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Sydney Pollack will be missed by industry colleagues and audiences, after a wonderful life and remarkable career as director, actor and producer. Andrew L. Urban farewells a good man.

Pollack’s last role was in Made of Honour, but he will be better remembered for his performances in films like Husbands and Wives, The Player and Tootsie, or producing films like Sliding Doors, Sense and Sensibility, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Quiet American, and directing films like The Firm, Out of Africa and The Way We Were.

With the last film he directed, Sketches of Frank Gehry, Pollack became a documentarian, profiling the iconic architect with camera and genuine curiosity in hand.

"a European sensibility"

But as George Clooney says of him, “Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better.” He was no doubt referring to Pollack as a dinner guest, but Pollack also liked cooking – as he revealed during an interview with this writer on an Australian visit in 1999. Whether at a distance (like at a press conference) or close up (like across a coffee table) Sydney Pollack exudes what I'd call a European sensibility, combining intelligence, humour and worldliness with a warmth of personality that transcends the natural bonhomie of Americans.

Pollack was married only once, but it lasted 50 years.

Although he was a multi nominee and winner of a Best Director / Best Picture Oscar (Out of Africa), Pollack’s real legacy is more to do with the set of values he seemed to stand for in everything he did.

Pollack was diagnosed with cancer in mid 2007 and died at his home in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Claire, two daughters, his brother and six grandchildren.

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
The Interpreter (2005)
Random Hearts (1999)
Sabrina (1995)
The Firm (1993)
Havana (1990/I)
Out of Africa (1985)
Tootsie (1982)
Absence of Malice (1981)
The Electric Horseman (1979)
Bobby Deerfield (1977)
aka Heaven Has No Favorites (Australia)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
The Yakuza (1974)
The Way We Were (1973)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Castle Keep (1969)
The Swimmer (1968)
The Scalphunters (1968)
This Property Is Condemned (1966)
The Slender Thread (1965)

Published May 28, 2008

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Sydney Pollack

Born Indiana, US, July 1, 1934
Died Los Angeles, May 26, 2008 aged 73


...The Interpreter

...with Anthony Minghella

...with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford

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