Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack dies of cancer at age 73

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay who achieved commercial success and critical acclaim with the gender-bending comedy "Tootsie" and the period drama "Out of Africa, has died. He was 73. Pollack died of cancer Monday afternoon at his home in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, surrounded by family, said agent Leslee Dart. He had been diagnosed with cancer about nine months ago, said Dart. Pollack, who often appeared on the screen himself, worked with and gained the respect of Hollywood's best actors, including Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and Robert Redford, in a long career that reached prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. "Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act," actor George Clooney said in a statement issued by his publicist. "He'll be missed terribly," Clooney said.