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Celebrity stylist Vidal Sassoon dead at 84

JTA

May 9, 2012 | 2:07 pm

Vidal Sassoon (right) poses with his wife Ronnie as they arrive the opening of the first Stella McCartney boutique in Los Angeles in this Sept. 28, 2003 file photo. Photo by REUTERS/Jim Ruymen/Files

Vidal Sassoon (right) poses with his wife Ronnie as they arrive the opening of the first Stella McCartney boutique in Los Angeles in this Sept. 28, 2003 file photo. Photo by REUTERS/Jim Ruymen/Files

Celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, who was committed to fighting anti-Semitism and fought in Israel’s War of Independence, has died.

Sassoon died Wednesday in his Los Angeles home. He was 84. He had been battling leukemia, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In 1982, he established the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He toured the United States to raise funds for the center.

[Read our coverage of “Vidal Sasson: The Movie” here OR read “Vidal Sassoon—hero of the Jewish people”]

Sassoon, a London native, from the age of 3 grew up in a Jewish orphanage after his father left the family. He left school at 14 to become an apprentice hairdresser.

In 1948, at the age of 20, he joined the Haganah and fought in Israel’s War for Independence.  In the book, “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” a collection of memories and tributes from various notable figures, Sassoon wrote, “I am Jewish, humble yet proud of a heritage that has dignified me even as others have tried to destroy my race.  I was twenty years old when the Palmach/Haganah accepted me as a soldier in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. The experience changed the course of my life.  I am a Jew who believes that though small in numbers we have a powerful moral influence on the world and in the words of Hillel, ‘If not now, when.’”

He opened his first salon in London in 1954, and became known for his modern and low-maintenance hairstyles that used geometric cutting and layers to achieve a sleek and natural look.

Sassoon opened more salons in England and then in the United States. In 1973 he debuted a line of shampoos and styling products, gaining fame appearing in TV commercials using the slogan “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

His philanthropy included the Vidal Sassoon Foundation.

Sassoon was married four times and had four children.

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