Actor, producer and Academy Award winning motion picture director. He won two Oscars for his work on the 1986 film "Out of Africa." Born in Lafayette, Indiana to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, his father, David Pollack was a professional boxer who had become a pharmacist, while his mother, Rebecca Miller, was a homemaker. While very young, his parents divorced, and his mother, an alcoholic, died when he was 16. He grew up in Indiana, and upon his graduation from High School in 1952, he immediately moved to New York City where he spent the next two years studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He then was drafted into the Army, and after serving two years in the military (1956-1958), returned to New York City where he obtained work teaching acting. In 1958, he would marry one of his students, Claire Griswold, and they would have three children. In 1960, he moved to California to work as a dialogue coach for the movie "The Young Savages" and ended up staying in California. He made his acting debut in "War Hunt" (1962), where he became life-long good friends with fellow actor Robert Redford. During this period, he met Burt Lancaster, who suggested that he try directing. Shortly afterwards, he became a director of television shows, and while producing was his best strength in films, over the years, he would act in 30 films, direct 21 films, and produce over 40 films, many of them award winning and successful movies. His biggest success came with "Out of Africa" (1986) in which he won two Oscars: one for best director and one for best picture. His comedy film, "Tootsie" (1982) was nominated for ten Oscars, and is considered one of his best films, in that he both acted and directed the film. He also produced successful movies with "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), "The Quiet American" (2002) and "Cold Mountain" (2003). In 2000, Pollack received the John Huston Award from the Director's Guild of America, for his defense of artists' rights. Two years later, Pollack was the only director to have two of his movies ranked by the American Film Institute in the top 100 best love movies of all time: "The Way We Were" (1973) and "Out of Africa" (1985), which were ranked as #6 and #13 respectively.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson