The Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack whose films include Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Way We Were and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, died this afternoon in his Los Angeles home. The cause was cancer.

Pollack grew up in Indiana and headed to New York City when he was 17, joining The Neighborhood Playhouse and studying acting under Sanford Meisner. He acted, but, according to the NY Times obituary, Burt Lancaster told him to direct, so he did, getting his start by directing television.

Variety calls him a "prolific director, producer and actor whose films tackled a variety of social issues while garnering critical acclaim and earning boffo numbers at the box office." Besides directions (he earned an Oscar for Out of Africa), he also produced (his production company was behind Sense & Sensibility and the just-premiered HBO movie Recount) and acted--besides producing Michael Clayton, Pollack played the title character's boss; more recently, he played Patrick Dempsey's father in Made of Honor.

Below is a video of Pollack in Michael Clayton, while the video at top is from Tootsie, with Pollack as the agent of a desperate actor named Michael Dorsey who decides he needs to shake things up to get work.

George Clooney issued a statement saying, "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. He'll be missed terribly."