Hollywood Flashback: Marilyn Monroe's Hairstylist Was "God" in the Early 1960s

ONE TIME USE - Hair stylist Kenneth Batelle, Marilyn Monroe - Courtesy Everett Collection- H 2019
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Kenneth Battelle, aka Mr. Kenneth, also snipped the locks of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball.

Kenneth Battelle, aka Mr. Kenneth, was a one-man glam squad a half-century ago, cutting the hair of two women who were closely linked with President John F. Kennedy: first lady Jacqueline and Marilyn Monroe.

He also snipped the locks of Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball (she would call out, "Where's God?" when she'd step through the door of his Manhattan salon).

"Hairdressing may never be considered a profession, but it is so much more than a trade," Battelle said in a 1961 New York Times interview. "It's not just knowing how to put in a lot of rollers."

However, it was custom-made, extra-large Lucite rollers that gave Jackie Kennedy the signature bouffant style that The Hollywood Reporter said "volume-ized her hair … to make her face appear longer."

Battelle connected with Monroe (who he once said was "very vulnerable — the kindest, sweetest, most generous person I've ever known, period") just after she filmed 1959's Some Like It Hot. She believed, he said, that "her hair was falling out from over-bleaching and over-perming."

He did the actress' coif for JFK's 45th birthday party in 1962 at Madison Square Garden, where she sexily sang, "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" — a bit awkward with Mrs. Kennedy in attendance.

Battelle worked almost until his death at 86 in 2013 at his home in Dutchess County, New York.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.