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Director Sydney Pollack dies at 73

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack, who achieved critical and commercial success for his films such as "Out of Africa" and "Tootsie", died in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. (Report: P.Hall)

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Hollywood filmmaker Sydney Pollack, who won a pair of Academy Awards for the epic romance "Out of Africa" and earned praise for his acting stints in films such as "Tootsie" and "Michael Clayton," died on Monday after a battle with cancer, his spokeswoman said. He was 73.


Spokeswoman Leslee Dart said he died at his home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades at about 5 p.m. local time, surrounded by his family.


Pollack was diagnosed with cancer about 10 months ago, she said, but doctors were never able to determine the primary source of the disease.


He had devoted more time to producing and acting in later years, and is currently in theaters playing Patrick Dempsey's serial-dating father in the romantic comedy "Made of Honor."


The tall, curly-haired Indiana native once described his acting stints as "an excuse to spy on other directors."


"Directors are very territorial," he told CNN.com in a 2005 interview. "They're like lions, urinating on every corner of  the stage."


In 2007, Pollack played a prominent supporting role as the head of a powerful law firm and George Clooney's boss in the legal thriller "Michael Clayton," for which he served as a producer and shared a best picture Oscar nomination.


But his biggest triumph came with the 1985 drama, "Out of
Africa." Based on Isak Dinesen's 1937 memoir, the film starred
Meryl Streep as the Danish owner of a coffee plantation in
Kenya and Robert Redford as the American-born adventurer she
falls in love with.


The movie earned 11 Academy Award nominations in all and
seven wins, including Pollack's Oscars for best picture and
director.


Pollack also secured Oscar nominations for directing the
cross-dressing comedy "Tootsie" -- in which he had a memorable
role as star Dustin Hoffman's agent -- and the Depression-era
drama "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"


In one of his more recent roles, Pollack made a guest turn
on the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos" as a former physician
imprisoned for killing his family.


He also had a recurring role the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace"
and movie roles in Robert Altman's "The Player," Robert
Zemeckis' "Death Becomes Her" and Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide
Shut."


Pollack and Redford made their feature acting debuts
together in the 1962 film "War Hunt." The two went on to
collaborate on seven films with Pollack as director, including
"Three Days of the Condor," "The Way We Were" with Barbra
Streisand and "The Electric Horseman" with Jane Fonda.


In the 1980s and '90s, Pollack served as producer on a
string of film projects directed by other filmmakers, including
"Presumed Innocent," "Searching for Bobby Fischer," "Sense and
Sensibility" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley."


After a lengthy hiatus from the director's chair, Pollack
returned in 2005 to helm the U.N.-based thriller "The
Interpreter" starring Nicole Kidman.


The same year, he directed his first and only documentary,
"Sketches of Frank Gehry," about the famed architect.


He is survived by his wife, Claire; two daughters, Rebecca
and Rachel; and six grandchildren. Services will be private,
Dart said.

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