitier. For his next film, This Property is Condemned (1966), Pollack called on his good friend Redford to play the male lead opposite Natalie Wood. Pollack and Redford would work together on six more films over the years, including Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1975), The Electric Horseman (1979), Out of Africa (1985) and Havana (1990).
Although nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his direction of the Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), it wasn't until he directed, produced and played a role in Tootsie (1982), starring Dustin Hoffman that Pollack was so honored again. Although he received Golden Globe, Oscar and BAFTA nominations, he won only a New York Film Critics Circle award for his work that time. Pollack's biggest success came just a few years later with Out of Africa (1985), starring Redford and Meryl Streep. This time, he won two Oscars -- one for Best Direction and one for Best Picture, as well as several smaller awards from various film festivals.
More recently, Pollack has concentrated on producing films such as The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Quiet American (2002) and Cold Mountain (2003), but he returned to directing with The Interpreter (2004), starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.
Pollack died on May 26, 2008 of cancer, leaving behind his wife of 50 years, Claire Griswold, with whom he has three children -- Steven, who died in 1993 in a plane crash; Rebecca, who served as a vice president at United Artists during the 1990s and youngest daughter Rachel.