2-Min Bio: Fugitive Filmmaker Roman Polanski

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Pascal Le Segretain / Getty

Roman Polanski, 2009

Fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski's onscreen dramas are rivaled only by his private ones. The latest plot twist came Sept. 26, when the director of Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist touched down at Zurich airport to find police waiting to arrest him in connection with charges of a 1977 sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl. Polanski, 76, was arriving in Switzerland to collect a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

Fast Facts:
• Born in Paris on Aug. 18, 1933, to Polish-Jewish parents. When he was 3, Polanski's family returned to Poland, settling in Krakow.

• Escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto as a child after the Nazi invasion and hid in the countryside during World War II. His mother died in Auschwitz, but his father survived the Mauthausen concentration camp, and they were reunited after the war.

• As a teenager, acted in children's radio programs and local theater in Krakow.

• In 1954, entered the directing program at the renowned Lodz Film School in Poland. As a student, Polanski wrote and directed several short films; Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958) won five international film awards.

• In 1959, married the actress Barbara Lass. The couple divorced in 1962.

• In 1962, made his feature-film debut with Knife in the Water, a psychological thriller about a couple who invite a hitchhiker aboard their yacht. It won the Venice Film Festival International Critics Award of 1962 and was nominated for a 1964 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

• In 1965, made his first English-language film, Repulsion, featuring Catherine Deneuve as a psychotic young woman who fantasizes about rape. It won the Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

• Directed and starred in The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). The following year, Polanski married his co-star, the American actress Sharon Tate.

• After moving to Hollywood, he made his first U.S. feature, Rosemary's Baby (1968), a now classic horror film adapted from Ira Levin's best-selling novel about a woman who discovers she has had a demonic child.

• Was filming in London in 1969 when Tate, who was eight months pregnant, and four others were found brutally murdered in the couple's Los Angeles home by members of the Charles Manson cult.

• Polanski's Chinatown (1974), starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston, garnered 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won for screenwriting.

• In 1977, was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl he had photographed at Nicholson's home. Polanski pleaded guilty to one of six charges: unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Released after 42 days in prison for psychological evaluation, he fled to France in 1978.

• Married actress Emmanuelle Seigner in 1989. They have two children.

• Was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1998.

• In 2002, Polanski made the Holocaust drama The Pianist, starring Adrien Brody. The first film he had shot in Poland since Knife in the Water, it won the Cannes Film Festival's top honor, the Palme d'Or, in 2002, and the Academy Award for directing in 2003. Polanski did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony because he faced arrest upon setting foot in the U.S.

• In 2005, won a libel case against Vanity Fair over a 2002 article that claimed he had tried to seduce a woman on the way to Sharon Tate's funeral.

• Reportedly speaks Polish, English, French, Italian and Russian.

Quotes By:
•"I don't think I would let myself be intimidated or overcome by anybody. I think I could have prevented it."
— On his "tremendous feeling of guilt" for being in London instead of at home when Sharon Tate was murdered. Playboy, December 1971

• "Of course. Haven't you noticed? But I do have some good qualities."
— Responding to the question, "Are you a megalomaniac?" Playboy, December 1971

• "I am widely renowned, I know, as an evil, profligate dwarf."
— Poking fun at his reputation and his 5-ft., 5-in. height in his autobiography, Roman, 1984

• "There was no plot against me. There was no setup. It was all my fault. I think that my wrongdoing was much greater than Bill Clinton's."
— On having sex with a 13-year-old in 1977. Esquire, December 1999

Quotes About:
• "Looking back, there can be no question that he did something awful. It was a terrible thing to do to a young girl. But it was also 25 years ago — 26 years next month. And, honestly, the publicity surrounding it was so traumatic that what he did to me seemed to pale in comparison ... I don't really have any hard feelings toward him, or any sympathy, either."
— Samantha Geimer, the young woman Polanski had sex with in 1977. Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, Feb. 23, 2003

• "He knows what he wants, he's a perfectionist in everything from the word go."
— Timothy Burrill, an executive producer of Polanski's 2005 film Oliver Twist. The Guardian, Oct. 2, 2005

•"I like the man ... He always struck me as a very genuine sort of guy, a very courteous and a very old-fashioned person."
— Geoff Andrew, the National Film Theatre's programmer, who has met and interviewed Polanski many times. The Guardian, July 15, 2005