Michael J. Pollard, best known for his supporting role in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde died in a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.
Pollard’s friend Dawn Walker told the Hollywood Reporter that Pollard had a heart attack and was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
In Bonnie and Clyde, which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the title roles, Pollard played the gas station attendant whom the gangster couple lures into a life of crime.
He achieved something of cult actor status over many years of mostly supporting roles following his big break.
He appeared in Lost in Space and Star Trek in the 1960s, played Billy the Kid in Dirty Little Billy in 1972, and appeared in Melvin and Howard (1980), Roxanne (1987), Scrooged (1988), Tango and Cash (1989) and Dick Tracy (1990) — in which he reunited with Beatty.
Man of influence
In the 1970s, Pollard struck up a friendship with the British rock band Traffic. A note he scribbled in a notebook, “The low spark of high-heeled boys,” while brainstorming to make a film featuring the band, later became the basis for a 12-minute song by the band.
Michael J. Fox says he took Pollard’s middle “J” as his own middle initial when he found out 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,” Fox wrote in his 2002 autobiography, Lucky Man: A Memoir. “I stuck in the J, which I sometimes tell people stands for either Jenuine, or Jenius, and resubmitted my forms.”
“He was quite a character without knowing it,” Alison Martino, who first reported Pollard’s death, wrote on her Facebook page. “He walked EVERYWHERE and never repeated his stories because he had so many. The only thing he repeated was his love for Turner Classic Movies. And you could never call him after 7:30 because he’d be watching Jeopardy.”
Award nominations and honors
Pollard was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Bonnie and Clyde. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award for most promising newcomer.
He was married to actress Beth Howland (Vera on Alice) until they divorced in 1969. He remarried Annie Tolstoy and they also divorced.
He is survived by his son Alex and his daughter Holly.