Tom Pollock, the former chairman of Universal Pictures and the American Film Institute, died Saturday of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, aged 77.
“We are incredibly saddened by the loss of Tom Pollock,” said NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer in a statement. “He played a critical role in securing our studio’s legacy, and was an extraordinary executive, influential attorney, and a dear friend to so many of us.”
Meyer added: “We will forever feel his impact on our company and within our industry. On behalf of everyone at Universal, we send our deepest condolences to his family and honour his extraordinary accomplishments.”
Pollock, was born and raised in Los Angeles, he graduated from Columbia University where he received a law degree before beginning his career in the entertainment business where he started by working for George Stevens, the founding director of the AFI, in 1968.
Bob Gazzale, president and CEO of AFI, said, “Tom Pollock loved movies — powerfully and passionately. His legacy will show how he devoted his unmatched legal mind to championing great stories, and lucky for all movie lovers, he believed that those stories could both challenge and entertain. We have lost a fierce advocate for the art form, but at AFI his spirit will live on.”
In 1970, he started the entertainment law firm Pollock, Rigrod, and Bloom, where Star Wars creator George Lucas was one of his first clients. Pollock left his firm in 1986 and became executive vice president of MCA Inc. and chairman of its Motion Picture Group, Universal Pictures where he oversaw Jurassic Park and the Back to the Future trilogy.
Pollock then resigned from this position in 1996 and taught in the film studies program at the University of California Santa Barbara. He then became AFI’s chairman of the board in 1996 and remained involved for the rest of his life.