Login | Forgot Password? | Join the Community
Sydney Pollack DIRECTOR


Sydney Pollack is one of the few Hollywood figures who excelled both in front of and behind the camera. A true multitalented man, he won two Oscars and four more nominations for his directorial work, but also earned a great reputation as one of the best actors to work with. As well as acting and directing, he found himself involved in film production during his career, which has lasted over forty years.

Pollack was born July 1, 1934 in Lafayette, Indiana to a family of first generation American Jews from Russia. The family moved to South Bend when he was young, and shortly after his parents divorced. When he was only sixteen, his alcoholic mom tragically died. While his father always wanted him to be a dentist, Pollack developed a love for theater while in high school. After graduating, he moved to New York to study acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He went into the army for two years, and then returned to the school to teach acting. Pollack also began appearing a fair number of television shows like “Playhouse 90” (1959), “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1960), and “Have Gun-Will Travel” (1961). Shortly after, he started directing television. His directorial debut was with the series “Shotgun Slade” (1961), and he continued to direct various TV programs, including “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (1962-63), “Ben Casey” (1962-63), and “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre” (1963-65). The latter turned out to be the last show he would direct.

In 1962 Pollack jumped onto the big screen as an actor with a part in the Robert Redford Korean War drama “War Hunt”. He appeared in two more shows, “The New Breed” (1961-62) and “Brenner” (1959-64), and then took a break from his career on screen to focus on directing. His first picture came the next year – the Oscar nominated suspense drama that followed a volunteer for a suicide hotline as he remains on the phone with a caller as she slowly dies from an overdose, titled “The Slender Thread” (1965). Pollack’s following film, “This Property Is Condemned” (1966), marked the first of seven collaborations he would have with old friend and actor Robert Redford. The feature was trailed by “The Scalphunters” (1968), “The Swimmer” (1968), and “Castle Keep” (1969). His next film won him his first Oscar nomination. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”(1969) was focused on a Depression-era dance competition that results in murder, and starred Jane Fonda.

Jeremiah Johnson” (1972), a western drama, came before another hit, a traditional love story pairing Redford and Barbara Streisand called “The Way We Were” (1973). He added producer to his repertoire with his next film, the unpopular Japanese action flick “Yakuza” (1974). Pollack found much more success with his subsequent feature, the suspense thrillerThree Days of the Condor” (1975). He directed and produced a couple more titles, such as “Bobby Deerfield” (1977) and “Absence of Malice” (1981), before coming out with one of his most famed works: “Tootsie” (1982).

Tootsie”, starring Dustin Hoffman as an out of work actor who disguises himself as a woman to boost his career, delighted and entertained audiences, even going on to earn ten Academy Award nominations. In addition, it marked his return to acting, exemplified the performing range of Hoffman, and brought feminist issues out of the closet for all of its viewers to see.

With his next film, Pollack would finally get the Oscar win he had been working for. “Out of Africa” (1985), starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, was an epic romance about a Danish coffee plantation owner in Africa and her love affairs with a hunter. It won both Best Director and Best Picture at the Academy Awards, on top of five other wins and four nods. Unfortunately, he followed up the mega hit with a notorious failure, a “Casablanca” (1942) inspired drama, “Havana” (1990). He found success at the box office with his next feature however, an adaptation of a bestselling John Grisham legal thriller starring Tom Cruise and titled “The Firm” (1993). He directed the comedic “Sabrina” (1995) after, followed by the Harrison Ford drama “Random Hearts” (1999).

Throughout the nineties he made himself busy as more than just a director, as he had many jobs acting and producing. He could be seen in light comedy shows like “Frasier” (1994), as well as dark thrilling pictures like “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999). The director also produced quite a few movies, including “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), “Sliding Doors” (1998), and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999). In the twenty first century he only directed two pictures, the Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn mystery thriller “The Interpreter” (2005) and a documentary on an architect called “Sketches of Frank Gehry” (2005), but he continued in his acting and production endeavors. He appeared in the business drama “Changing Lanes” (2002) with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, guest starred on “Will and Grace” from 2000 to 2006, appeared on “Entourage” (2007) and “The Sopranos” (2007), and was last seen in the George Clooney crime drama “Michael Clayton” (2008) and Patrick Dempsey comedy “Made of Honor” (2008). As for his production career, he worked on many projects like “Birthday Girl” (2001), “Cold Mountain” (2003), “Breaking and Entering” (2006), “Leatherheads” (2008), and most recently, “Margaret” (2011).

