Photo of Roman Polanski Roman Polanski

Controversial director Roman Polanski was born Aug. 18, 1933, in Paris. His parents returned to their native Poland shortly before World War II broke out and were taken to concentration camps. Polanski was lucky enough to escape and survive, and he grew up watching movies.

Starting out as an actor, Polanski quickly gained international recognition as a director with Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966). He went to Hollywood in 1968 and made the thriller Rosemary's Baby. After the 1969 murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, Polanski left the United States, returning in 1974 with Chinatown, which earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Fleeing America again -- this time in the wake of a statutory rape conviction -- Polanski continued to make memorable films, including Tess, Frantic, Death and the Maiden and The Pianist (2002), for which he won a Best Director Oscar.

Roman Polanski in Tess


1979 PG

In a star-making performance, Nastassja Kinski plays the title character, an impoverished country girl sent to live with distant relatives at their palatial estate -- where the family's suave son seduces, impregnates and abandons her.

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