The 1st anniversary of the entertainment world losing Sid Haig is upon us. On September 21st, 2019 the Horror Movie community lost a true icon.
Sid Haig remains a beloved legend amongst his adoring fans the world over. Many horror fans likely would be surprised by his age though because at 80 years old Sid Haig was still extremely active on the Horror Convention circuit right up to within a short time of his having passed away.
Arguably, Sid was most well known in recent years for his role as Captain Spaulding, a deviant clown, and proprietor of a small-town roadside attraction called “Captain Spaulding’s Fried Chicken and Gasoline featuring the World-Famous Museum of Monsters and Madmen”, as featured in Rob Zombie’s film House of 1000 Corpses, followed by The Devils Rejects and 3 From Hell.
There have already been countless biographical things written about Sid which illustrate just how long of a career he had in the entertainment industry as a whole. I will include all of this information as well, but my main goal here is to simply reminisce and give praise to Sid where it’s due, in regards to his professional career, and the fans that followed his career over the years.
Sidney Eddie Mosesian was born July 14th, 1939 to parents Haig Mosesian and Roxy (Mooradian) in a strong Armenian community in Fresno California. Known for his impressive physical stature throughout his career, Sid began dancing as a young boy as a means of counteracting a lack of coordination due to his body growing so rapidly at an early age. Eventually, a young Sid was even performing in a Vaudeville revival show as a paid performer. It appears that even as a child, Sid seems to have always been destined to be involved in show business as an entertainer of one kind or another.
During high school, Sid was encouraged to pursue acting and in his senior year, he was selected for a prominent role in the school play. A well-known comedic actor from the 1940s named Dennis Morgan acting as a sort of talent scout saw the play and recommended that Sid continue his education and consider acting as a career path after school. Mr. Morgan saw that special something in Sid that indicated his innate talents within. I say this because as unfortunate as it may be, a young man of Armenian heritage in the late 1950’s did not enjoy the same acceptance that many of Sid’s peers at that time enjoyed. Sid likely faced injustices throughout his long life, however you would never know it when speaking with him.
Besides dancing as a child, and acting as a teen, Sid always had a keen appreciation for music and what seems to have been a natural-born talent as a musician. Specifically, Sid discovered and developed a talent for playing the drums. Around the end of his high school years at Roosevelt High School in Fresno, Sid had become the drummer for an instrumental band called The T-Birds. The band’s music was so well-liked that they were signed to a record deal in 1958 just a year after Sid had graduated high school.
The band had a hit single named “Full House” which reached No.4 on the charts which were at least partially due to Sid’s superb drumming skills. After working hard as a musician for some time Sid realized that he wasn’t making any money as a musician and he simply had to walk away from it to find another path. To this day, however, when listening to the song, one can see in their mind’s eye a young Sid Haig’s huge bright smile while keeping time as his drumsticks skipped and danced across those drums and cymbals.
Two years later in 1960 Sid followed Dennis Morgan’s advice and enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse, joining the ranks of other actors whose stars later rose to fame including Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman amongst others. It was during that time that Sid acted in his first movie, a student film short titled “The Host” written and directed by Jack Hill. Hill would later play a key role in Sid’s burgeoning movie career. Later Sid and a Pasadena Playhouse roommate named Stuart Margolin would decide to move to where the real action was for anyone in their 20’s seeking their fame and fortune, Hollywood California.
Sid’s long acting career began at this time with the young actor landing numerous roles in both film and television productions. In the 1960s and ’70s, Sid’s roles were various and encompassed a myriad of genres. Sid scored spots on a host of television shows including “The Untouchables”, “Batman”, “The Lucy Show”, “Gunsmoke” “Star Trek” and “Get Smart”. Later shows included popular titles including “Charlie’s Angels”, “Jason of Star Command” and “Fantasy Island”. His movie roles were just as assorted in terms of the genres and how prominent of a role he would get. In 1965 he played a bit character named “Daddy” in a Beach Party style movie titled “It’s a Bikini World”. In contrast, a few years later Sid played a highly prominent role in a cult classic film titled “Spider Baby”.
