Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!
Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.Hair. If you're lucky it grows, and you cut it. It's just a bunch of - whatever it is on the top of your head. If aliens landed here they'd probably say it was useless stuff. On my cat Conrad it makes soft and fluffy sense. I can barely imagine my dogs without it. Santa's reindeers would be quite a sight all fleshy and naked flying through the air hairless. But Hollywood was lost in all the frizzy, unruly curls, until Sydney Guilaroff (pronounced GIL-er-ahf) came along.
To the reclusive Garbo he was a friend she called Gilly, to Lucille Ball he was the genius who gave her the fiery red henna, and to Grace Kelly he was the only person who would do her hair on her royal wedding day. Guilaroff was the chief hairstylist at MGM from 1934 to the late 70's, he was the first person to receive screen credit for hair, and – get this - the first bachelor in American history ever to be allowed to adopt a child.
Superstar Joan Crawford forced mogul Louis Mayer to bring Gilly to Hollywood. Before that Crawford was going back to NY to have Gilly perform his magic. She'd have his creations photographed from all angles so MGM's staff could do her hair in perfect Guilaroff fashion.
If they worked in Hollywood he did 'em, and if he didn't, they probably weren't around long. He was confidante who knew where all the bodies were buried, literally - as he was one of Marilyn Monroe's pallbearers.
He even provided Marlene Dietrich with a non-surgical facelift, which used hooks in a wig to stretch her skin taut. In 1938's Marie Antoinette he even fitted an extra with a wig containing a live caged bird.
Sidney Guilaroff worked in well over 350 productions. His contributions to style and beauty far outweigh his notoriety. So when you're up late at night, take time to imagine a hairless Elizabeth Taylor, and you’ll be thanking Gilly too.