'The Chanel Of Hair' Sassoon Dies Aged 84
Celebrity hair stylist Vidal Sassoon has died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 84. Los Angeles police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said he died of natural causes. His family was present.
A statement issued on behalf of the Sassoon family said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Vidal Sassoon CBE. "The 84-year-old hairdresser was born in 1928 and sadly lost his battle with leukaemia today. "He will be greatly missed by his wife of 20 years Ronnie, his children, grandchildren, family and friends." He styled the hair of royalty, film stars and models during a career in which he revolutionised hairdressing.
But he was also prominent in a campaign on behalf of Jewish ex-servicemen, and in 1982 founded the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-semitism, a non-political organisation.
Sassoon was born to Jewish parents in London on January 17, 1928. His father abandoned the family, who then moved to the East End of London with his aunts. But he was soon sent to an orphanage in Maida Vale where he spent six years, before being evacuated during the war to Trowbridge, in Wiltshire. On his return, aged 17, his mother had him apprenticed to a hairdresser.
At that time, Sassoon became interested in anti-semitism, opposing "fascists preaching hate on every corner".
He subsequently joined the 43 Group, which originally comprised 43 Jewish ex-servicemen, but which grew to be 1,000-strong.
During one heated fray, he was arrested and spent the night in jail, only to be freed the next morning by a judge who told him to "be a good boy".
In 1948, he left Britain to fight in the Israeli War of Independence for the Palmach (Israeli army).
On his return, he began to work for Raymond "Mr Teasy-Weasy" Bessone, but he needed to do something about his Cockney accent. "In those days, you couldn't get hired in the more fashionable West End with an Artful Dodger accent like mine. "I went to the theatre week after week to hear English the way it was meant to be spoken."
He opened his own Bond Street salon in 1958, and his trademark five-point bob revolutionised hairdressing. Sassoon was the father of modernist style and was also a key force in the commercial direction of hair-styling, turning his craft into a multimillion-pound industry. Mary Quant called him the "Chanel of hair".
Among his many celebrated clients were the Duchess of Bedford, model Jean Shrimpton, actor Terence Stamp and Quant. He conducted his business in the US as well as Britain, and he was hailed in both countries as a master of his art.