Just as Dennis Morgan played a role in Sid’s decision to pursue acting, his relationship with Chris Hill would prove highly important in Sid’s acting career as well. Hill went on to write and/or direct several influential films of the so-called “exploitation” era such as “Foxy Brown”, Coffy”, “The Big Bird Cage” and “Pit Stop”. All of these films would include, you guessed it, Mr. Sid Haig. Sid even had a role in 1971’s James Bond vehicle “Diamonds are Forever” as well as cult classic “THX 1138”, George Lucas’s first major film produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
In the 1980’s Sid continued his acting career that included another string of popular television shows including “Buck Rogers”, The Dukes of Hazard”, “The Fall Guy”, “The A-Team”, “MacGuyver”, and “Amazing Stories”. Sid held roles in many lesser-known movies throughout the ’80s as well.
Although television seems to have been a major contributor to Sid’s overall acting career up until the 2000s, Sid was still likely known best in his earlier years as having been involved in films created by highly important filmmakers like Chris Hill, George Lucas, Guy Hamilton, Robert Aldrich, and Richard Fleischer.
By the 1990s however, Sid had enough of being pigeon-holed into accepting roles as the same old characters time and again. He is quoted as saying “I just don’t want to play stupid heavies anymore”, indicating the typical big dumb brutes he had been typecast into playing so often. It was at this time during a self-imposed hiatus from acting that Sid studied, and trained to become a certified hypnotherapist among other certifications he earned while away.
The hiatus wouldn’t last too terribly long however as Sid is said to have been offered the role of Marcellus Wallace in Quentin Tarantino’s wildly successful “Pulp Fiction”. The role of Wallace would ultimately go to Ving Rhames, another huge name in Hollywood. Sid later regretted turning down that role. In an interview years after, he said that had he properly understood the way Tarantino worked while filming he would not have turned it down. Sid’s primary concern had been wanting to give the role as much depth and emotion as possible, and he mistakenly thought that the scenes would have been too rushed for him to do justice to the character of Marcellus Wallace.
In 1997 Sid did, however, appear in Tarantino’s remake of “Jackie Brown” as a judge character specifically written by Tarantino for Sid. As you may know, Quentin Tarantino has a huge affinity for grindhouse/exploitation era movies and was himself a longtime fan of Sid’s body of acting work.
In 2003 Sid then starred in a hugely successful horror movie titled “House of 1000 Corpses” as the menacing clown Captain Spaulding. Sid’s appearance in Rob Zombies Corpses’ coupled with the follow-up film “The Devil’s Rejects” jumpstarted Sid’s acting career like a lightning bolt energizes a lightbulb. Suddenly Sid was back on top of his acting game, and in his mid-sixties no less!
Haig would continue to collaborate with Rob Zombie on another several horror films including Zombie’s 2007 remake of the movie “Halloween”, as well as Zombie’s animated “The Haunted World of Super Beasto” and 2013’s “Lords of Salem”. Sid also appeared in several other horror flicks of the 2000s including “Bone Tomahawk”, and “Death House”. Sid’s last Rob Zombie related film credit was in 2019’s “3 from Hell” There are two more movies that Sid acted in which are scheduled for releases in 2020 and 2021 titled “Hannakuh” and “Abruptia”.
Although no person is immune from that inevitable day when they cease to live, it still hurts those that are left behind who miss them. Arguably, one of the people who miss him the most is Sid’s wife Susan L. Oberg. Although he was a public figure it appears that Sid was also a man who preferred to keep his private life fairly private. Sid is also survived by his two children who do not seem to be a part of his public persona.
Sid Haig has a large following of devoted fans, myself included. Those fans are certainly not necessarily all horror fans either. I think that is one of the wonderful parts of Sid’s legacy. Sid’s fans are made up of very wide-ranging types of people. Sid Haig fans are fans of the 1970’s grindhouse movies, blaxploitation movies, horror movies, action movies, and they come from backgrounds that span from garbage truck drivers to banking executives. The amount of love and respect that people have for Sid would likely have been both a point of pride as well as embarrassment for him since according to those closest to him, Sid was an extremely humble man.
I only had the pleasure of meeting Sid once, at my very first horror convention which was Days of the Dead in Las Vegas in June of 2019. That opportunity to briefly interact with Sid is a memory I will cherish always. I had my daughter who was just 6 months old at the time. First, we paid and waited in line to get a professional photo with Sid in Full Captain Spaulding costume and makeup. After having our photo taken with Sid, I learned that it would be some time before Sid was brought out to do autograph signings, so I went about taking in the sights at the horror convention.
