Michael J Pollard Remembered as ‘Unforgettable’ and ‘One-of-a-Kind’ Character Actor

“Farewell to the great Michael J Pollard, for whom the phrase character actor may as well have been invented. And what a character,” director Edgar Wright says

Michael J. Pollard
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Michael J. Pollard was an actor for whom the term “character actor” may as well have been invented, director Edgar Wright said of Pollard, who died Thursday of cardiac arrest.

Hollywood remembered Pollard for his breakout role as C.W. Moss in “Bonnie and Clyde,” in one of the defining films of New Hollywood. But many more on Twitter and on the internet pointed to how the actor brought his “gnomelike” face and a distinctive knack for playing oddballs and half-witted rubes, as seen in his attempt to get out of a parking space in “Bonnie and Clyde.”

“Farewell to the great Michael J Pollard, for whom the phrase character actor may as well have been invented. And what a character,” Wright said in a tweet. “Unforgettable (and Oscar nominated) as CW Moss in Bonnie & Clyde and a welcome presence in so many movies that you can list below. He will be missed.”

“Michael J. Pollard was one of a kind. Made every film he was in better. You sat up and took notice,” Larry Karaszewski, the producer of “Dolemite Is My Name,” said on Twitter. “I met him once on the street in Beverly Hills and tried to pay him a compliment. He growled at me. I mean – literally growled at me. It was a perfect moment.”

Pollard began as a journeyman TV actor across shows like “Gunsmoke,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Lucy Show” and “Lost in Space.” But after being Oscar-nominated for “Bonnie and Clyde,” he landed leading roles and other high profile film supporting roles in movies like “Dirty Little Billy” as Billy the Kid or in movies like “Hannibal Brooks,” “Scrooged,” “Melvin and Howard,” “Roxeanne” and more. He also appeared in the original production of “Bye Bye Birdie” on Broadway opposite Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera.

More recently, Pollard joined the cast of Rob Zombie’s cult horror film from 2003 “House of 1000 Corpses.” Zombie was the first to report the news on Friday and was astonished to learn just how many people in the film have died since its release.

“We have lost another member of our ‘House of 1000 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,” Zombie said. “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.”

But Pollard was also a champion for the new wave of Hollywood filmmaking, with one of the earliest being Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde.” The film was initially criticized for being too violent and Pollard strongly objected to that.

“That’s dopey, man,” he told Roger Ebert in 1969. “Everybody’s violent. They’re criticizing themselves. Everybody will realize that in a year or so and start on something else. I don’t know. Hey, maybe they’ll start on humor in movies. Too much humor in movies. Children laughing too much.”

See more of Hollywood’s reactions to Pollard’s death below.