Kenneth Everette Battelle was born April 19, 1927 in Syracuse, New York and grew up to become known simply as Kenneth, the quintessential hairdresser who took the hair world by storm in the 1950s.
The world of hair lost another great stylist on May 12th when Kenneth died at the age of 86 in his home in Wappingers Falls, New York.
Some hair experts suggest that he was the first hairdresser to be referred to as a celebrity hairdresser. This is open to debate since others believe the celebrity hairdresser title was first bestowed on Vidal Sassoon who became a hair icon in the 1960s.
Whether he was the first celebrity hairstylist or not, Kenneth did achieve international fame for creating Jacqueline Kennedy's bouffant in 1961. Jacqueline Kennedy was just one of his many famous heads.
Kenneth’s clientele over the years included Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Vanderbilt, Lauren Bacall, Diana Vreeland, Lucille Ball, Katherine Hepburn, Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn.
He also coiffed famous high-profile socialites such as Brooke Astor and Happy Rockefeller as well as styling hair for photo shoots for many of the world's leading fashion magazines. His salon was in New York City’s famous Waldorf Astoria hotel.
In 1961 he became the first, and only, hairdresser to win a Coty Award. In 2003 he was profiled in Vanity Fair Magazine which included images of some of the famous women whose hair he styled.
Although he achieved fame and esteem in the world of hair, he was beloved by his clients, many who were extremely loyal, staying with him until the very end of his career. Regardless of his place in the hair history books, Kenneth considered himself to be just a hard working hairdresser who put his clients first.
Kenneth took pride in making sure the sets of his clients looked perfect and lasted for days. A true hair artist, he was famous back in the day for his wet-sets which he created on magnetic rollers and then dried under the dryer.
Kenneth was skilled with all areas in the hair world and was known to have helped created the perfect blonde hue for movie star Marilyn Monroe. He made all of his clients, famous or not, look like a million bucks.
Ironically Kenneth had wanted to have a career as a psychiatrist but told the media he was limited by the requirements to help support his family. When he return home from World War II he qualified for the GI bill, but needed to make an income quickly. He say an ad for beauty school and the promise of a solid income and jumped at the opportunity.
Although he eventually made it to the very top of his profession, the humble hard working hairdresser started on the ground floor at a salon in Syracuse, New York. From there he landed a position at Helena Rubenstein in New York.
He was also known for always styling the hair of the various fashion and beauty editors in New York. This was a great way to catch their eye and help land work on their covers and in their magazines.
The world of hair will definitely miss this wonderful hairdresser.To read the official obituary in The New York Times, click on http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/nyregion/kenneth-battelle-hairdresser-to-the-stars-dies-at-86.html
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