Birthday of Vidal Sassoon, 1928

On This Day in Jewish History: January 17, 1928

On this day, 1928, Jewish British hairdresser and “Fascist fighter” Vidal Sassoon was born. His primary job had him working in hair salons, building a company and the bob cut for which he is best known. Additionally, he was a dedicated philanthropist who tracked down supporters of antisemitism in London as part of the “43 Group” after World War II and served in the Palmach during the British Mandate of Palestine.

Sassoon’s involvement in hairdressing began at a young age. When he was 14, he became a wig maker’s apprentice to ultimately support his poverty-stricken family, creating sheitel hair coverings for Orthodox Jewish women in London. Shortly thereafter, Sassoon joined the “43 Group” in London, which was set up post-WWII by ex-servicemen in response to a growing number of fascist organizations in Britain. He had been too young to serve during the war, and so at the age of 17, he became the group’s youngest member. From that point forward, Sassoon deemed it his duty to fight against injustices, such as the British government’s unwillingness to admit ships with Holocaust survivors into Palestine. He joined the Palmach, the Haganah’s elite fighting force, to push for Israel’s independence.

In 1954, after returning to London, Sassoon opened his own hair salon. His goal was to create modern and efficient styles for women, which led him to recreate the “bob cut.” The style was made famous by various 1960s celebrities, and it bought him a ticket to open another salon in New York City. Once in America, he was invited to create unique styles for Hollywood stars. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began his own line of hair care products, aptly named “Vidal Sassoon.” The line is now sold worldwide, and its creation was his last great business venture.

To continue his philanthropic work and his fight against antisemitism, Sassoon founded the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His other involvements include time spent with the Boys & Girls Club of America and engagement in relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina’s hit to Louisiana. Sadly, Sassoon passed away due to a Leukemia diagnosis in May of 2012. He made immense contributions to the beauty world and the battle against Fascist ideology on a global scale.

✍: @madelynilana

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