Noted motion picture hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff, who is credited for designing the signature look for most of MGM’s greatest female stars, died Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Rehabilitation Center following a lengthy illness. He was 89.
A 40-year veteran of hundreds of films, Guilaroff was the first hair stylist to be listed in the credits of a film.
Associated with some of the most famous films ever produced including “An American in Paris” and “Ben Hur,” Guilaroff’s illustrious career paralleled that of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Throughout his career he was the stylist of choice for Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra, among others.
Guilaroff is also credited with giving Claudette Colbert her signature bangs and turning Lucille Ball into a redhead.
Guilaroff’s client list also included Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, Liza Minnelli and former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Born in London in 1907, he had originally planned to be an architect. He later relocated to New York, where he found work as a porter at the Hotel McAlpin beauty salon.
In 1925 he joined New York City’s most esteemed salon, Antoine’s, where he became its top stylist.
Discovered in New York by Joan Crawford in the 1930s, he relocated to Hollywood and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where his fabled career began in earnest.
A partial list of Guilaroff’s film credits includes “The Merry Widow,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “Camille,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Waterloo Bridge,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Ben Hur” and “The Graduate.”
His most recent designs were for Ann-Margret in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.”
Last fall Guilaroff published his memoirs, “Crowning Glory: Reflections of Hollywood’s Favorite Confidante” with an introduction by longtime friend Angela Lansbury.
Guilaroff is survived by two sons.
Services will be private.