I was very pleasantly surprised at just how gracious and friendly so many people there were. A couple of hours later I noticed that the line to get Sid’s autograph was far longer than anyone else. We waited for our turn and when it was time I selected a couple of pictures for him to autograph for me. Sid looked a bit tired or fatigued but he seemed to instantly light up a bit at the sight of my chubby and adorable little daughter.
He sat and made faces at her, and held her tiny little hands and feet while talking to me. Sid noticed that my daughter seemed to favor her left hand so he even shared a little story with me about how important it was to let her be a left-handed person without interference from anyone if that’s what she showed a preference for. If I remember correctly he said that he was born a leftie but was forced as a child to use his right hand instead. This is a story I will share with her one day when she is old enough to appreciate it.
When paying for my autographs I noticed that Sid only charged a small amount for his signature, unlike all the other celebs who were present for the same reason. Most celebrities charge between $30 to $60 per signature, with some charging as much as $100 per signature. The person assisting Sid who collected the payment said he wanted his fans to not have to worry about the cost if they really wanted his autograph. He truly appreciated the fact that people were out spending their valuable time and hard-earned dollars to see him, and that was a way of showing his appreciation to them in return.
My mention of other celebrities charging higher amounts is not meant to sound negative towards them whatsoever, but rather to show a bit of the generosity of Sid Haig which is often unseen amongst many of the people in today’s world, let alone in the world of celebrities and movie stars.
Currently there is extreme division amongst peoples of all races, creeds, and personal beliefs in the U.S. and worldwide. There is an active global pandemic that has seriously impacted the ability of people to attend events such as the horror conventions that Sid so frequently attended. People are viciously attacking each other verbally and physically, often with extreme anger stoked by media and news sources with a vested interest in covering the very turmoil and public unrest that they help to create through reporting with a less than unbiased perspective. You may be asking me what does this have to do with Sid Haig? Stay with me, I do have a point.
September 21st, 2019 looked far different than September 21st of 2020 does. Although purely speculative, I believe that Sid Haig would be greatly disappointed in what he saw happening in the world around us right now. Sid Haig was a man of principle and I truly feel that it would have hurt him to see so much hatred and fear plaguing so many people today. I also however like to think that he IS watching us from somewhere afar and maybe laughing and shaking his head at the often-times stupid things we as a society seem to worry ourselves over. Sid was an inciteful and loving person, despite the tough exterior most never got a chance to see past.
Lastly, I will leave you with some words of advice that Sid spoke during an interview from May of 2018 with Shaun at the Youtube channel StrangeLand Oddities. I am copying Sid’s words verbatim to try and capture the essence of his personality as well as his words of wisdom.
“If you are passionate about something, stick with it, okay?! Winston Churchill once gave a commencement speech to the Howard School which is where he went to school, and a piece of that commencement exercise stuck with me, and it was ‘Never give In. Never never never give in’. okay, and never have a Plan B, because when things get rough you’re gonna go to Plan B and then you’re through, okay? Nobody ever says ‘Well I think I want to be a hairdresser but if that doesn’t work out I’ll be a brain surgeon.’ No!, your Plan B is never harder than what your original goal is. If you’re passionate about something stick with it, okay. There was a time when I was going to the Pasadena Playhouse, a very famous school and in the kitchen, in the men’s dormitory, everybody had a little cubicle to put their food in and everything. One night I went in there and there was a box of rice, that was all that was there and I said “Well, I guess tonight it’s rice” and I picked it up but it’s like the empty milk carton thing and I had like a heavy tablespoon of rice (left). Why I kept it, I don’t know, probably for this reason! I said “Well, here we go” and I swallow the rice and drank some warm water and waited for it (the rice) to expand, but nothing was gonna make me quit.
Mr. Sidney Eddie Mosesian is a testament to hard work and perseverance. He came from modest means as the son of immigrants. He truly represents to me the achievement of the American dream, even though he would likely shy away from those types of ego-boosting analogies. Sid Haig was a one-of-a-kind man and he will be dearly missed for many years to come. Thankfully for those who were lucky enough to know and love him, we will always be able to at least see him smile and hear his voice in the many recordings of him which will live on as his legacy. Goodnight, sweet prince, goodnight.
Ian McGee. Gen X. Equal parts Man-Child/Cuddly Bear/Fierce defender of the weak. Dad and Husband. Lover of movies, music, jokes, food, good booze, and great conversation. Hello to any and all of my fellow horror movie aficionados out there on the ol’ inter-webs.