Trained for the arts at Juilliard, Neighborhood Playhouse, and the Actor's Studio, Mark Rydell was a busy actor and musician throughout the 1950s. During this decade he played Jeff Baker, first husband of Penny Hughes (Rosemary Prinz), on the CBS TV soap opera Days of Our Lives; he abruptly left the show by means of a "fatal accident" in 1959. His movie acting debut was in the 1956 J.D. melodrama Crime in the Streets. In the early '60s, Rydell established himself as a dependable series-TV director. His first film directorial assignment was 1968's The Fox; 13 years later, he garnered an Oscar nomination for his direction of On Golden Pond (1981). In 1973, Rydell made a surprise return to acting at the request of his old friend Robert Altman, portraying a sadistic gangster boss in Altman's The Long Goodbye; he has since essayed supporting roles in Punchline (1988) and Havana (1989), the latter directed by another former actor, Sidney Pollack. In partnership with Pollack, Mark Rydell formed Sanford Productions in the mid-'80s.