Director, producer, pilot Sydney Pollack dies
He died May 26 at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., after a battle with cancer. He was 73.
After becoming frustrated with airline travel, Pollack began chartering aircraft to help him make the demanding and long commutes between Los Angeles and various movie locations. Then he purchased a Lear 25 and committed himself to learning to fly it, quickly earning a type rating for the jet.
“I don’t have other hobbies. I’ve never been on a golf course, I don’t play cards, and I don’t collect art; but I love to fly airplanes,” Pollack told AOPA Pilot during a 1998 interview.
Pollack later moved on to larger jets, continuing to fly them himself and always maintaining professional standards.
“I’m not a professional pilot, and I never will be, but when I work and study with professional pilots, it’s up to me to work as hard as I can to meet their standards. So I take lots of notes at FlightSafety, and I study hard so that I can keep up with these high-time guys. I love to spend time with pilots, real pros who take pride in what they do,” Pollack told AOPA Pilot.
Pollack was so passionate about flying that he often encouraged others in the film business to learn to fly, including Tom Cruise who worked with Pollack in The Firm and went on to earn a pilot certificate.
Pollack’s storied film career included directing 20 films and producing another 40, as well as acting credits in numerous films. He earned many Oscar nominations and won two for Out of Africa, one of seven films he made starring Robert Redford. Pollack’s other big hits included Tootsie and The Way We Were.
Pollack is survived by his wife Claire, two daughters, a brother, and six grandchildren.
May 27, 2008