If you haven’t heard already cult cinema lost a legend earlier this week with the passing of blaxploitation and horror film icon Sid Haig. Haig passed away at the age of 80 on Saturday, September 21, 2019 after a long battle with illnesses and infections. A veteran of both the big and small screen Haig will be most remember for his contributions to Rob Zombies “House of 1000 Corpses” and its two sequels, but there’s so much more to this icons filmography than just a handful of films. Today we look back at Haig’s career and pay tribute to an icon who will be sorely missed. Let’s get to it.
Born in Fresno, California as Sidney Eddie Mosesian on July 14, 1939, Haig was raised in an Armanian community with his mother and his father Haig Mosesian whose first name Sid would adopt for his stage name years later. Haig suffered from speedy growth in his youth which led him to become a dancer to better adapt his motor skills. At the age of seven this hobby led him to join a vaudeville revival act and later he would explore his musical talents mainly specializing in drums. This became a major venture for Haig who signed a recording contract a year after graduating high school scoring a top five hit with the T-Birds called “Full House” in the late 1950s. However while music remained a passion of sorts for Haig it was a different entertainment art that would become his claim to fame.
While Haig developed his musical talents in high school he also explored dramatic arts and was encouraged to pursue the art as a career by his school’s drama department head Alice Merrill a Broadway actress who helped Haig secure contacts in the business. This led Haig to be discovered by musical comedy star Dennis Morgan during an audition in his senior year who further encouraged Haig’s dramatic career. Haig enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse two years after college where he received training from the likes of Robert Preston, Gene Hackman and Duston Hoffman before moving to Hollywood. By 1960 he secured his first acting gig in the short student film “The Host” by Jack Hill who would become a prominent partner in Haig’s film career. Haig’s major film debut was in 1962 in “The Firebrand” and he would go on to appear in numerous other features over the course of the 60s.
In the 70s Haig continued to work closely with Jack Hill but also earned roles in other notable features including “THX 1138”, the feature film directorial debut of George Lucas. He also appeared in the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” along with a slew of other big and small productions throughout the next two decades. The 70s included further roles in films like “The Woman Hunt”, “Foxy Brown”, “Swashbuckler”, “The No Mercy Man” and others. Many of these films helped establish Haig as a horror film staple helping him become a cult favorite. However, the big screen wasn’t Haig’s only claim to fame. He also appeared in numerous television programs from the 60s onward with roles in major hits like “Get Smart”, “The Flying Nun”, “Mission Impossible”, “Gunsmoke”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Jason of Star Command” and more.
Haig’s career slowed down in the 80s, but he continued to find steady work to maintain his presence on screen. He continued to cement himself as a horror great with features like “Galaxy of Terror” and “The Aftermath” but also added other genres to his filmography such as comedy with films like “Chu Chu and the Philly Flash” and fantasy with features like “Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II”. Haig continued to appear in television as well in the 80s with roles in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”, “The Fall Guy”, “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “The A-Team”, “MacGyver” and more. Haig appeared in a few other films and television shows before taking a hiatus from acting in 1992 feeling as if he had been type-cast in his numerous productions. After a five-year hiatus however Haig’s popularity would reach new heights as he became a favorite of one of the most prolific directors of the last three decades and appeared in the franchise that would make him a household name.
While on his hiatus Haig was approached by Quentin Tarantino about appearing in his eventual Oscar winning classic “Pulp Fiction”. Haig turned down the opportunity (the role eventually went to Ving Rhames) but it would not be the last time Haig and Tarantino were connected. Haig eventually made his return to the big screen courtesy of Tarantino in “Jackie Brown” playing a judge that was specifically written into the movie for Haig. This officially sparked a return for Haig although it would be another six years before he hit the big screen again. This time however he did so with his biggest contribution to cinema playing the infamous clown Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” in 2003. The character would go on to become one of the most iconic modern horror movie characters and established Haig as a certified genre icon himself as well as begin a long-lasting partnership and friendship with Zombie. The following year Haig teamed with Tarantino again with a role in “Kill Bill: Volume 2” and reprised his Captain Spaulding character in Zombie’s 2005 sequel “The Devil’s Rejects” and the 2009 animated feature “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto”, also by Zombie. From there Haig enjoyed a successful 2000s run of horror films including Zombie’s 2007 “Halloween” remake, “Night of the Living Dead 3D”, “Brotherhood of Blood” and others.
Haig stayed busy going into the 2010s continuing to appear as a horror regular with roles in “Creature”, Rob Zombie’s “The Lords of Salem”, “Hatchet III”, “Devil in My Ride”, “Bone Tomahawk”, “Death House” and more. He remained a hard-working genre regular well into the current decade, but his declining health began to show as the years progressed. Haig was set to appear as Captain Spaulding one final time in Rob Zombie’s 2019 sequel “3 From Hell”, but his poor health forced Zombie to re-write the movie relegating Haig’s scenes to a short but sweet cameo of sorts to conclude Spaulding’s story at the start of the film. It won’t be Haig’s last role however. He is slated to appear in the 2020 film “Hanukkah” as well as the soon-to-be-released “Abruptio”.
Sid Haig may not have the flashy filmography of a lot of other icons, but in the world of horror he was one of the best. His skills as an actor and his magnetic personality made him a favorite of numerous directors and a beloved actor in the eyes of his fans who often made trips to conventions to meet Haig in the flesh. While many expected his death due to his deteriorating health, it was nonetheless a heartbreaking turn of events especially so close to the theatrical run of “3 From Hell” which was released for a three-day viewing run mere days before his inevitable passing. Haig was a true legend whose choice of smaller films and frustration with type casting showed his commitment to exploring the true art of filmmaking and embracing the medium beyond the big budget formula. To some he will always be Captain Spaulding. To others he will be a character acting legend who will never be matched. But no matter how you remember Haig he will, in fact, always be remembered for his countless contributions to one of the most popular movie genres in the medium.