Director, producer, and actor Sydney Pollack passed away yesterday at his home in Los Angeles at age 73.
His long career began in the late 1950s as an actor and acting teacher of such notable thespians as Robert Duvall, Rip Torn, and Brenda Vaccaro. He quickly took a spot behind the camera for acclaimed films such as "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," "Jeremiah Johnson," "Three Days of the Condor," "Tootsie," and his only Oscar-winner "Out of Africa."
His films were notable almost equally for their political content, their commercial viability, and their overall artistic quality. He eventually hit a slump of sorts with "Sabrina" and "Random Hearts," though "The Interpreter" and his final film (and only documentary) "Sketches of Frank Gehry" were more favorably received.
During that aforementioned slump in the 90s and early 00s, he focused more of his time and energy on acting and producing. He appeared in such films as "Changing Lanes," Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," "Michael Clayton," and unfortunately, his final acting role, "Made of Honor." He formed Mirage Enterprises with Anthony Minghella, who passed away himself only two months ago, and produced a great number of films such as "Leatherheads," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," and "Michael Clayton."
Variety has a fairly extensive obituary for the man who George Clooney calls "a class act" who made "the world a little better, movies a little better, and even dinner a little better." Rest in peace, Mr. Pollack. Even though you regularly played morally questionable executives, you still seemed like a good guy.
Update: If that Variety article isn't long enough for you, The New York Times has a great obituary, too.