Aka "Mr Kenneth" or "Mrs Kennedy's Kenneth",
Date of birth: April 19, 1927, Syracuse, New York.
Date of death : May13, 2013, Wappingers Falls, New York.
Profession famous New Yorker hairdresser, until 1950s until his death.
Sometimes described as the most famous hairstylist in the world, he became worldwide famous by creating the
notorious "Bouffant" of Jackie Kennedy's hair in 1961 ().
Among his clients were, for example, besides Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn, and some socialites as Brooke Astor and
Happy Rockfeller ().
In 1961 he became the one and only hairstylist to be awareded with a Coty Award (,
First child and son, he had 4 sisters. His father Kenneth Sr ran a
shoe store and his mother Virginia was a bookkeeper. The parents
divorced when he was aged 12. To help his family, the young Kenneth did
many jobs (cook, dishwasher, beer seller, lift technician).
Aged 17 he joined the US Navy for 18 months. Then he studied during 6
months at the Syracuse University (thanks to his army pay) but when he
missed money, he had to quit the university.
After having seen an advert for the New York Wanamaker Academy of
Beauty, which promised a pay of $100 a week, he studied there for 6
months, and to earn more money to live, he worked in a restaurant and
also played piano in a bar. Then he studied at the Marinello Academy of
Culture in Syracuse, before being hired at the Starlet Beauty
Bar Salon. He worked there for 4 years, and he developed a variation of
the squared haircut (bob cut)
of the 1930s, the "Club Cut".
In October 1949 he worked in a hairdressing salon in a hotel in Miami.
July 1st, 1950 he settled in Manhattan and worked during 5 years at Helena Rubinstein's, whose salon was
located 655 5th avenue (,).
He did the model's and medias celebrities's hairstyle, because
Rubinstein demanded to hairstyle them for free and in exchange
to be mentionned in the magazines.
He first met Jackie Kennedy in 1954
throught Rubinstein; Jackie, fresh bride, had stopped at the salon to
see Lawrence, her regular hairdresser, but he wasn't there because he
was sick. So Kenneth took over from him.
He then worked at Lilly Daché's, a great hat designer. Realizing
that hats weren't in fashion anymore, she had created an extravagant
pink and white salon to attract the clients. Kenneth was hired to run
the salon which
became the more important one in New York (). Among his regular clients was Karlys Daly Brown, the head editor of Glamour magazine, who, in 1961,
hired Kenneth to write some articles about the way the women could
themselves take care of their hair, and as unique as it was for a
hairstylist, made the cover of the magazine.
His talent in hairstyle was the key of Jackie Kennedy's look, with a
judicious use of hairspray to make sure the hair didn't move easily,
but also for the curls not be rigid.
In 1963 he left Lilly Daché and opened his own salon, on March 4, 1963, located 19 East 54th Street
This was also his place of living. Sometimes the clients had to wait
for 3 months before having an appointment, and to please them, they
could find a wig store, a frozen storage for fur coats, massage rooms,
steam baths, and they could get a manicure or pedicure.
In 1974 he opened a second salon in Atlanta.
His New York salon was destroyed by a fire on May 16, 1990.
So he rented 6 places in a beauty salon at the Helmsley Palace Hotel and after 2 years, he settled his salon at
In 2002 he chose Kevin Lee, hairstylist employed since 1987,
to become the creation head to renew the salon and attract younger
clients. Lee preserved the tradition by proposing hairstyles the
clients could re do
themselves. Lee was the manager and Kenneth kept hairstyling until 2008 (,).
He died on May 12, 2013 at his home of Wappingers Falls (,,
Link with Marilyn
In 1958, dress designer Norman Norell
sent Marilyn to Kenneth, because she complained about the excessives
dyes and perms, making her hair fall. He became her favourite
hairstylist while she was in New York
Letter from Marilyn's secretary to Kenneth dated July 16, 1958.