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Vidal Sassoon Dies at 84

Godfrey Deeny
May 10th, 2012 @ 00:26 AM - Paris

Vidal Sassoon, probably the single most famous hair stylist of the past half century, has died in Los Angeles. He was 84.

The famed stylist and businessman had been suffering from leukaemia for the past year. He died among his family on the morning of Wednesday, May 9, in Los Angeles, where he had made his home for the past several decades in Beverly Hills.

Sassoon, who was legendary for inventing the "bob" hairstyle, was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen in 2009.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Vidal Sassoon CBE, who died this morning at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones," read a statement issued on behalf of the Sassoon family.

In the world of hairdressing, Sassoon was a revolutionary figure who developed a trendy and tony clientele in his chic salon in London; from the Duchess of Bedford and model Jean Shrimpton to actor Terence Stamp, director Roman Polanski and fashion designer Mary Quant.

His five-point cut became famous when the then model, and now American Vogue creative director, Grace Coddington, was featured in an article in Queen magazine entitled, "Haircutting Becomes Design."

Early on on his career, he established a network of academies, becoming the first hair stylist to become a bold face name. Using the famous phrase, "If you don't look good, we don't look good," Sassoon build a multi-million-dollar business through his chain of salons and his hair products range, used by women across the globe.

An icon of London's Swinging Sixties, Sassoon lived the high life, and once famously commented: "In those days, having sex was the same as having dinner."

Sassoon's friendship with Polanski led to him creating one of that decade's most famous styles, the boyish crop of Mia Farrow's long blonde hair in the 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby," then the shortest hair ever seen on a woman in cinema.

Born in London to Jewish parents, Sassoon spent six years in an orphanage after his father abandoned the family. In 1948, he quit Britain to join the Israeli army fighting in that country's war of independence.

After returning to Britain, Sassoon opened his own Bond Street salon in 1958, going on to build a business valued at some $150 million.

Married four times, Sassoon met his fourth wife Ronnie on a blind date. He is survived by her, daughter Eden, and sons Elan and David. His eldest daughter Catya overdosed at a party on New Year's Eve 2002, aged 33.

Never forgetting his impoverished youth, Sassoon gave heavily to charities throughout his life, supporting the Katrina Fund, which raises money for the victims of the New Orleans hurricane of 2005, and helping to fund the International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University in Israel.

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