Who Was Jay Sebring? The Celebrity Hairdresser And Manson Family Victim

By | October 8, 2020

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Chic barber Jay Sebring, working on actor Paul Newman's hair while he is reading the paper, sitting on motorcycle (only seat available) on the set of the film Moving Target outside sound stage at Warner Bros. Studio. (Photo by Don Cravens/The LIFE Images

The Manson murders have become such a major part of American history that a story has coalesced in our collective minds. On August 8, 1969, a group of Manson's followers hopped up on amphetamines made their way into the house on Cielo Drive where they hacked up everyone inside, including a pregnant Sharon Tate and her friend Jay Sebring. For people with only a cursory knowledge of the murders Sebring is a footnote, however he was anything but that in 1960s Hollywood. More than just a victim of one of the most gruesome crimes of the 20th century, Sebring convinced men that it was important to take care of their hair, changing beauty industry forever. Sebring's story is the classic story of someone becoming exactly who they want to be, and changing the world, before being cut down in their prime.

Before he was Jay, he was Thomas

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Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring. Source: allthatsinteresting.com

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1933, Sebring wasn't always Jay Sebring. His parents named him Thomas John Kummer and quickly moved their family to Southfield, Michigan. By all accounts he lived the typical middle class life in the suburbs - baseball cards in his bicycle spokes, playing stickball in the street, and nothing to foreshadow his wild final years. After graduating high school he joined to Navy and was sent to Korea. While in the service he learned how to cut hair, a skill that changed his life and made him one the most important fashion iconoclasts of the 20th century.