Fresno: Local devil was inspired by zoo’s Angel Fresno’s Sid Haig

Fresno Bee (California)
May 4, 2004, Tuesday FINAL EDITION

Local devil was inspired by zoo’s Angel Fresno’s Sid Haig, known for
being a heel in cult films, will use his celebrity to aid Chaffee


This is what 30-plus years of lunch-bucket toil as a Hollywood heavy
gets you. Cult stardom. Horror-film conventioneers tripping over
their tongues in your presence. One highly placed B-movie fan,
Quentin Tarantino, giving you a part in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.”

And it was less than six decades ago that Sid Haig was performing a
Christmas skit with other children in the display window of the
downtown Fresno J.C. Penney.

Ah, kids. They grow up so quickly. Especially when they’re 10 pounds
at birth and stand 5 feet 7 inches tall by age 9.

Haig, now 64, 6 feet 4 inches tall and splitting his time between
homes in Fresno and Simi Valley, is semiretired from show business.
He lets the roles comes to him. He works when he wants to. He has a
second career as a hypnotherapist at a clinic in Tarzana.

But since last fall, he’s been heavy on the convention circuit,
hitting about two events a month. That’s not counting Saturday’s
appearance at Heroes comic book store in Fresno to benefit the
Chaffee Zoo.

Fans want to talk to him about movies such as “Spider Baby,” “The Big
Doll House” and “THX 1138.”

Some remember his turn as the evil Dragos in the kid show “Jason of
Star Command,” or his appearances in the original Pam Grier action
movies (“Foxy Brown,” “Coffy” and “Black Mama, White Mama”).

All of those roles, however, are at least 25 years old. His current
popularity is powered largely by a more recent character: Capt.
Spaulding, the malevolent master of ceremonies, in 2003’s “House of
1000 Corpses.” Haig got top billing in the movie, which was written
and directed by shock-rocker Rob Zombie.

Haig, a friend of Zombie, learned at Zombie’s wedding a few years ago
that the groom was writing a screenplay that plugged Haig into the
Spaulding role.

“Corpses” plays off the classic horror shtick of rain-soaked folks
stumbling across an isolated residence inhabited by unhinged freakos.

Spaulding, all bug-eyed and unnerving in a grimy Uncle Sam costume,
“is kind of the force that drives the innocent people to the house,”
Haig said. “Then everything just goes bad from there.”

The character didn’t die with the movie. He appears several times in
“Spookshow International,” a comic book that spins off from the film.

And later this month, filming begins on a “Corpses” sequel, “The
Devil’s Rejects,” with Haig back at blood-slickened center stage.

The book is what led Haig into Heroes one afternoon three months ago.
He wanted to see if the Fresno shop had copies of the title (it did).
The visit led to discussions with store owner Dave Allread. Those
talks spun into Saturday’s fund-raiser.

Haig will hang out at the shop and sign “Corpses” posters, comic
books and whatever else people push his way. (Parents, please note:
“Spookshow International” is an adult-themed comic.)

He also will sell various memorabilia from his career, with proceeds
going to the cash-strapped zoo.

Haig said he was inspired by Angel Arellano, who at age 9 made an
endearing appeal for zoo support that captivated the community and
led to more than $450,000 in donations.

“I thought, ‘I should be able to do something like that,’ ” he said.
“If you can’t make something of the celebrity you have, then what are
you doing, you know?”

That B-movie celebrity was enough to earn him a small role as Jay the
Bartender in the current hit “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.” His link to
Tarantino began a decade ago, when he just missed getting a role in
Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” Two years later, the director cast him in
a bit role in “Jackie Brown,” which starred Grier; Haig said he got
the part because of his work in Grier’s early classics.

“He has a family of actors,” Haig said of Tarantino, “and he just
uses the same people over and over.”

Haig has been a performer for as long as he can remember. Born in
1939 in the heart of Fresno’s Armenian community (his birth name is
Sid Mosesian; Haig is his father’s first name), he was taking dance
classes at age 7. Music and theater were added to the mix as he grew
into his teens.

After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he and some friends
formed a band and cut a single called “Full House.” His career as a
rocker lasted only two years, though it helped him land an uncredited
role a few years later as The Righteous Brothers’ drummer in a “Beach
Ball,” a teen bikini movie.

>From 1960 through 1992, Haig went nearly nonstop through hundreds of
roles in film, television and theater. Producers saw his tall, blocky
build and rough-hewn features and plugged him into countless
tough-guy parts.

His movies had such titles as “The Don is Dead,” “Swashbuckler” and
“Commando Squad.” On TV, he popped up on “Gunsmoke,” “Fantasy
Island,” “Mission: Impossible” (nine episodes), “Star Trek” and
“Batman” (as a sidekick to Victor Buono’s villain, King Tut).

“I got a lot of work just because they knew I was going to show up on
time, I was going to do my homework and that I wasn’t going to make
problems on the set,” he said.

Years of playing the heavy eventually wore Haig down. He wanted to do
more in front of a camera, but he was not getting the chance.

“At that point in my career, such as it was, I thought, ‘These guys
aren’t getting it. They don’t understand I can do more than point a
gun at somebody,’ ” he says.

He stopped actively seeking roles in 1992. Five years later, he got
his certification as a hypnotherapist.

Nowadays, Haig is perfectly happy to pick and choose the
opportunities that cult status bestows — even if that status still
makes him shake his head in disbelief.

“I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around it,” he said. “I’m still
amazed that anyone remembers any damn thing I did.”

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or at (559)



What: A fund-raiser for the Chaffee Zoo, featuring actor Sid Haig

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Heroes comic book store,

110 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno

Details: (559) 229-4376

GRAPHIC: LIONS GATE FILMS Sid Haig had top billing for the 2003
horror film “House of 1000 Corpses.” He will sign posters from that
film and sell memorabilia Saturday at Heroes comic book store in
Fresno. Proceeds will be donated to Chaffee Zoo.