To His Barber, Ollie North Will Remain a Cut--and a Buck--Above the Others

From the Washington Post

Some people think Olliemania has come and gone. The lieutenant colonel’s longtime barber is not one of them.

Isa S. Saliba says that he will advertise himself in the Yellow Pages next year as “Ollie North’s barber.”

Saliba, 58, owns the Westover Barber Shop on Washington Boulevard in Arlington, Va., where Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North has been a customer about every 10 days for 12 years.


“People still like him. I still get calls from all over the country,” Saliba said of North, the former National Security Council aide who gained nationwide attention during the summer with his televised testimony before the congressional Iran-Contra panel.

Taken a Bath

At least one entrepreneur has taken a bath trying to capitalize on North’s popularity. A West Coast businessman said last week that he plans to take the heads off unsold Oliver North dolls and replace them with Mikhail S. Gorbachev heads.

But Saliba believes Olliemania is still going strong.

“Everybody thinks he’s a hero. If I knew a lot of people didn’t like him and he’s not still popular, I wouldn’t run it,” he said of the Yellow Pages ad for his barbershop, which he has owned for 20 years.

As North’s popularity rose during the congressional hearings, so did Saliba’s. He was featured in a national magazine and traveled to St. Louis in August to judge a North look-alike contest. His shop, with its old-fashioned barber chairs and porcelain sinks, is decorated with snapshots of North and magazines featuring North on the cover.

‘It’s Great’

“It’s great, no question,” Saliba said of his new-found fame.

About 25 customers still come in on a regular basis asking for an “Ollie cut,” a slightly longer version of the classic Marine haircut.

Scott A. Himmelfarb, 25, of Wheaton, Md., was in last week for a trim. Himmelfarb, who has an un-Ollie-like diamond stud in his left ear, has been coming in every three weeks since July for a North-style haircut. “He stood up for himself. It’s the American way,” he said of North.

The special cut is $6, a dollar more than a regular haircut. Saliba said he raised the price during the summer to cover the cost of the photo he takes of every customer who gets an Ollie cut. A print of each photo is kept in an album at the barbershop. North often autographs a second copy for the customer, Saliba said.

“He’s still the same. His smile never changes,” Saliba said of North, who remains a regular customer and now pays six bucks--like everyone else--for the haircut named for him.