PASSINGS: Kenneth Battelle

Kenneth Battelle, an influential hairstylist who created Jacqueline Kennedy's tousled bouffant and counted Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball among his many famous clients, died Sunday at his home in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. He was 86.

His death was confirmed by the Kenneth salon he established in New York City in 1963.


Known professionally simply as Kenneth, he started out as a New York stylist in 1950 at Helena Rubinstein's famous New York salon. After Kennedy became a client in 1954, she stayed with him throughout her White House years. He styled the first lady's hair into the bouffant she wore at President Kennedy's inauguration in 1961 and into a pageboy the day before she left for the president's fateful 1963 trip to Dallas.

Battelle styled Marilyn Monroe's hair when she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962 and also did her hair for what ended up being her last photo shoot.

Other well-known women who turned to him included Lee Radziwill, Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Katharine Graham, Barbra Streisand, Mia Farrow, Diana Vreeland and Babe Paley.

In 1961, he became the only hairdresser ever to receive the Coty American Fashion Critics Award.

Born April 19, 1927, in Syracuse, N.Y., he began styling hair at a Syracuse hotel after graduating from high school. He served in the Navy from 1945 to 1947 and then arrived in New York City with $9 in his pocket, he later said.

Hired by the Rubinstein salon, he stayed until 1956, when he went to work for milliner Lilly Dache, who foresaw the demise of hats in the United States and was opening a hair salon.

He opened his own posh Kenneth salon on East 54th Street. After the building burned down in a 1990 fire caused by an electrical cord, he moved the salon to the Helmsley Palace Hotel and then the Waldorf Astoria, where it remains. He continued cutting hair there until two years ago.

-- Los Angeles Times staff reports