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March 02, 1990 - Image 80

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 1990

THE JEWISH NEWS

Kevin Pollak Plans Trip
To Mark Ridley's Castle

STEVE HARTZ

Special to The Jewish News

N

ext fall, he will star
in Oscar-winning di-
rector Barry (Rain
Man) Levinson's latest film,
Avalon. However, Detroiters
can see actor/comedian
Kevin Pollak long before
that as he headlines Mark
Ridley's Comedy Castle May
22-26.
Pollak, 32, cut his comedy
teeth as a child.
"I guess the sight of this
small, Jewish precocious 10-
year-old kid lip- syncing a
Bill Cosby comedy routine
was enough to win accolades
and awards," he said.
Pollak grew up in San
Jose, Calif., acted in high
school shows and then went
on to work local nightclubs
as a stand-up comedian.
A few years later, no
longer lip- syncing Bill
Cosby, Pollak discovered the
art of impressions.
"I didn't actually learn
and do impressions until I
was 16, and they all came
rather naturally," he said.
"Columbo was the first one.
My mom and I were sitting
and watching a Saturday
Night Mystery Movie, and
Columbo came on. During a
commercial break, I went
over and grabbed a black felt
pen and came back toward
her doing Columbo, 'Excuse
me ma'am, geeze I hate to
bother you, can I ask you
what's for dinner?' "
Two years later, he dressed
up as Columbo to attend a
Rich Little concert. During
the concert, Pollak stood up
and starting doing his
Columbo shtick.
"I just wanted to show
Rich Little the impression,
hoping he would say, 'Hey,
kid, that's good; now take
your seat.' So, when he ask-
ed me on stage, it was mind
boggling and incredible."
Pollak perfected his
Columbo impression and a
few years later, he called
Johnny Carson — preten-
ding to be Peter Falk.
"I got all the way through
to his personal secretary,
and that's about four or five
chains of command," Pollak
said. "Each one of them
believed I was Peter Falk.
His personal secretary said,
`I'm very sorry, Mr. Falk.
Johnny is in a big meeting
right now, and I'm sure he'll
be sorry he missed your call.
I know he loves it when you
call. He can call you back;

Kevin Pollak:
Comic and actor.

can you give me a number
where you can be reached?'
"I really couldn't give her
a phone number; I was in
San Jose. So, I said in Falk's
voice, 'Well, it's just about
this kid I saw performing.
And I thought maybe that
Johnny should take a look at
him . . "
Pollak has since been on
Carson's "Tonight Show"
six times.
Prior to performing on
Carson, Pollak traveled a
long comedic road. In the
late 1970s, he headed an
hour north of his hometown
to San Francisco and enter-
tained and hung out with
comedians Dana (Saturday
Night Live)Carvey and
Robin Williams. By 1982,
Pollak had developed a
following as a headline com-
edian and started writing and
acting for an ABC-affiliate
television show "Front Row
Video." He was nominated
for a couple local Emmy
awards.
Six years ago, Pollak mov-
ed again. This time his des-
tination was Los Angeles,
where he continued headlin-
ing and pursued acting and
writing.
"I did the Mery Griffin
show a few times, and that's
when a talent agent spotted
me and signed me." he said.
After appearing on televi-
sion shows like "Who's the
Boss?" and the soap opera
"One Life to Live," Pollak
signed a deal with film
makers Ron Howard and
George Lucas and appeared
in their movie, Willow.
"The opportunity to work
with Ron Howard and
George Lucas on a daily
basis was a dream come
true," Pollak said.
play Rool, the leader of a
tribe of nine-inch tall men."
A couple years later,
Pollak did his first network
series, "Coming of Age," a

short-lived series. Ironically
for Pollak, he was acting on
the same studio lot as Peter
Falk, who was starring in
the new Columbo series.
"So here was this strange
`coming of age' for myself,"
Pollak said. "At 16, I dream-
ed of someday being on a TV
series. And the Columbo im-
pression throughout the
years probably opened more
doors. Falk, himself, loved
the impression and highly
approved of it."
One day, Pollak saw Falk
coming out of his Winnebago
on the lot.
"I casually burst out of my
dressing room door and said,
`Peter, Kevin Pollak. I'm do-
ing this series on the lot. I
guess I'll be seeing a lot of
you.' While Falk replied,
`Yeah, yeah. I saw your
name on the door yesterday.
I said, hey that kid's on the
lot. That's beautiful. Listen,
kid, can you get me a cup of
coffee?'
"Now, I do a thing in my
act called 'Star Trek V: In
Search of Cash,' " Pollak
said. "I put many celebrities
into the bodies of the 'Star
Trek' cast. I'll be William
Shatner doing Captain Kirk,
but everyone else is jux-
taposed — Dudley Moore as
Scotty, Jack Nicholson as
Bones, Christopher Lloyd's
Jim Ignitowski as Spock,
and Woody Allen as Sulu."
Another obscure impres-
sion is Pollak's Dwight D.
Eisenhower. Pollak was the
voice of Eisenhower in the
movie The Right Stuff and
then in the film My Science
Project. "I've done
Eisenhower in more movies
than he's done himself."
Pollak, who was a baby
when President Eisenhower
was in office, learned to
impersonate him by listen-
ing to tapes of the late presi-
dent's speeches.
Soon, Pollak was asked to
appear in a Miller Lite
commericial — as Bob
Eucker's twin.
"It took four hours to put
on this prosthetic make-up
so I'd look like Eucker. And
Eucker would come in every
half hour as they were ap-
plying the make-up and tell
me how ugly I looked,"
Pollak said. "The more I
started to look like him, the
more grief he gave me about
how ugly I was. So, at the
end of the six-hour shoot, he
came in to say goodbye, and I
said, 'You know something,
Bob, I just realized I get to
take this stuff off.' "



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