Famed hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dead at age 84

May 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM ET

Samir Hussein / Getty Images /
Famed hairstylist Vidal Sassoon was found dead in his home.

Noted hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, known for creating the modern “bob,” has died at age 84.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, police were dispatched to Sassoon’s Los Angeles home on Mulholland Drive, where he had died of apparent natural causes, LAPD spokesman Kevin Mailberger confirmed to NBC News. 

The British style icon opened his first eponymous hair salon in 1954, and it grew into a worldwide chain with locations in New York and Los Angeles. 

Sassoon's popularity grew as he promoted his low-maintenance, “wash and wear” hair philosophy, changing the constricting, structured styles of the 1950s to the more free-flowing, creative cuts of the '60s – taking a cue from the women's liberation movement. Sassoon grabbed headlines when he created Mia Farrow’s iconic pixie cut for the 1968 movie, “Rosemary’s Baby” – at a reported cost of $5,000.

Ronald Dumont / Getty Images /
In this 1964 photo, clothing designer Mary Quant, one of the leading lights of the British fashion scene in the 1960s, is pictured having her hair cut by hairdresser Vidal Sassoon.

"Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power," he told the Los Angeles Times in a 1993 interview.  "They didn't have time to sit under the dryer anymore." 

Sassoon moved to the U.S. and sold his name to Proctor & Gamble to produce the popular Vidal Sassoon hair care line.

In 2011, a documentary was made about the style maven’s career, which spanned seven decades. In it, Sassoon shares memories of childhood poverty, living in a ghetto and being shipped away to a Jewish orphanage. His mother encouraged him to go into the hairdressing trade, and at age 14, he started an apprenticeship working as a "shampoo boy."

Tim Graham / Getty Images Contributor /
In this 1975 photo, Vidal Sassoon stands between two contrasting examples of his hairdressing at a teach-in at the Albert Hall, where he returned to hairdressing after a five-year break.

Sassoon then went to fight in Israel's 1948 War of Independence, continuing on to style success upon his return. But he carried on the battle against anti-Semitism, creating the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

It took Sassoon nine years to perfect his styling technique, and he promoted his products with the tag line "If you don't look good, we don't look good."

In an interview with The New York Times in 2011, Sassoon explained the key to being a great hairdresser.

"The ability to look at somebody’s face and body structure," he said. "It’s like sculpture. You eliminate the superfluous."

Did Vidal Sassoon ever affect your hairstyle decisions? Did you ever try a bob or a pixie cut when they were all the rage? Share your memories in the comments section here, or join the discussion on Facebook.