- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood filmmaker Sydney Pollack, who won a pair of Academy Awards for the epic romance “Out of Africa” and earned praise for his acting stints in films such as “Tootsie” and “Michael Clayton,” died yesterday after a battle with cancer, his spokeswoman said. He was 73.

Spokeswoman Leslee Dart said Mr. Pollack died at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades, surrounded by his family. He was diagnosed with cancer about 10 months ago, she said.

Mr. Pollack had devoted more time to producing and acting in later years. His last screen appearance was in “Made of Honor,” a romantic comedy in which he plays Patrick Dempsey’s serial-dating father.

Last fall, Mr. Pollack played a prominent supporting role as the head of a powerful law firm and George Clooney’s boss in the legal thriller “Michael Clayton,” for which he served as a producer and shared an Oscar nomination for best picture.

His biggest triumph came with the 1985 drama “Out of Africa.” Based on Isak Dinesen’s 1937 memoir, the film starred Meryl Streep as the Danish owner of a coffee plantation in Kenya and Robert Redford as the American-born adventurer with whom she falls in love.

The movie earned 11 Academy Award nominations and seven wins, including Mr. Pollack’s Oscars for best picture and director.

Mr. Pollack also secured Oscar nominations for directing the cross-dressing comedy “Tootsie,” in which he had a memorable role as star Dustin Hoffman’s agent, and the Depression-era drama “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”

In one of his more recent roles, Mr. Pollack made a guest turn on the HBO mob drama “The Sopranos” as a former physician imprisoned for killing his family.

He also had a recurring role on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” and movie roles in Robert Altman’s “The Player,” Robert Zemeckis’ “Death Becomes Her” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.”

Mr. Pollack and Mr. Redford made their feature acting debuts together in the 1962 film “War Hunt.” The two went on to collaborate on seven films with Mr. Pollack as director, including “The Way We Were,” with Barbra Streisand, and “The Electric Horseman,” with Jane Fonda.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, Mr. Pollack served as producer on a string of projects directed by other filmmakers, including “Presumed Innocent” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

After a lengthy hiatus, he returned in 2005 to direct the U.N.-based thriller “The Interpreter,” starring Nicole Kidman.

Mr. Pollack is survived by his wife, Claire; two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel; and six grandchildren.



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