Bonnie And Clyde actor Michael J Pollard dies at 80 after suffering a cardiac arrest
- Pollard received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Bonnie And Clyde
- The film would revolutionize American cinema of the ’60s and ’70s
- He originated a role in the 1960 production of Bye Bye Birdie and appeared in a 1963 Disney film before his big break
- Pollard had a rare lead role in 1972’s Dirty Little Billy as Billy the Kid
- Later films included Melvin And Howard, Roxanne, Scrooged and his Warren Beatty reunion in 1990’s Dick Tracy
Actor Michael J Pollard died on Wednesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 80.
The actor suffered a cardiac arrest, his friend Dawn Walker told The Hollywood Reporter.
The star was best known for his role in the 1967 gangster–romance movie Bonnie And Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
Film icon: Michael J. Pollard, who helped define the 1960s with his role in Bonnie And Clyde, died Wednesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 80; seen in 2008
The cast: With, from left, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway in the 1967 movie Connie And Clyde
He also popped up on the TV series Lost in Space and Star Trek and appeared in the films Roxanne, Scrooged, Tango & Cash, Melvin And Howard and The Woods.
Director Rob Zombie took to Facebook for a tribute to the actor who worked with him on 2003’s House Of 1000 Corpses.
‘We have lost another member of our House of 1,000 Corpses family. I woke up to the news that Michael J. Pollard had died. I have always loved his work and his truly unique on screen presence,’ wrote Zombie.
‘He was one of the first actors I knew I had to work with as soon as I got my first film off the ground. He will be missed. I can’t believe all three of my friends in this picture are now gone.’
The actor and the beauty: With bombshell Dunaway. The movie was directed by Arthur Penn
Saluting a legend: Director Rob Zombie took to Facebook for a tribute to the actor who worked with him on 2003’s House Of 1000 Corpses
Though he appeared in an impressively diverse array of films and television shows, Pollard is most identified by his role in Bonnie And Clyde, in which he played the impish getaway man C. W. Moss.
The role was a composite of real-life gangsters W.D. Jones and Henry Methvin, and the role earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
He was nominated in the same category as his co-star Gene Hackman, while Beatty and Faye Dunaway were both nominated in the lead categories.
The film ultimately earned two Academy Awards, for Estelle Parsons’ supporting role and Best Cinematography.
Another good one: Here the star is in Little Fauss And Big Halsy with Robert Redford, one of Rob Zombie’s favorite examples of his acting
Pollard was cast in the film after he wowed star and producer Warren Beatty with his improvisational skills after they appeared together on the 1959 TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
In Bonny And Clyde he played a gas attendant who was seduced by the title characters and joined them in their spree of bank robberies and murders.
The film featured a revolutionary interplay of violence, romance and humor which was highly influential on subsequent films that would come to define American cinema in the ’60s and ’70s.
Though Bonnie And Clyde would stun many critics, the film also elicited brutal pans from some, including the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, who called the movie a ‘cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.’
Part of the film’s advertising hinged on Newsweek’s Joe Morgenstern, who initially criticized the film as a ‘squalid shoot-’em-up for the moron trade,’ before seeing it a second time and publishing a revised review in which he praised it.
Polarized reviews: Bonnie And Clyde divided critics, even as it became a classic of American cinema
Pollard was born on May 30, 1939 in Passaic, New Jersey.
He began his acting career early with high school roles, before graduating to the Actors Studio, where he was a scene partner with his fellow student Marilyn Monroe.
He established himself as a name on Broadway, where he appeared with his future co-star Beatty in 1959’s Loss Of Roses. He also originated the role of Hugo Peabody a year later in Bye Bye Birdie.
The actor was then groomed by Walt Disney to become a regular star of family-friendly fare, but his only appearance for Disney was in 1963’s Summer Magic.
In addition to Bonnie And Clyde, Pollard starred in other films associated with the counterculture, including 1966’s biker film The Wild Angels.
Prehistory: Prior to landing his Bonnie And Clyde role, he appeared in a Disney’s Summer Magic (1963) and the counterculture biker film The Wild Angels (1966); still from Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
Top billing: The actor often shone in significant supporting roles, but he had a rare lead role in 1972’s Dirty Little Billy, in which he played another famous outlaw, Billy the Kid
The actor often shone in significant supporting roles, but he had a rare lead role in 1972’s Dirty Little Billy, in which he played another famous outlaw, Billy the Kid.
His most high profile film appearances in the 1980s and ’90s were in the late Jonathan Demme’s Melvin And Howard (1980), the Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah film Roxanne (1987) and the Bill Murray Christmas comedy Scrooged (1988).
He would reunite with his old pal Warren Beatty on 1990s Dick Tracy, which Beatty directed and starred in.
Rising high: Among his most high-profile 1980s films was his role with Jason Robards and Mary Steenburgen in Melvin And Howard (1980)
Christmas cult classic: He was also featured in the Bill Murray-starring Christmas comedy Scrooged (1988)
Pollard would also have a surprising influence on a similarly named Hollywood star: Michael J. Fox.
Fox confessed in his 2002 memoir Lucky Man that he adopted Pollard’s middle initial as his own after he found there was already a Michael Fox in the Screen Actors Guild.
‘I remembered one of my favorite character actors, Michael J. Pollard, the guileless accomplice in Bonnie And Clyde,” the Back To The Future star wrote.
‘I stuck in the J, which I sometimes tell people stands for either Jenuine, or Jenius, and resubmitted my forms.’
Wide influence: Pollard was the inspiration for Michael J. Fox’s middle initial, and he provided the title for Traffic’s 1971 song The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys; publicity still from Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
Pollard also had a small connection to the world of 1970s rock music.
He was friendly with the members of the English rock group Traffic, and during a lyric-writing session he penned the line, ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,’ which became an extended track on the group’s eponymous 1971 album.
Pollard is survived by his daughter Holly from his first marriage to actress Beth Howland and his son Axel from his second marriage to Annie Tolstoy. Both unions ended in divorce.
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