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Rob Zombie has paid tribute to veteran character actor Sid Haig, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 80 following an undisclosed illness. Haig was best known in recent years for his starring role as the malevolent killer Captain Spaulding in Zombie’s films House Of 1,000 CorpsesThe Devil’s Rejects and the newly released 3 From Hell.

Haig became ill just before Zombie started shooting the latter film, forcing the director to rewrite the movie and reduce the Spaulding character to a cameo. Zombie told us it was important to have Haig make even a brief appearance: [“At the time that we were getting ready to shoot, he was — had been in the hospital and was ill. You know, he just was not capable of making a movie. You know, we couldn’t get him cleared to work through insurance or through Lionsgate. So you know, I got them to let him come in for a morning to shoot some scenes, just to be in the movie, ’cause I thought it was super important. But, you know, he was in a bad way then.”] SOUNDCUE (:19 OC: . . . bad way then.)

Zombie penned a tribute to Haig online, writing, “I’ve known for a long time how sick Sid was and what he was battling. Over the past year as I saw pictures of him still attending conventions I thought perhaps he had beat it, but last week when he returned to the hospital I feared the worst.”

Zombie continued, “Sid and I had a long talk on the day that he told me of his condition and he knew 3 From Hell would most likely be his last appearance on screen. Sadly it was. I knew it was very important to Sid that Captain Spaulding make one more round and he did.”

Zombie concluded, “The Captain is gone…but he will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace Sid.”

Haig’s 60-year acting career included dozens of other films, among them cult classics like Spider BabyGalaxy Of TerrorKill Bill Vol. 2Bone Tomahawk, Zombie’s remake of Halloween and many others. But he said many times that he had nearly given up on acting when the role of Captain Spaulding changed his life and introduced him to a new generation of fans.