Michael J. Pollard died yesterday. He was 80 years old. You may not know Pollard but you would recognize his face. Little known fact, he played the part of Maynard G. Krebs‘ cousin AND the part of Barney Fife‘s cousin. My favorite Michael J. Pollard role was his performance as the leader of an all-child planet in the 8th episode of the 1st season of Star Trek. Remember how those kids called the grown-ups “grups”? I loved that.
Anyway, Michael J. Pollard died yesterday. He played a nameless Peter Pan-like boy who lives in the dimension behind all mirrors in “Lost In Space“. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote:
“Michael J. Pollard, an unknown before his fascinating entry in Bonnie and Clyde, brings his squint and grin to the part of Marvin, our hero’s buddy, and steals every scene. There is something about Pollard that is absolutely original and seems to strike audiences as irresistibly funny and deserving of affection. If he works at it and gets a break or two, there will be no stopping him. Really. All he needs is visibility, and people will become addicted.”
In 1970, Pollard had a starring role as Little Fauss in the cult motorcycle racing movie, “Little Fauss and Big Halsy“. In 1972 Pollard starred in “Dirty Little Billy“, a revisionist biography of Billy the Kid at the beginning of his criminal career, set in Coffeyville, Kansas:
“This is no typical, Tinseltown western though. It’s more like The Making of a Sociopath, with Michael J. Pollard starring as displaced, 17-year-old Billy Bonney, in the days leading up to his evolution into the notorious Billy the Kid … this is the perfect role for Pollard. And though a little old to play a teenager (he was 33), he hands us a Billy who’s perpetually victimized by bad luck, until he finally blows a gasket at the very end and sparks his future.”
Pollard’s father supported his wife and Michael Jr. by working 60 hours a week as a bartender at O’Rourke’s Tap Room. Young Pollard came directly off the New Jersey streets to study under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.
What a career and what an amazing actor.
Happy Trails Michael J. Pollard!