Fred Hayman, Godfather of Rodeo Drive, Dies at 90

Courtesy Katy Sweet & Associates Public Relations
Fred Hayman

The entrepreneur passed after a long illness.

Fred Hayman — the entrepreneur often credited with the transformation of Rodeo Drive into the premiere retail destination that it is today — died Thursday after battling a long illness, his publicist confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 90. 

Hayman's long and multifaceted career included highly successful ventures in hospitality and fragrance, including the founding of the Giorgio Beverly Hills boutique at 273 Rodeo Drive in 1961. The institution was the first luxury boutique on the then "sleepy" street. The white and yellow awnings, under which Hayman launched the Giorgio Beverly Hills scent, soon became an international landmark. (In 1987, Hayman sold the Giorgio Beverly Hills brand to Avon for $165 million, and the boutique was renamed Fred Hayman Beverly Hills.) 

By focusing on the fusion of the social atmosphere and the white-glove shopping experience, Hayman ushered in a new era of luxury shopping to Rodeo Drive, earning him the affectionate nickname the "Godfather of Beverly Hills." The retail magnate set the bar for luxe shopping events and took advantage of Beverly Hills' proximity to the glamorous Hollywood scene, cultivating relationships with celebrities and designers alike. Between 1989 and 2000, Hayman also served as the fashion coordinator for the Academy Awards, fostering the business of celebrity dressing.

Hayman immigrated to New York from Switzerland at age 16. He began his career in hospitality at the Waldorf-Astoria, where he quickly rose through the ranks. In 1954, Conrad Hilton brought Hayman to Los Angeles to be the head of banquet facilities at the Beverly Hilton, which he soon established as the destination for cultural, political and society events. 

In 1997, 35 years after opening his boutique at 273 Rodeo Drive, Hayman leased the space to Louis Vuitton. 

In 2011, Hayman was awarded with a star on the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style. That same year, former Women's Wear Daily West Coast bureau chief Rose Apodaca penned, "Fred Hayman The Extraordinary Difference: The Story of Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Glamour and the Showman Who Sold It All."

He is survived by his wife, Betty, three children and 10 grandchildren.

April 14, 4:15 p.m. Updated to correct Hayman's age.