Obituary: Sydney Pollock (1934-2008)
This evening it was announced that Hollywood maverick Sydney Pollack died from cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades. At 73, he is survived by his wife of 50 years, Claire Griswold, and daughters, Rachel and Rebecca. Steven, Pollock’s son, died 1993 in an airplane crash. Pollock served on the boards of KCET, public broadcasting of Los Angeles, and the Motion Picture Television Fund. He was also a founding member of the Sundance Institute and the Chairman Emeritus of the American Cinematheque.
Working around the camera as a film director, producer, and actor over the past 30 years, he has earned 46 Academy Award nominations. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Mirage Enterprises which also produced his films. His directorial resume includes Tootsie (1982), a comedy where Dustin Hoffman disguises as a woman to get acting gigs, Out of Africa (1985 – winning the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards) a romantic drama with Meryl Streep opposite Robert Redford, Sabrina (1995), a remake of the 1954 rom-com staring Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear, and the documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) about the fanciful architect’s working method.
As an actor, he has delivered thoughtful performances usually playing very knowing and cynical men who wield great power. He shined in films like his own Tootsie, Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives (1992), Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Roger Michell’s Changing Lanes (2002) and Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton. Many of them he had produced. He also played Warren Feldman in the HBO series The Sopranos.
Sydney Pollock in “Tootsie”
Pollock died in the middle of his production The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry, which is based on the excellent Bernhard Schlink novel (read by me) about a young man (David Kross, Adam and Eva, 2003) who discovers his past lover (Kate Winslet, Little Children, 2006), a thirtyish woman when he was 15 years old, is linked with Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.
Pollock once reflected about his work by saying, “I don’t value a film I’ve enjoyed making. If it’s good, it’s damned hard work.”
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