Pakula's compassionate life ended abruptly Nov. 19 on a Long Island highway, when police believe a seven-foot metal pipe fell off another vehicle and slammed through his windshield, killing the 70-year-old Bronx, N.Y.-born director. His career was marked less by personal fame than by the famous performances he coaxed out of stars. Three actors won Oscars under his direction: Jane Fonda (in Klute, 1971), Jason Robards (All the President's Men, 1976) and Meryl Streep (Sophie's Choice, 1982). "Moments like this are incomprehensible," says Robert Redford. "He was a fine and sensitive mind."
The Yale-educated Pakula, whose first wife was actress Hope Lange (they divorced in 1969), got his start as an assistant in the Warner Bros, cartoon department in 1949, later producing such films as To Kill a Mockingbird. "He brought the Harper Lee book to me to read, and I sensed it would be the role of my life," says Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for the film.
But to Pakula's five stepchildren (he fathered none of his own) from his two marriages, he was not just a screen visionary. Says Boorstin: "He could hug like nobody else."
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