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Vidal Sassoon, fighter

Vidal Sassoon, fighter

Vidal Sassoon died in Los Angeles on Wednesday at age 84.  Known mostly as a name-brand in hair styling, upon reading of his death I learned a lot more about the man, and wondered why I didn’t know more before.

From The Times of Israel:

A veteran of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Sassoon also had a lifelong commitment to eradicating anti-Semitism. In 1982, he established the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem….

Growing up very poor in London, Sassoon said that when he was 14, his mother, Betty, born to a Jewish immigrant family from Ukraine, declared he was to become a hairdresser….

After his father, Jack, left Betty, she had been forced to place Sassoon and his younger brother in a Jewish orphanage. He left school at 14, worked as a messenger and a hairdressing apprentice, and volunteered in a Jewish WWII veterans’ group that disrupted post-war fascist activities in London. Aged 20 in 1948, he joined the pre-state Haganah, later to describe his time in the emerging Jewish country as “the best year of my life… There were only 600,000 people defending the country against five armies, so everyone had something to do.” …

He sold his business interests in the early 1980s to devote himself to philanthropy. The Boys Clubs of America and the Performing Arts Council of the Music Center of Los Angeles were among the causes he supported through his Vidal Sassoon Foundation. He later became active in post-Hurricane Katrina charities in New Orleans.

Sassoon was proud of his service in the Israeli War of Independence:

Sassoon’s dark brown eyes are on fire when he talks of his war memories. “We took a hill and attacked at four in the morning, took them by surprise. It was a hill overlooking a main road where the Egyptian heads of the army were heading. If they had passed this spot they would have been in Tel Aviv in a few hours but we took them. Many Egyptians died trying to get up that hill. They had terrible casualties. A faceless man sent them out there and they probably wanted to be with their loved ones.”

Was he very sad that he had to be part of that killing? “I wouldn’t have had any self-respect if I didn’t. Somebody had to be one of those somebodies.”

Here’s his photo from that time:

He didn’t shy away from a fight in London either:

Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union Of Fascists, had been jailed by Churchill but after his release in 1943 he tried to reignite his campaign against London’s Jewish population. “Suddenly there were fascists preaching hate on every corner,” Sassoon explained in the early Nineties when he broke his silence over those days.

The young Sassoon – whose parents were both Jewish – took little time in joining an organisation called the 43 Group, which was originally composed of 43 Jewish former servicemen but which swelled to be 1,000 strong. They were a crudely armed paramilitary force with the aim of breaking up Mosley-inspired meetings – with force if necessary. Sassoon likened the clashes between fascists and the 43 Group to “pitched battles” and he was usually in the thick of the fray. He once described the fighting as “horrendous” but insisted that “you had to be involved – you just had to be”.

Rest in peace, fighting haircutting guy.


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Romney was following suit…???

Just asking.

I remember, years ago, when was still modeling, I went into his salon in Chicago, for a hair show haircut. He wasn’t there, but his second in command was. Just listening to his conversations, Mr. Sassoon seemed to be a very remarkable man.


Lina Inverse | May 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

I’ve read some other reports covering the period before he really established his hairdressing reputation, where he’d have a customer leaving very distressed despite his assurance everyone would love the cut and then getting an apology the next day.

I bring this up because it would seem that he had moral courage along with this physical courage we’re only now learning about. That’s a really important think to keep in mind, I believe, when viewing all too many politicians who demonstrated physical courage in the military when they were young but not moral courage later; G. H. W. Bush is an iconic example for me.

Damn. I had no idea.
I’m gonna go buy some hair gel in his honor.
I wish we’d hear more stories like these.
RIP brave man.

Taxpayer1234 | May 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

When I was a teen, I enjoyed using Sassoon’s products. I still have a Sassoon curling iron that I bought in 1978 or thereabouts. (Still works!)

It’s a pleasant surprise to learn that he was a decent, freedom-loving human being with titanium nads.

LukeHandCool | May 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

“Growing up very poor in London, Sassoon said that when he was 14, his mother, Betty, born to a Jewish immigrant family from Ukraine, declared he was to become a hairdresser….”

Sounds like he lived up to his mother’s dreams … and then some. RIP.

Now I feel guilty for being bald.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Anchovy. | May 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

    10 Thumbs up!

    FR in SC in reply to Anchovy. | May 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Roger that, Anchovy! Like Pasadena Phil says below, he’s another Bibi! First I find out John Lennon liked Reagan, now it turns out Vidal Sassoon was Audie Murphy redux. What next?

Fascinating man. R.I.P. And I used to get my hair cut at his salon in Chicago, still the best memories of haircuts.

“Rest in peace, fighting haircutting guy.”


LukeHandCool | May 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

L.A. is long on style, short on substance.

It just lost a bit more substance.

Reading something like this makes me despise the cool, young, know-it-all hipsters even more.

Speaking of which … a huge, very loud helocopter just flew by right now … I didn’t give it too much thought until my wife said, “That’s Obama going from the Beverly Hills Hotel to LAX.”

Same here, professor. We, the world did not know more about Vidal Sassoon because he fought for Israel, the heroes of Israel are not touted by the world, never have been because it is Israel that the world hates. I heard an analogy that is so apt. The ratio of Jews (known and identified) to gentiles world wide is 2%. That means there are 400 of them to one Jew. On a playground it would be like 400 kids claiming one kid was the bully like all the Islamites who scream that Israel is the bully. 400 to 1 and they all sling snot and pout that Israel is bullying them. So why don’t the Islamites attack Israel??? Because the Islamites get their butts kicked in every war since 1948 by the G-d of Israel. Hate of Israel is a terminal psychosis.
Yanuach Beshalom Al Mishkavo” – ינוח על משכבו בשלום
R.I.P Vidal Sassoon

beloved2 – It’s either 0.25% or 50 kids, you only get to pick one.

But agree with the psychosis prognosis. And for Vidal Sassoon to RIP.

I never knew any of this before. I had just assumed he was another gay fashionista. He’s another Netanyahu!

DINORightMarie | May 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Thanks – I learned that an “American” icon was actually a brave Israeli freedom fighter and Nazi resistance fighter!! Great to know!

My question: was any of this published in a US obituary?


    DINORightMarie in reply to DINORightMarie. | May 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Well, at least the LA Times put in this one-liner:

    When he was about 20, he served as a volunteer soldier in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and found that it gave him “a sense of dignity and the confidence that helped structure my future,” he later said.

    Nothing in the WaPo, Miami Herald (AP article), etc.

    Way to go, US MSM. Not reporting the news, even in an obit!!

[…] Life Lesson for Crap Sandwiches? Posted on May 11, 2012 5:30 pm by Bill Quick » Vidal Sassoon, fighter – Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion Sassoon was proud of his service in the Israeli War of Independence: Sassoon’s dark brown eyes […]

BannedbytheGuardian | May 12, 2012 at 1:17 am

His daughter Catya died of a drug overdose.

These things don’t usually occur in happy families.

And 2 wives divorced him & he was surprised.

So not everything so rosy.