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Movie director, producer, and actor Sydney Pollack, whose star-packed films included Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Way We Were, Absence of Malice, Three Days of the Condor, and They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, was born to immigrant parents in Lafayette, Indiana on this date in 1934. Pollack learned the directing trade through television work on “Ben Casey,” “The Fugitive,” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” In the course of his career, his films (he directed twenty and produced some forty-four) received forty-eight Academy Award nominations and won eleven times for both directing and producing. He also directed a dozen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances, including Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, and Barbra Streisand. As producer, he was involved with The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Quiet American, Cold Mountain, and Michael Clayton, among numerous other films. He also acted frequently in movies by Woody Allen, Robert Altman, and Stanley Kubrick. “Pollack became the prime example of producer as director, with an extraordinary talent for choosing sympathetic collaborators,” writes The Guardian. “He offered glossy middlebrow entertainment, seldom displaying great originality, and liberalism without causing ripples. He never insulted an audience’s intelligence . . .”

“Stars are like thoroughbreds. Yes, it’s a little more dangerous with them. They are more temperamental. You have to be careful because you can be thrown. But when they do what they do best — whatever it is that’s made them a star — it’s really exciting.” –Sydney Pollack