Pollack's works earned him several Academy Award nominations and "Out of Africa" won him a directorial Oscar in 1985. His first effort as a director was "The Slender Thread," starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft, in 1965.
Pollack was born in Lafayette, Ind., to parents who were first-generation Russian-Americans who met at Purdue University, The New York Times said. He was reared in South Bend where he graduated from high school.
He studied acting for two years at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York under Sanford Meisner. He appeared in roles on television and Broadway but was encouraged by Burt Lancaster to concentrate on directing, the Times reported.
Pollack is survived by his wife of 50 years, Claire Griswold, and two daughters. His son Steven died at age 34 in a 1993 plane crash.
"Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better," actor George Clooney, who worked with Pollack on "Michael Clayton" and "Leatherheads," said in a statement to People.com. "A tip of the hat to a class act. He'll be missed terribly."