Helene Zalk Pollock

Date of Birth

January 8, 1919

Helene Zalk Pollock was born on January 8, 1919, in Duluth, MN. Her parents Estelle and Louis Zalk moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930’s. Her father Louis found success in the early days of the steel industry and later as a business leader when he introduced theosophy to Southern California and co-founded the Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill) in Ojai (along with theosophists Aldous Huxley, Dr. Annie Besant, Beatrice Wood, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and others). Helene’s perspective on life was in part influenced by her father’s work. After attending The Santa Barbara Girls School, she later spent some time at UCLA before meeting her husband and life partner Joseph Pollock.

Helene was a socialite of the highest order. Helene and her husband Dr. Joseph Pollock, chief surgeon at Cedars Sinai Hospital, were the quintessential Beverly Hills entertainers. They were locally famous for the parties they hosted at their home on Alpine Drive in the ’50s and ’60s and the room was always filled with amazing houseguests like Dinah Shore, international designer Kalef Alaton and other luminaries of the interior design industry. She would travel internationally as a hobby and bring back rugs from her travels throughout Europe, India, Iran, and China. She would often send containers of antiques and unique rugs back to Los Angeles. Her friends would want to buy them at a marked-up price and Helene quickly realized there was a business opportunity there. In the early 1970s, she opened H. Pollock Rugs on Melrose and became the premiere rug dealer in Beverly Hills (among her most famous clients were Jim Morrison and Natalie Wood). Helene and Joe also spent a lot of time at their ranch in Montana in the 1970’s and Helene loved buying cows at local auctions.

Helene and Joe moved to Santa Barbara in 1986 and became heavily involved in the community. While Joe ran the Santa Barbara Film Festival for several years, Helene continued to collect and promote local artists at H. Pollock Fine Art at two different galleries in Summerland well into her ’90s. She donated art to LACMA and the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. She founded the Pollock Theater at UCSB along with her husband Joe. Helene passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Montecito on March 15th at age 103.

Helene had a true passion for life, art, business, friendship, and family. She was the archetype of the modern successful business woman, a clever mind, a talented painter, a dedicated Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle solver, an incredible baker, and a voracious reader. She kept current on all issues of politics, news, and life. Her endeavors often placed her in the midst of history. Notably, she served on the grand jury of Robert Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan. She will always be remembered as the most loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Helene lost her husband Joseph Pollock in 2013 and her oldest child Thomas Pollock in 2020. She is survived by her daughter Margo (Pollock) Sinclair and Danny Sinclair, her son Kenneth Pollock, her four grandchildren: Alexandra (Pollock) Gagerman and Ryan Gagerman, Allegra (Pollock) Brandano and Paul Brandano, Luke Pollock and Ariel (Sinclair) Stern and Peter Stern, six great grandchildren: Haley Gagerman, Benjamin Gagerman, Amelia Brandano, Owen Brandano, Madeline Stern and Jacob Stern as well as by many wonderful friends including Denis Napton, Ralph Webb, Jack Lowrance, Richard Gaz, Steve Guy, Tamara Asseyev and Linda May. Donations in Helene’s name can be made to The Amanda Foundation.


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