That’s right, this month the legendary Sid Haig, is my icon of the month.
Haig was born on the 14th July 1939 in Sidney Eddy Mosesian, Fresno, California, and was raised in an Armenian community. His father, Haig Mosesian, was an electrician. Haig’s career began somewhat by accident. As a young man, his rapid growth interfered with his motor coordination, prompting him to take dancing lessons. At the age of seven years, he was a paid dancer in a children’s Christmas show, and later joined a vaudeville revival show.
Haig also displayed musical talent particularly for the drums. So, when his parents got tired of him denting all the pots and pans in the house, they bought him a drum set. He mastered a wide range of music styles, including swing, country, jazz, blues and rock and roll. He found it easy to earn money with his music, and signed a recording contract one year out of high school. Haig went on to record the single “Full House” with the T-Birds in 1958 which shot to #4 on the charts.
When Haig was in high school, the head of the drama department was Alice Merrill, who encouraged him to pursue an acting career. Merrill was a famous Broadway actress who maintained her contacts in the business. During his senior year, a play was produced in which Merrill double cast the show, to have one of her Hollywood friends assess the actors in order to select the final cast.
The Hollywood contact who saw Haig perform was Dennis Morgan, a big musical comedy star from the 1940’s, who chose Haig for a prominent role in the play. Two weeks later, he returned to see the show and advised Haig to continue his education in the San Fernando Valley and consider acting as a career. Two years later, Haig enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse, the school that trained such noted actors as Robert Preston, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. After two years of “actor’s hell” (non-stop 7:00am to 11:00pm with homework thrown in just for the fun of it), it was time to move on to Hollywood, Sid did so with long-time friend and room-mate Stuart Margolin.
Haig’s first acting job was in Jack Hill’s student film at UCLA titled “The Host”, which launched Haig’s more-than-four decade acting career in over fifty films and 350 television episodes. He became a staple in Hill’s films, such as “Spider Baby”, “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown”. Haig was also a regular player for producer-director Roger Corman. He appeared in George Lucas’ “THX 1138” and the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”.
His television credits include appearances in such programs as “Batman”, “Gunsmoke”, “Get Smart”, “Mission: Impossible” (at least eight appearances in eight different roles as a villain), “Charlie’s Angels”, “Jason Of Star Command”, “Buck Rogers In The 25th Century”, “The Dukes Of Hazzard”, “Automan”, “MacGyver” and “The A-Team” (in which he played a jailed motorcycle gang leader) and “Emergency!” (again as a motorcycle gang leader).
Not exactly fond of the dialogue he was given in Galaxy of Terror (1981), Haig opted to play the character mute for most of the movie. When producer Roger Corman asked him why he was trying to play the role without dialogue, Haig’s response was, “Have you read it?”.
Haig retired in 1992 on account of getting typecast:
“I just didn’t want to play stupid heavies any-more They just kept giving me the same parts but just putting different clothes on me. It was stupid, and I resented it, and I wouldn’t have anything to do with it”.
Haig did not work in acting for five years, in place training and becoming a certified Hypnotherapist. During this time, he was offered the role of ‘Marsellus Wallace’ (later to be played by Ving Rhames) in “Pulp Fiction”, Quentin Tarantino’s second film. At the time, Haig was concerned that low budget television had been ruining his career and, at seeing the shooting script and the short number of days dedicated for each locale, he passed on the project. He has said that he always regretted this decision.
Then, in 1997, Tarantino wrote the part of the judge in “Jackie Brown” specifically for Haig. He and Pam Grier appeared in many “blaxploitation” films in the 1970’s, Haig usually playing a thug. So when Grier walked onto the courtroom set and saw that Quentin Tarantino had cast him as the judge, she burst out laughing.
In 2000, Haig starred in Rob Zombie’s debut film “House Of 1000 Corpses”, as ‘Captain Spaulding’. The role revived Haig’s acting career, earning him a “Best Supporting Actor” award in the thirteenth Annual Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, and induction into the Horror Hall of Fame. His image as ‘Captain Spaulding’ has become iconic in today’s horror genre. Haig reprised his role as ‘Spaulding’ in Zombie’s sequel to “House Of 1000 Corpses”, entitled “The Devil’s Rejects”.
For this film, he received the award for “Best Actor” in the 15th Annual Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, as well as sharing the award for “Most Vile Villain” at the First Annual Spike TV Scream Awards with Leslie Easterbrook, Sheri Moon and Bill Moseley as “The Firefly Family”. He was also nominated as “Best Butcher” in the Fuse/Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, but lost to Tobin Bell’s ‘Jigsaw’ from “SAW II”. He received both the Universal Eyegore Award for lifetime achievement and the prestigious Premi Maria Honorifica at the Stiges International Film Festival.
Haig reunited with Rob Zombie once again, albeit briefly, in the director’s “Halloween” remake, in the role of cemetery caretaker ‘Chester Chesterfield’. Sid Haig also reprised the role of Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s animated film “The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto”.
Haig ran a community theatre in Simi Valley, California, called Stage And Video Education Theatre (S.A.V.E.), which operated from 1989 until 2004. As of 2006, Haig donates 10% of his profits from conventions and appearances to charity. In 2007 he married long time girlfriend Susan L. Oberg with who he formed his own corporation, The Haig Group, of which he is Founder and President.
Haig continues to enjoy his renewed success as an actor and at the age of 74 shows no signs of slowing down appearing in independent Horror films and more.
“We shot that (Spider Baby Or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968) in something like ten or twelve days. For the first two days, I basically avoided Lon Chaney Jr. Not because I was afraid of him but because I had no idea what you would say to someone like him. There was a point where I was chosen to go find him because they needed him on the set. So I went to his trailer and I knocked on the door and then he was standing in front of me and I said, “Mr. Chaney, they need you on the set” and he said, “Stop that. I’m not Mr. Chaney. I’m Lon. You’re Sid. Let’s just keep it at that.” It really put me at ease.” – Sid Haig