Roman Polanski (born August 18, 1933) is a Polish film director and actor.
Roman Polanski was born in Paris as Raimund Liebling to Ryszard Polanski (aka Ryszard Liebling), a Jew, and Bula Polanski (née Katz), a Roman Catholic. In 1937 his family moved back to Poland. His mother died in a concentration camp, but Polanski avoided incarceration there, escaped the Cracow Ghetto and spent the war wandering the countryside of Europe. He was educated at the film school in Lodz, Poland (graduated in 1959).
Several short films made during the study gained considerable recognition. His first major film Knife in the Water (1962) was the first significant Polish film after the war that was not associated with the war theme. It was Polanski's first nomination for the Oscar.
Polanski then made films in Britain; Repulsion, a disturbing tale of madness and alienation, and Cul-de-Sac.
Roman met rising starlet Sharon Tate while filming The Fearless Vampire Killers and during their time together doing the film they began dating. In 1968 Polanski went to Hollywood where he gained reputation with the sophisticated psychological thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968). On 25 January, 1968 he married Sharon in London, England.
On 9 August 1969, an eight months pregnant Sharon and three of her and Roman's friends (coffee heiress Abigail Folger, international hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polanski's friend Wojciech Frykowski, and an unknown boy, Steven Parent) were brutally murdered by Charles Manson's gang. Distraught and heartbroken, Polanski returned to Europe shortly after Tate's funeral.
In 1974 he returned to the USA with the film Chinatown (1974). The film seemed to be the beginning of a new start for Polanski's professional life, as it brought him a nomination for an Academy Award for Directing. However, he became embroiled in a scandal surrounding rape charges involving him and a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer, daughter of an actress. Polanski was initially charged with rape, suspicion of sodomy, child molestation and furnishing dangerous drugs to a minor; however these charges were eventually reduced to statutory rape at the request of the victim's mother. According to reports, his fame gained him the trust of her mother to host the young model at his home for a photo session. Her mother hoped he would help her daughter into show business. After convincing her to get into his hot-tub, the victim alleged he drugged her with quaaludes and alcohol, and then proceeded to have nonconsensual intercourse with her. The sister of the girl heard her reporting the fact of sexual intercourse to her friend over the phone. When her mother reported the incident to the police, he fled the United States but returned later to face the charges. On February 1, 1978, after pleading guilty to the charges, Polanski skipped bail and fled to France.
He received another Academy Award nomination for Tess (1979). During the filming he had a relationship with the young Nastassja Kinski; the relationship failed. Since Tess Polanski has spent his time in France and Poland, and continues to direct movies and theater and act in films. He married actress and model Emmanuelle Seigner in 1989. They have two children: Morgane and Elvis.
Polanski was laureate of the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival on May 26 2002 for The Pianist, later winning the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. He could not attend the awards, held in Hollywood, because he still faces sentencing of up to 50 years in prison if he ever returns to the USA.