The Colorist

MAR-APR 2016

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20 The Colorist | MARCH/APRIL 2016 | thecoloristmag.com alfred pagano A hairdressing legend ref ects on his remarkable career styling the iconic starlets of Hollywood's golden age. i terview | THE HOLLYWOOD ISSUE ★ TC | What made you decide to become a hairdresser? AP | After I graduated from Fairfax High School in 1937, I didn't know what to do. My dad was from the Old World—he believed you graduate, then you go to college or you get a job, so I went to Marinello Schools of Beauty. I went there just to please my dad. Then I started to do hair. My twin brother, Eugene, and I got into the business together. TC | Tell us about some of your famous clients. AP | We did so many—Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor. I'll never forget the f rst time I saw Elizabeth Taylor. I was doing this gal's hair at The House of Westmore salon, and she told me her girlfriend was coming to meet her for lunch. "Al," she said, "you'll drop dead when you see her." Liz was standing there in one of those Mexican PHOTOGRAPHY (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT): COURTESY OF THE PAGANO FAMILY; GEORGE HURRELL; PHOTOSHOT; APIC; MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES; GETTY IMAGES glamour gi ls During Hollywood's golden age from the early 1930s through the late 1950s, actresses like (from top) Jean Harlow, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Ava Gardener and Elizabeth Taylor dazzled moviegoers with their glamorous looks that still inspire celebrities and stylists alike today. lace blouses and huaraches. I'd never seen violet eyes, and that hair! She was up for her f rst movie. She came up and she said, "You must be Al Pagano." After that I started to do her hair, and me and my brother's careers really started to take off. TC | I understand you worked with Jean Harlow. How did you achieve her platinum blonde shade? AP | Yes. At that time we didn't have the dyes that we have today. I knew my mother used to wash with Lux soap f akes, peroxide and ammonia, so I mixed it into a paste and I put it on her hair. It burnt the hell out of her hair, but by the grace of God, she came out a platinum blonde. She started the whole new platinum blonde trend in Hollywood. TC | Did you also work with Lucille Ball? AP | Yes, the studios sent Lucille in to see me. She had a wild personality and they wanted a look to f t her personality. When she came in, she had light brown/dark blonde hair. First I bleached her hair out, light blonde, and then I said, "Now you're sure you want to be bright?" She said, "As bright as you can make it." I used Hopkins Egyptian Henna, and she turned out to be f re engine red. I f gured they were going to kill me! But when she went to the studios, they f ipped for it. Our careers skyrocketed. TC | How would you say Hollywood has changed since those days? AP | Hollywood was a different world. The studios were glamorous. Everyone dressed. Women wore dresses, and I wore shirts and ties. When I started out in the profession, there weren't too many male hairdressers. Men were mostly in makeup—the Westmores, Max Factor. My brother and I broke the barrier of the male in Hollywood's hairdressing industry. D uring Hollywood's golden age, when starlets like Jean Harlow, Lana Turner and Elizabeth Taylor lit up the silver screen, it was hairstylist Alfred Pagano who ensured their hair was always perfectly coifed. From the 1940s through the '60s, Pagano and his twin brother, Eugene, and their staff of 100 tended to the tresses of Hollywood's most fabled stars at Pagano's Salon in Beverly Hills, CA. Pagano worked behind the chair until the impressive age of 92, when he left the business to care for his ailing brother, and at 97, he may be the oldest living hairdresser who can recall the glorious golden age of Hollywood. Here, he shares his memories. Alfred Pagano

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