Vidal Sassoon, hair stylist and philanthropist
Vidal Sassoon, the legendary Los Angeles hairstylist who revolutionized his industry in the 1960s, died at his Bel Air home on May 8 after a two-year battle with leukemia. Although Sassoon lived in the glitzy entertainment world for more than a half century, he never forgot his humble beginnings in London’s East End, nor his Jewish ancestry. At the age of 20, Sassoon joined the Haganah and fought in Israel’s war for independence in 1948. Sassoon’s professional hairstyling career began during WWII when he worked as a “shampoo boy.” He opened his first salon in 1954 and quickly increased his salon locations throughout England and the United States. He broadened his hairstyling empire when he branded and created shampoos and styling products under the “Sassoon” label. Sassoon sold his $113 million-a-year company in 1983 to Richardson-Vicks, which then sold it two years later to Procter and Gamble. In 2003, Sassoon sued Procter and Gamble for neglecting the marketing of his brand name products in favor of other hair products. He alleged that Procter and Gamble intentionally didn’t promote his products so they could pay Sassoon lower royalty fees. An undisclosed settlement between the parties was reached in 2004.Philanthropy was important to Sassoon. He created the Vidal Sassoon Foundation that supports the arts, youth causes such as the Boys Clubs of America and educational “need base” grants mostly for Israelis. Sassoon helped establish the Vidal Sassoon International Center (SICSA) which engages in research on anti-Semitism throughout history. Located on the Mount Scopus Campus of The Hebrew University, SICSA is an independent, non-political establishment that studies and reports on international situations of tension and crisis between Jews and non-Jews. The current administrator of the center is the Dr. Robert Wistrich. Sassoon is survived by his fourth wife of 20 years, Ronnie, and his three children Eden, Alan and David.