Michael J. Pollard, whose long list of acting credits stretches back to the late 1950s but likely will is best remembered for his Oscar-nominated, star-making turn as the dimwitted but lovable sidekick C.W. Moss in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, has died. He was 80.
His death was announced on Facebook today by filmmaker Rob Zombie, who directed Pollard in 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses. A New York Times obituary cites Pollard’s friend Dawn Walker, who says the actor died Thursday of cardiac arrest at a Los Angeles hospital.
“Another member of our House of 1000 Corpses family has left us,” Zombie wrote. “The great Michael J Pollard has died. I have been a huge fan of Michael since I first saw him on the Star Trek “Miri”. He was amazing in everything from Bonnie and Clyde to Little Fauss and Big Halsy from Dirty Little Billy to The Four of the Apocalypse. 20 years ago he was one of the first actors I casted in 1000 Corpses. He was a hoot and will be missed.”
Pollard earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nom for his performance in the landmark Arthur Penn-directed Bonnie and Clyde, in which Pollard co-starred with Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons. Hackman was also nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, but both lost to George Kennedy for his performance in Cool Hand Luke.
Born in Passaic, NJ, and as a young man studying at Actors Studio in New York, the short-statured, babyfaced Pollard already was familiar to observant TV watchers by the time Bonnie and Clyde came along. He’d made many guest appearances on such series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (as the cousin of Bob Denver’s Maynard G. Krebs), Route 66, The Lucy Show, Gunsmoke, Lost in Space, the fan-favorite Star Trek episode “Miri” (he played Jahn), Five Fingers and The Andy Griffith Show (as the extremely awkward cousin of Don Knotts’ Barney Fife). Pollard had small roles in such films such as Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man and Disney’s Summer Magic, with Hayley Mills.
On stage, Pollard created the role of Hugo Peabody in the Tony-winning 1960 original production of Bye Bye Birdie and in 1963 was cast as Marvin in Carl Reiner’s Enter Laughing (he later reprised the role of Marvin in the 1967 film version).
But his rise to international fame came with Bonnie and Clyde, which made him so famous that there was a 1968 joke campaign and novelty song fake-nominating him for president.
Subsequent films included a starring role opposite Robert Redford in 1970’s Little Fauss and Big Halsy (he played the former), 1972’s Billy the Kid biopic Dirty Little Billy and a supporting role in Melvin and Howard (1980).
Other post-Bonnie and Clyde career highlights include 1987’s Roxanne, starring Steve Martin; 1988’s Scrooged, starring Bill Murray; 1990’s Dick Tracy, reteaming with Beatty; and Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. His last listed credit is 2012’s The Woods, with two projects listed as in production.
According to Pollard’s official Facebook page, he was married to actress Beth Howland from 1961-69 (she died in 2015). They had a daughter, Holly Howland; the actor also is survived by a son from a different marriage, Axel Emmett.
Angela Cartwright, who starred in Lost in Space, and other posted their condolences on social media:
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Another member of our House of 1000 Corpses family has left us. The great Michael J Pollard has died. I have been a huge fan of Micheal since I first saw him on the Star Trek "Miri" . He was amazing in everything from Bonnie and Clyde to Little Fauss and Big Halsy from Dirty Little Billy to The Four of the Apocalypse. 20 years ago he was one of the first actors I casted in 1000 Corpses. He was a hoot and will be missed. #ripmichealjpollard #houseof1000corpses #robzombie #bonnieandclyde #startrek