Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Look Back At Sharon's Great Friend, Jay Sebring

Here is another vintage article I have found.  It is a wonderful rememberance of Sharon's former fiancee and close friend, Jay Sebring:

Chicago Tribune, August 25, 1969

The Man and His Talent: Memories of Jay Sebring
by Everett Mattlin

The papers have naturally written mostly about Sharon Tate.  She was a beautiful girl with a brilliant husband  and a glowing career of her own before her.  I just want to recall a few things about another victim of that brutal Beverly Hills massacre, Jay Sebring.

I knew Jay but then so did most of the press who write about men's fashions and grooming.  He was the first of the new men's "hair stylists"  tho he preferred the name "hair designer"; he thought it sounded less feminine.  One newspaper said he introduced razor cutting to this country. That isn't true.  Jay usually used scissors, saving a razor for very coarse, straight, long hair.  But he once told me a man could cut hair with a piece of broken glass if he knew what he was doing. 

Jay got be so well known for establishing the idea of a high priced hair styling parlor for men because he was so good.  He was just plain better than anyone else.  I know he gave me by far the best haircuts I've ever had in my life, as my wife will testify.  He would set on a low stool, moving around your chair, studing your hair like a scientist, lifting it with a comb and getting the 'feel' of it, then cutting it slowly and gently, like a sculptor working on a special medium.

He opened his shop on Fairfax Boulevard around 1960 and at first he could barely pay the $80.00 a month rent.  Then an actress friend brought Vic Damone into the shop and Vic thought Jay was the greatest barber he had ever had.  He introduced Jay to Jack Intrattor, the impressario of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, and Jack in turn brought Sinatra to the salon.

By then Jay had it made. When Sinatra gave him a screen credit on "Come Blow Your Horn" it was the first time a men's hairstylist was so honored.  Every star in Hollywood began going to Sebring.  The last time he cut my hair, the chair was warmed for me by Cliff Robertson, and Bobby Darin took over when I left.  Jay flew to Las Vegas to cut Sammy Davis' hair.  Damone confessed to me that it once cost him $500.00 to fly Jay to Chicago so he could cut his hair before an opening.  When I asked Henry Fonda about Jay--and Jay confided to me that he believed he saved Fonda from going bald--Fonda said, "I can't get a good haircut in New York."

Jay was on all the Tv talk shows.  His prices went up, and up and up--$20.00 for a haircut, $35.00 for a haircut, $50.00 or more for a haircut if he came to the studio to do it.  It didn't matter: the studio footed the bill.  When the studio didn't pay, the actor would often go elsewhere.  Andy Williams told me Jay was the greatest, but he stopped going there because he said it was crazy to spend that much money on a haircut. 

Jay bought a Cadillac Convertible.  He bought the house John Barrymore built and that Jean Harlow lived in.  We sat in that big house for hours while he told me how he decided to become a hairstylist.  "I wanted something in an artistic vein that deals with people--and where I could keep my own hours and listen to music while at work and drink coffee when I felt like it."

The last few years he hadn't done much of cutting hair.  He had a dozen men he had trained working in his shop, he had a hair styling school, he had a whole line of products with his name on them.  He was a celebrity himself.  He was engaged to Miss Tate before she met Polanski.  He was a member of the Beverly Hills party crowd.  I hadn't seen him for several years, so I don't know if he had changed in such company, but when I knew him he was a slight, handsome young man, soft-spoken, very gentle, extremely likeable, serious, and often a little sad.

It will be interesting to see all the archive footage in the upcoming Sebring Documentary. Hopefully, it will show some the tv talk shows he was on.  Hope you all enjoyed the article.  Here is a lovely montage made by Tammie of Jay and Sharon.  Thanks so much for letting me use it here!  :

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the new to me article on Jay. Enjoyed reading that. Can't wait for Anthony DiMaria's documentary on his uncle Jay. I think everybody agrees that Jay Sebring was a great person. He was self made and lead an interesting life. That montage that Tammie made is well done and has fitting music.