Hard Boiled Haggerty Death – Stroke
1925-2004 (Age 78)
When people think of an old-school wrestler with a burly physique and menacing aura, “Hard Boiled” Haggerty comes to mind. In fact, his tough man look ensured he had no problem finding work in Hollywood as a character actor.
Born Don Stansauk, a short career in the NFL led to a long career in the squared circle as Hard Boiled Haggerty, and later, on-screen as an actor and a stuntman.
Stansauk was born on April 2, 1925 in Los Angeles and played football, trained with weights, and studied drama in high school. He found real-life drama during his service in the U.S. Navy during World War Two.
A Formidable Physique
Stansauk’s formidable physique and presence led to him working in professional wrestling where he quickly become a top star. During his run in the ring, the man who became known as “Hard Boiled” Haggerty (not the first person to work under that name) was considered a natural performer.
Hard Boiled Haggerty also had a gift for garnering free publicity. For example, according to the February 9, 2004 Wrestling Observer, Haggerty once took a picture with future U.S. President John F. Kennedy, showing off the picture as if he and the President were pals once Kennedy was elected.
Hard Boiled Haggerty Hits the AWA
Stansauk’s biggest run was arguably in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) where he captured the AWA World Tag Team Championship and the AWA United States Championship. Stansauk worked in a number of National Wrestling Alliance territories and competed in Japan also.
According to Tim Hornbaker’s book, Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers, Haggerty famously feuded with Verne Gagne, Freddie Blassie, and Gene Kiniski. Haggerty also battled Killer Kowalski in Montreal, competing over the International Wrestling Association (IWA) World Heavyweight Championship.
From Strongman to Stuntman
Haggerty had his name legally changed to Don Haggerty and started a new career as an actor and a stuntman, working as H.B. Haggerty. H.B. appeared in TV programs such as Get Smart, Adam-12, Kung Fu, Starsky and Hutch as well as films Paint Your Wagon. Foxy Brown, and The Muppet Movie.
Haggerty’s work as a stunt man led to him being inducted into the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame.
The Death of Hard Boiled Haggerty
In June 2003, Don Haggerty was involved in a motor vehicle accident where he sustained a broken neck. According to the Cauliflower Alley Club, Haggerty then suffered a series of small strokes before his health declined further. Hard Boiled Haggerty died at home on January 27, 2004 at age 78.
What are your favorite memories of Hard Boiled Haggerty as a wrestler or as a stunt man? Let us know in the comments below.