Who Was Michael J. Pollard?
Do you remember the guy in that classic motorcycle movie Little Fauss and Big Halsy? How about the academy award-nominated co-star of Bonnie and Clyde? Okay, do you remember that episode of Star Trek, the original series, where they go to a planet that is only populated by a few unruly kids? Yes, the oldest kid in the group, that guy. His name was Michael J. Pollard.
Michael John Pollack Jr was born in Passaic, New Jersey. The son of Sonia and Michael Pollack, who were of Polish decent. He went on to study acting at Montclair Academy and the Actor’s Studio along with such noted celebrities as Marilyn Monroe (aka Norma Jean) who was in the same class. Michael changed his name to Michael J. Pollard, most likely for professional reasons, such as to stand out and be more memorable. Also, during the era, it was often deemed better to have a name with a less ethnic sound, such as Pollack.
After his theater studies, he went on to perform in theatre in New York, and small roles in television, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in 1959. His film debut was a minor role in Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man (1962). Then in 1967, he played the role of C.W. Moss in the classic film Bonnie and Clyde, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He had a few more leading roles after that, such as the previously mentioned Little Fauss and Big Halsy.
As a side note: when Michael Fox had to change his name, due to another actor already having the same name. He said Pollard was one of his favorite character actors and that is why he added the “J.” to Michael J. Fox.
Because of his looks, voice, and height Pollard, he was often relegated mostly to supporting roles as a goofy man-child or oddball character. But as most actors know, any work is still working, and he always brought something special to every role. Over the years, Pollard had no shortage of work, with a total of 116 credits to his name on IMDb. This includes guest appearances on some of the most beloved TV shows over the past six decades such as Gunsmoke, Lost in Space, Wings, Blossom, Eerie Indiana, Simon and Simon, The Fall Guy, and more.
He reunited with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Warren Beatty as Bug Bailey in the 1990s Dick Tracy. He also had supporting roles in Roxanne (1987) and the holiday classic Scrooged (1988). His acting career continued until his final days, appearing in films such as “House of 1000 Corpses” (2003) and Remembering Nigel “2009.
Michael J. Pollard died of cardiac arrest on November 20, 2019, in Los Angeles at the age of 80.
May 30, 1939 – November 20, 2019