Sid Haig, a Hollywood character actor who for more than 50 years played thugs, villains and, most famously, a psychotic clown named Captain Spaulding, died on Saturday. He was 80.
His wife, Susan L. Oberg, announced his death on the actor’s Instagram account on Monday, writing, “He adored his family, his friends and his fans. This came as a shock to all of us.” No other details were given.
Mr. Haig, who lived in Los Angeles, played bit parts in more than 350 television shows and 70 movies, notably “Jackie Brown” and the James Bond thriller “Diamonds Are Forever.” He had become a cult figure among horror fans, who reveled in his portrayal of the murderous clown who terrorized people in the 2003 Rob Zombie film “House of 1000 Corpses.” He would go on to play Captain Spaulding in two other films from the director.
Rob Zombie, a musician turned filmmaker, wrote on his Instagram account Monday of Mr. Haig’s death, “Horray for Captain Spaulding. Gone but not forgotten.” Fans, too, expressed their grief on Twitter. Mr. Haig was the recipient of numerous awards for his acting in horror movies. In August, he was awarded the Vincent Price Award for excellence in the horror genre.
Mr. Haig was a hulk of a figure whose lanky, long body towered over fellow actors. He was born Sidney Eddie Mosesian on July 14, 1939, in Fresno, Calif., according to his official website. His parents were Armenian, and his father was an electrician. He took dancing lessons and acted in high school. And he loved music. In 1958, according to the website, he played drums on the song “Full House” by the T-Birds.
Soon after, he enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse, a community theater with a school for theater arts that trained actors including Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. In his early roles in film and on television, Mr. Haig played thugs and heavies mostly. In the 1968 cult classic “Spider Baby” he played a brother who cooks a cat; he was in the 1974 blaxploitation film “Foxy Brown” with Pam Grier; and he had a small role in “Diamonds Are Forever” in 1971.
Moviemakers delighted in his characters. Quentin Tarantino cast Mr. Haig in the 1997 movie “Jackie Brown,” a homage to the actor’s appearance in “Foxy Brown.” (Ms. Grier, too, starred in “Jackie Brown.”)
But it was as Captain Spaulding, the psychotic clown featured in “House of 1000 Corpses,” that Mr. Haig became a cult figure among horror fans. Mr. Haig said in a 2015 interview with CryticRock.com: “When I first read the script, I knew that it had the potential to do something. I did not know that it was going to be as well accepted as it was. But I did know that it had something going for it.”
In “House of 1000 Corpses,” Captain Spaulding runs the Museum of Monsters and Madmen housed in a run-down gas station on a barren stretch of Texas. There, the clown shoots a man after being attacked. Mr. Haig reprised the role two years later in “The Devil’s Rejects.” He also acted in a number of other horror films directed by Rob Zombie, including the 2007 remake of “Halloween.”
He was back as Captain Spaulding in “3 From Hell,” a sequel to “The Devil’s Rejects,” which was released this month. “He was very cool,” Mr. Haig said of working with Rob Zombie in his interview with CrypticRock.com. “He was really laid back. He would just tell you what he was looking for and then leave you alone and let you do your job. Which is what most directors should do.”
Cassandra Peterson, known by her stage name, Elvira, said she met Mr. Haig at Rob Zombie’s wedding in 2002. But it was on the road at horror fan conventions where they forged a friendship. “He played this horrible character in Rob’s movies, and it took fans by surprise when he was sweet and took time with them,” she said. “He may not have been a big star. But in our world, he was an icon.”
Indeed Mr. Haig was a fan favorite. He made regular appearances at festivals to sign autographs or appear as Captain Spaulding, who became a recognizable villain among mainstream audiences. In June, he attended the Mad Monster Party in Phoenix where he signed autographs for fans. Earlier that month he was in Las Vegas for the Days of the Dead horror convention.
Fans often dressed up like Captain Spaulding at conventions or had tattoos inked in homage to his famous character. The adulation surprised Mr. Haig. He said on Instagram in February, “The level of commitment to put my mug into your skin for life just blows me away.”
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