The life of Jay Sebring: Hair cutter to celebrities

On this day, October 10 in the year 1933, the most famous hair-cutter to the stars was born in Alabama, United States. His name was Jay Sebring, the founder of Sebring International, operator of high-end hair salons and marketer of hair care products.

Jay Sebring
Jay Sebring (Credit:

Jay Sebring was born Thomas John Kummer to an accountant-father. He grew up in Michigan where he finished high school at Southfield. While serving in the US Navy during the Korean War, he learned how to cut men’s hair. After the war, he settled in Los Angeles where he studied and graduated from a beauty school. Meanwhile, he changed his name to Jay Sebring. Eventually, he opened a barber salon in West Hollywood. It was then considered the most modern with three doors and all walls were covered with mirrors. Although most salons charged their customers for as low as $1.50, he was charging as high as $50 and up. Nevertheless, more and more rich customers including Hollywood stars became loyal patrons because of his stylish way of cutting hair.

Jay’s list of clients included Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman. He also got to befriend the yet-unknown Bruce Lee who taught him martial arts and movie-producer Kirk Douglas who contracted him to do the haircut for the slaves in the movie Spartacus.

Soon Jay Sebring was teaching his hair cutting styles to others who open their own shops. In 1967, he set up Sebring International to franchise his salons and sell hair care products. Branches were opened in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and London.

In 1960, Jay Sebring married Cami but their marriage did not last because they divorced. Later, he dated actress Sharon Tate who became his girlfriend for a long time but married another. On August 8, 1969, he and Sharon together with two other friends were murdered in California. The suspects were later arrested and imprisoned.


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