Biography

Jonathan Haze was, for most of a decade, one of the most recognizable faces in the films of Roger Corman, as well as one of the most beloved members of Corman's stock company of players. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1929, he was living in California and working at a gas station when, in 1954, a friend and customer, Wyott Ordung -- who was directing a picture called Monster From the Ocean Floor, the first movie produced by Corman -- offered him a small role in the movie, as a Mexican laborer. Billed as "Jack Hayes," he was as good as any of the more experienced players in the hastily shot sci-fi thriller, and while Corman and Ordung parted company as soon as the film wrapped, the producer liked Haze's work sufficiently to offer him more; Haze, in turn, brought an aspiring writer friend of his, Dick Miller, into Corman's orbit. Haze's next screen appearance was as an outlaw sent on a dangerous mission in the closing days of the Civil War, in Five Guns West (1955), which Corman directed as well as produced. Haze went on to appear in most (if not all) of Corman's movies over the next ten years, often playing wild and eccentric characters. A radiation-scarred victim of atomic attack in The Day the World Ended, a hapless soldier in It Conquered the World (1956), and a suspicious and libidinous chauffeur in Not of This Earth (1957) were some of his more visible parts. But it was in 1960 that he achieved stardom in Corman's Little Shop of Horrors. Well-meaning, not-too-bright flower shop assistant Seymour Krelboin, who breeds a man-eating plant, was the role of a lifetime, and Haze ran with it -- he brought to bear his best comedic instincts and carried the movie in tandem with Mel Welles as Seymour's employer, Gravis Mushnik, and Jackie Joseph as Seymour's would-be girlfriend, Audrey. Following Little Shop, Haze started moving into other areas of filmmaking. In 1961, he wrote the screenplay for the American International Pictures sci-fi spoof Invasion of the Star Creatures, and he later worked Corman's The Born Losers (1967) -- the movie that introduced Tom Laughlin's character Billy Jack. The following year, however, Haze moved into a whole different stratum of filmmaking with work on Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool (1969), among other films. In 1982, Jonathan Haze was seen fleetingly as the "Dapper Man" in the slapdash action flick Vice Squad. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi