Tacoma art icon Teddy Haggarty has died. Hollywood stars were among his pals

Teddy Haggarty sketching a scene inside a downtown Tacoma bar in 2006.
Teddy Haggarty sketching a scene inside a downtown Tacoma bar in 2006. The News Tribune file, 2006

Teddy Haggarty, an artist who felt as much at home in a Tacoma dive bar as he did palling around with Hollywood elite, died Tuesday. He was 64.

“Teddy was definitely a candidate for the most interesting man in the world,” friend Justin Peterson said.

Haggarty was a fixture on the Tacoma art scene as well as in Hollywood, where he worked as Alec Baldwin’s stand-in on numerous movies.

Along with film, Haggarty painted, promoted music, wrote poetry and knew just about everyone in the local arts scene.

“I was just a fan of Teddy’s, like everybody else,” his younger brother Leonard Haggarty said Wednesday.

Often found at bars like Bob’s Java Jive, Haggarty would make sketches and give them to the unwitting and willing models.

“He gave away thousands of those,” Leonard Haggarty said.

Haggarty died at St. Joseph Medical Center from complications following hip replacement surgery, his brother said. His burial and a celebration of life have yet to be scheduled.

Haggarty was born in Victorville, California, in 1953. In 1969, his family moved to Tacoma after their father, an Air Force pilot, was posted to what now is Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

After graduating from Clover Park High School in 1971, Haggarty attended The Evergreen State College. “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening was a classmate.

After graduation from Evergreen in 1975, Haggarty worked at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Atlas Foundry in Tacoma and in an Alaskan cannery.


In 1982, the Haggarty brothers became involved with a movie being made in Tacoma. “The Prodigal” starred Hope Lange and John Cullum.

Teddy Haggarty wrote about the experience for The News Tribune in a story headlined, “My short and happy life as an extra.”

Bit by the Hollywood bug, the brothers moved to Southern California. They still maintain an apartment in Hollywood today.

In 1987, Teddy Haggarty became a stand-in for up-and-coming actor Alec Baldwin in the comedy “Beetlejuice.” A stand-in is not an actor but a person who literally stands in place for an actor so cameras and lighting can be adjusted before a scene is shot.

Baldwin and Haggarty became fast friends, and remained so for the remainder of Haggarty’s life, seeing each other frequently, Leonard said.

Teddy Haggarty worked as Baldwin’s stand-in in about 20 movies. His last was Baldwin’s stand-in for 2009’s “It’s Complicated,” Leonard said.

In Tacoma, filmmakers used Teddy Haggarty as an actor. Randy Sparks put him in four movies. The most recent, “Rose Colored Shades,” will be released next year, Sparks said Wednesday.

“He has a small part, but a very important part,” said Sparks, who would meet Haggarty every Monday at The Swiss to discuss art, literature and cinema.

“He was very influential and kind of a mentor,” Sparks said.


After arriving in California in the early 1980s the Haggarty brothers became music promoters. One of their first projects was the Tacoma band, The Stripes.

“Teddy convinced us to start putting out 45s and it really helped our career take off,” said Stripes member Robert Richholt.

The brothers booked the band in venues from California to Japan.

Richholt’s brother, Dan, is a New York-based artist. He and Teddy Haggarty collaborated last year on a 40-by-8-foot mural that hangs in Jazzbones, the bar and nightclub on Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue.

The pair spent 12 hours a day for 10 days working on the panels that make up the mural.

“For all the people who loved Teddy’s art, it’s a going to be huge loss,” Robert Richholt said.

Another artist who collaborated with Haggarty was James Hume.

“He was always coming up with kooky ideas,” Hume said.

But they were ideas that worked, he added.

“He liked to go big, and he’d feed off of what other people were doing,” Hume said.

Haggarty was respected and loved, Hume said.

“He and his family became such a part of our family,” he said.

Along with several other artists, Haggarty and Hume formed the informal artist group, The Dead Artists — named that, “because artists get paid more after they’re dead,” Hume said.

“Sadly, he is the first dead Dead Artist,” Hume said.

Haggarty also wrote a series of poetry books, inspired by the poetry and writing of Charles Bukowski, who he later met and befriended.


Peterson, co-owner of the Peterson Bros. 1111 bar on Tacoma’s Hilltop, met Haggarty in 2007 at the Java Jive.

“We both liked dive bars, and we started hanging out,” he said.

Peterson had just come in to possession of some movie cameras and wanted to use them. Haggarty suggested himself as a subject. The film, “All About Haggarty,” was the result.

Peterson accompanied Haggarty on several of his Hollywood excursions.

“I was waiting for him (on the set of “My Sister’s Keeper”) and Cameron Diaz ran up and gave him a hug,” Peterson recalled. “We got to eat lunch with Alec Baldwin.”

No matter what town Haggarty and Peterson found themselves in they would find a bar to hang out, Peterson said.

“We tried to find the diveyiest, smallest bar,” he said. “That inspired 1111 for sure.”

Haggerty had style, Peterson said.

“He usually had rings on every finger, bracelets, necklaces, three jackets, some funky hat,” Peterson said. “He was living art — that was his style.”

On Wednesday, Leonard Haggerty was going through photos and other memorabilia. He long ago accepted that he lived in the shadow of his big brother.

“I was always known as Teddy’s brother and I was always happy to play second fiddle on that one,” he said.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor