Croatian-American Dick Polich, who made a huge contribution to art over the past five decades and who manufactured the famous Oscar statuette, passed away at the age of 90.
Polich, the son of Croatian immigrants, was the owner of a fine art foundry near New York which has been in charge of producing the famous Oscar statuette since 2016.
The New York Times said that Polich died in November at a hospice in West Orange, N.J. but his death was not widely reported at the time.
Dick Polich was born Richard Frank Polich on Sept. 25, 1932, in Chicago to parents who had arrived in America at the beginning of the 1920s from Croatia.
His parents were from the small Croatian village of Zlobin, situated between Primorje and Gorski Kotar near Bakar on the northern Adriatic coast.
Dick grew up in a western Chicago suburb among the Croatian immigrant community, but he did say in interviews that he did not know too much about Croatia but did remember the stories and legends he was told as a kid.
He last visited Croatia over 20 years ago and said that he had not spoken Croatian since his mother died 17 years ago.
Polich went to Yale University on a football scholarship and graduated with an economics degree.
He then worked in industrial manufacturing at American Brake Shoe Company before serving three years as a fighter jet pilot in the Navy.
Polich graduated with a master’s degree from MIT in 1964 and soon after founded Polich Tallix, a fine art foundry near New York which was among the first in the United States to offer technical expertise and industrial capabilities in metalworking, which had previously been only capable in Europe.
For over 30 years the Oscar statuettes were manufactured by a Chicago trophy firm, but the Academy selected Polich’s foundry in 2016 to take over the duties.
He made thousands of sculptures in his career and worked with more than five hundred artists.
“His cavernous Hudson Valley foundry helped Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, Jeff Koons and many others turn their large-scale visions into reality,” the New York Times wrote.
Polich is survived by three by three daughters, four sons and several grandchildren.
A memorial service for Dick Polich will be held at UAP Polich Tallix in spring.