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Laguna Beach Icon Retires and Passes Torch

Mention Charles’ Wigs, to any native Laguna Beach resident and you get instant recognition. A common reaction from home grown’s: I grew up with Charles’ Wigs! Charles Thompson branded his wig salon before there was a name for branding. Yep, it all started a short 45 years ago and now he’s retiring.

So what does a guy do after spending 45 years building a legendary business? Well, come to his Open House Retirement Gala on May 22, from 2 pm to 6 pm at his wig shop, 1816 south Coast highway and find out. While Thompson tells you all about the New Mexico ranch he and his partner bought, replete with a log cabin and guest house, let him introduce his heir apparent: hair piece designer, hair stylist and beauty columnist Marsha Carroll, who has been in the industry for several decades herself. She and husband Jack, who bought the uber successful shop, are hosting the celebration.

Under Thompson’s tutelage, she learned the construction of his custom pieces and nuances in wig and hairpiece selection that he’s spent years perfecting. “I am honored that he’s entrusting me with his clients and business that he began as a19-year-old young man.”

Realizing she has a lot of reputation to live up to, she feels fortunate to have been trained by the master hairpiece designer himself. “He’s the Sensei and I’ve been the Little Grasshopper,” she jokes, “And why reinvent the wheel? What Charles does works beautifully.”

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Also staying on board as shop manager and adding his flair to the wig service is Richard Dalton, former hairdresser to none other than Princess Diana. His snappy British/ Scottish accent entertains clients as he regales them with stories of his life among the Royal jet set. “I’m thrilled he’s staying on. He’s an extremely talented stylist and knows our clients and their needs, so he’s a tremendous help to me,” says Carroll, “And he’s got a tremendous sense of humor!”

Although they will both miss Thompson, he will only be a phone call away if questions arise about his clients. “We have a kindred relationship,” says Carroll, “Both of us want his clients to have the best.”

Another tidbit about Thompson that locals enjoy: for 30 years he played Jesus in the Pageant of the Master’s Last Supper painting and has appeared in Time and Life magazines, as well as many newspaper articles. “I knew there was something special about him,” says Carroll.

Charles’ Wigs is located at 1816 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

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