Sadly, the filmmaker was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2007. A year later on May 26, 2008, he passed away while in his Los Angeles home, but was surrounded by family. He left behind his wife of fifty years, Claire Griswold, and their three children. However, Pollack also left behind his great memory. He has multiple awards in his name, not limited to a Hollywood Film Award for producing and a Board of the Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.


2011       Margaret

2008       The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  

2008       The Reader 

2008       Recount

2008       Leatherheads

2008       Great Performances 

2008       Made of Honor 

2007       Michael Clayton 

2007       Entourage 

2007       The Sopranos 

2006       American Masters  

2006       Avenue Montaigne 

2006       Breaking and Entering 

2006       Catch a Fire 

2005       Sketches of Frank Gehry

2005       The Interpreter  

2005       Forty Shades of Blue 

2003       In the Name of Love

2003       Cold Mountain  

2002       Changing Lanes 

2002       The Quiet American

2002       Heaven 

2001       Iris 

2001       Birthday Girl 

2001       Blow Dry 

2001       The Majestic  

2001       Fling

2000       Will & Grace 

2000       King of the Hill

2000       Up at the Villa 

1999       The Talented Mr. Ripley  

1999       Random Hearts 

1999       Eyes Wide Shut 

1998       A Civil Action 

1998       Mad About You

1998       Poodle Springs

1998       Sliding Doors

1998       Bronx County

1995       Sabrina 

1995       Sense and Sensibility   

1994       Frasier 

1993       Flesh and Bone

1993       Searching for Bobby Fischer

1993       The Firm 

1993       Fallen Angels 

1992       Husbands and Wives 

1992       Death Becomes Her  

1992       The Player   

1992       A Private Matter

1992       Leaving Normal 

1991       Dead Again

1991       King Ralph 

1990       Havana 

1990       White Palace 

1990       Presumed Innocent

1989       The Fabulous Baker Boys 

1988       Bright Lights, Big City

1986       Nine 1/2 Weeks

1985       Out of Africa

1985       American Masters  

1984       Songwriter

1982       Tootsie  

1981       Absence of Malice

1980       Honeysuckle Rose

1979       The Electric Horseman

1977       Bobby Deerfield

1975       Three Days of the Condor 

1974       The Yakuza

1973       The Way We Were

1972       Jeremiah Johnson

1969       They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

1969       Castle Keep

1968       The Swimmer  

1968       The Scalphunters

1966       This Property Is Condemned

1965       The Slender Thread

1964       Slattery's People 

1964       The Fugitive 

1963       Breaking Point    

1963       Wagon Train  

1963       The Defenders

1963       Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre

1963       Kraft Suspense Theatre    

1963       The Leopard

1962       War Hunt    

1962       The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

1962       Ben Casey 

1962       The Tall Man 

1962       Target: The Corruptors 

1961       Cain's Hundred 

1961       Frontier Circus

1961       Shotgun Slade  

1961       The Asphalt Jungle   

1961       The Deputy 

1961       Have Gun - Will Travel 

1960       Twilight Zone 

1960       Alfred Hitchcock Presents 

1960       The Robert Herridge Theater

1959       Brenner  

1959       The Turn of the Screw

1959       Startime  

1959       Armstrong Circle Theatre 

1959       The United States Steel Hour 

1959       Playhouse 90 

1956       The Kaiser Aluminum Hour  

Matinee Classics - Out of Africa starring Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Shane Rimmer, Malick Bowens, Joseph Thiaka, Stephen Kinyanjui, Michael Gough, Suzanna Hamilton, Rachel Kempson, Graham Crowden, Benny Young, Leslie Phillips, Annabel Maule and Iman
Matinee Classics - Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, John Houseman, Addison Powell, Walter McGinn, Tina Chen, Hank Garrett, Michael Kane, Don McHenry, Michael B. Miller, Jess Osuna, Dino Narizzano, Helen Stenborg, Patrick Gorman and Russell Johnson

Copyright © 2014 Matinee Classics LLC - All Rights Reserved. Developed by: VividConcept.com