Sydney Pollack dies of cancer at age 73

Legendary director and occasional actor Sydney Pollack has died of stomach cancer at his home, surrounded by his friends and family, according to the Associated Press. Pollack directed some of the most influential and commercially successful films of the last forty years, including Tootsie, The Way We Were, The Interpreter, The Firm, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Out of Africa, and most recently, Sketches of Frank Gehry. Pollack produced so many influential films that it’s impossible to pick even the top five. He also took small acting roles in some of his films and played Will’s father on Will & Grace.

Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like “The Way We Were,” “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa” were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73. The cause was cancer, said a representative of the family.

Mr. Pollack’s career defined an era in which big stars (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty) and the filmmakers who knew how to wrangle them (Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols) retooled the Hollywood system. Savvy operators, they played studio against studio, staking their fortunes on pictures that served commerce without wholly abandoning art.

Among Mr. Pollack’s survivors are daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, and his wife, Claire Griswold, who was once among his acting students. The couple married in 1958, while Mr. Pollack was serving a two-year hitch in the Army. Their only son, Steven, died at age 34 in a 1993 plane crash in Santa Monica, Calif.

In his later years, Mr. Pollack appeared to relish his role as elder statesman. At various times he was executive director of the Actors Studio West, chairman of American Cinematheque and an advocate for artists’ rights.

[From the New York Times]

Yahoo Movies noted that Sydney Pollack had the reputation as being the very best director for actors to work with. Whenever you’d see him interviewed, you could tell he was a genuinely kind, thoughtful person. He always seemed very deliberate and thoughtful whenever he spoke, and emanated a kindness you don’t often see. Though his films certainly weren’t stylized, most of them were very solid. Our thoughts are with Pollack’s family.

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10 Responses to “Sydney Pollack dies of cancer at age 73”

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  1. geronimo says:

    This is really sad, and so quick – only diagnosed 9 months ago. A very talented actor and director with a great, diverse legacy, and, by all accounts, a genuinely warm and much loved guy, professionally and personally.

    Sympathy and condolances to his family and friends.

  2. vdantev says:

    En Pace Requiesat. What a loss of talent, intellect and energy. 😥

  3. Kolby says:

    I just watched Tootsie again the other night – Pollack was a great director, he seemed to get so much out of his actors.

  4. Syko says:

    That’s a shame. I didn’t know much about him, other than the movies he directed (and acted in – remember his bit part in Tootsie?), but the fact that you never heard bad stuff about him means something in Hollywood. Condolences to the family and all his friends.

  5. Nancy says:

    I am SO sorry .. much too young .. sorry I never got to meet him .. work w/him .. He was ONE of a kind .. could do anything and anything he did . he did WELL .. he will be missed by all who knew him and those of us who did NOT .. but his wonderful creations shall keep him alive forever ..

    Rest in Peace, Sydney . and know you were loved by all ..


  6. anon69 says:

    So sad-
    RIP Mr. Pollock. You will be missed.

  7. Devilgirl says:

    Tragic. R.I.P!

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