|DON "HARD BOILED" HAGGERTY
1925 - 2004
|Don Haggerty (real name Don Stansauk), known worldwide as Hard Boiled Haggerty, died peacefully in his home in Malibu, CA on January 27, 2004 at 7:45pm. HB suffered a broken neck in June of 2003 -- that, coupled with a series of small strokes, caused a rapid decline in his health. He was 78 years old.
An instantly recognizable figure to sports and entertainment fans alike, with his thick neck, bald head and handlebar moustache, Haggerty spent a large portion of his adult life
|in the public eye, first as a professional football player for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, then as a professional wrestler, then as an actor in movies, television and commercials.
In the wrestling ring, he wrestled all the big names of his era, always as a main event star. He held the United States title, a version of the World Heavyweight title and several versions of the World Tag Team titles. Minneapolis promoter Wally Karbo gave him the name Hard Boiled Haggerty. HB was frequently referred to as “The King of the Wrestlers.”
Amongst his countless film appearances: The Muppet Movie, Dirty Harry, Foxy Brown, Earthquake, Micki + Maude, The Wrestler, and Paint Your Wagon. On television he was seen on Get Smart, The Bob Newhart Show, The Love Boat, Starsky and Hutch, Happy Days and The Incredible Hulk, just to name but a few. (Former partner Lenny Montana also had great success in the film business, most notably as Luca Brasi in The Godfather.)
CAC president Red Bastein said, “It’s not always easy to make a dent in entertainment or wrestling because of all the competition out there. HB not only made a dent, he kicked the door down! He was his own man and he did things the way he wanted to. I’m surprised he didn’t get sued for some of his behavior, but that was just the charm of HB. I really liked him tremendously and he will be sorely missed by all of us.”
“Hag” was one of the most loyal and longest-running members of the CAC. He was a regular at the weekly meetings at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Hollywood, and only missed one of the reunions in all the years they were held. In 1993 he was honored with the prestigious Iron Mike Mazurki Award, one of the CAC’s highest honors.
Services will be held at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills on February 3, 2004 at 2:30 pm, Church of the Hills. A reception will follow at the Sportsman's Lodge, Studio City, at about 4:30 pm. The family has asked that all donations be given to the Cauliflower Alley Club Benevolent Fund.
|HB Haggerty (center) with Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon and Pepper Gomez in 1993|
|Melby's Mat Memories
(from the January, 2004 edition of the CAC newsletter)
by James C. Melby
Growing up, HBH was one of my favorite all-time favorite wrestlers. The self-proclaimed “King of Wrestlers” was a solid main event attraction, especially in the Twin Cities.
Haggerty first became interested in professional wrestling while attending Denver University. He would attend the matches, and soon became friends with Danny Loos, who would eventually train Haggerty for the throw-for-pay ranks.
After graduating for Denver University, HB was drafted by the Detroit Lions. After one season, Haggerty was traded to the Green Bay Packers. It was in Green Bay that he made his professional wrestling debut.
During the off season from football, Haggerty went on to Chicago and worked for promoter Karl Pojello. Pojello, who also managed the French Angel, said that Haggerty moved like a bird and gave him the name Don Sparrow. Prior to that time, HBH had been wrestling under his given name, Don Stansauk.
HBH next traveled to Ohio to wrestle under Al Haft’s promotional banner. Don Sparrow was making more money as a grappler, so he said goodbye to the gridiron.
After a quick tour of the east, he ended up wrestling for Tony Stecher and Wally Karbo in the Minneapolis territory. He was such a sensation in winning his Minneapolis debut over Kostas Devalis that Minneapolis ran all summer, a time period they traditionally took off.
Don legally changed his name to Haggerty at this point. It is interesting to note that Don was actually the third Hard Boiled Haggerty in professional wrestling. Previously, Pat McClarty and Benny Rosen had been billed as Hard Boiled Haggerty, dating back to 1939. Without a doubt, the third Hard Boiled Haggerty had the greatest success in the squared circle.
Starting in the Minneapolis territory, Haggerty gained victories over the game’s top stars, including Bronko Nagurski, Don Leo Jonathan, Fritz Von Erich, Yukon Eric and Primo Carnera. In addition, he was a constant challenger to Lou Thesz, Whipper Billy Watson and Dick Hutton in a series of NWA World title bouts. In fact, while wrestling for Eddie Quinn, HBH won a version of the World Heavyweight title from Yvon Robert, later losing those honors to Killer Kowalski.
HBH also had his share of glory as a tag team competitor, having held the World Tag Team titles with Gene Kiniski, Len Montana, Bob Geigel and El Shereff. He also held the United States title as a singles competitor on more than one occasion.
Haggerty wrestled against the cream of the crop of the game, including Verne Gagne, Pat O’Conner, Dick Beyer, Rikidozan, Nick Bockwinkel, Bearcat Wright, and Wilbur Snyder in a career that extended to 1972.
Haggerty continued to be in the public eye with a career in both motion pictures and television. Successful in that career too, he won the Bronze Halo Award and the Golden Mask Award. A long-time member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Haggerty was also a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.