Fame, Fortune Followed Him West
Newspaper: Houston Chronical
Over the years, a handful of Houston entrepreneurs became famous doing their own TV commercials.
But there has never been a phenomenon quite like Michael Pollack.
With his long and fluffy golden hair, gold chains, smooth voice and swagger, he became a "modern folk hero in Houston," according to a 1984 Houston Post article.
A web site devoted to Pollack's time in Houston calls him "our Elvis."
Pollack mania grew out of his TV ads for Colonial House Apartments, a 1,800-unit complex near the corner of Gulfton and Chimney Rock.
In one TV ad - captured for eternity on YouTube - the Colonial House theme song blares, while tenants kiss, dance and grill poolside, and Pollack declares: "I've created an exciting new lifestyle in beautiful southwest Houston!"
At the end of the spot, a woman springs from the pool, triumphantly holding high a clunky video recorder - free if you sign a lease.
The apartment complex has since taken on a more modest image, but what ever happened to Michael Pollack?
He left town 22 years ago. He tossed his chains and went west.
No longer the Pied Piper of swinging singles, Pollack, 53, is a successful community minded real estate developer based in Mesa, Ariz.
Pollack fans can take heart knowing he hasn't lost flair.
He has longish hair. His office building contains crystal chandeliers, Louis XVI-and-Louis XVII-style furniture and a piano.
Some people would call the decor flamboyant, Pollack said, "but I just call it me."
He owns more than 100 projects, mostly shopping centers, and it helped by his Ivy League-looking son Daniel Pollack.
Pollack "has been pretty much of a legend out here," said Steve Berman, mayor of Gilbert, Ariz.
He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the marching band program of Mesquite High School in Gilbert, said Berman, who noted, "We just built a senior center, and Michael paid a big chunk of it."
Last year, free of charge, Pollack paid his workers to restore a dilapidated building that became a social services center for Chandler.
"No one asked him to do it," Bigos said.
Connected to Pollack's office is his huge private museum of 3-D advertising.
Fresh out of high school in San Jose, Calif., he started developing homes and apartments with his father or on his own. He became wealthy by his early 20s, he said
After moving to Houston in 1980, he redeveloped the Orchard Apartments, which had resembled what he described as "a war zone." Fo his next project, Colonial House, he began flashing his Hollywood moves.
Counter to the conventional wisdom, Pollack didn't own Colonial House. He was hired by the company representing the owners to be a consultant and spokesman.
As a consultant he believed that promoting the complex as a singles mecca made sense, because it contained only one-bedroom units.
According to media reports then, Pollack lived in a super sized Colonial House apartment called "the Dream Suite," which had a colored water fountain a inside a king-size water bed.
Where he really lived
The Dream Suite was real, but Pollack said he never lived there. His home was the Four Leaf Towers and later the Houstonian, he said.
His glamourous stud image was just an act, he maintains, designed to rent apartments.
"I was promoting day and night," Pollack said. "To me, it was a job."
In a 1984 Houston Post profile, Pollack said his commercials tried to evoke a "happening type of feeling."
In that same article, he was asked to name his favorite food. His answer: "Meat."
According to Houston City magazine, he'd show up at night clubs in a chauffeured custom Cadillac with a moon roof. He traveled with an entourage, including bodyguards in satin jackets adorned with Pollack's silhouette.
His bodyguards could not always be there to protect him.
One commercial featured Pollack in a safari outfit and a tiger. He had a fear of cats, even little cats, and being next to the full-grown beast was terrifying.