Jay Sebring was a long-time friend and love of actress Sharon Tate. As most people know, they both lost their lives in the same senseless, horrific crime at the hands of members of the demented Manson family. The murders happened in Sharon's house in Benedict Canyon, outside of Los Angeles in California during the summer of 1969. Jay bravely defended Sharon with his life that August night. He was the first to die that terrible night.
Founder of the hair styling corporation Sebring International, Jay was also an innovative hair stylist of the colorful Hollywood jet set of the 1960's. A creative entrepreneur, his corporation was extremely successful. No one else was like Jay. His salon was hip and modern. Before Jay, there were only barber shops. To this very day, his company's products are still being sold and they are available online. He was a true visionary.
Interestingly, Sebring was fond of the ankh sign and had it in his salon and also on bottles of his hair products. The ankh was popular in the 1960's. Ironically for a man who became so famous for his death, the ankh is a symbol of life. It makes Jay's needless death even sadder, to think of how aware he was of life itself, to the point of adopting the ankh symbol as something so deeply personal.
Jay Sebring was born Thomas John Kummer on October 10,1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. His family, including a brother and two sisters, lived a middle class life in Southfield,Michigan outside of Detroit. Jay's parents were Bernard and Margarette Kummer. His father worked as an accountant. Sebring graduated from Southfield High School in the year 1951. From October of 1960 to August of 1965, Jay had a marriage that lasted nearly 5 years with Cami, a model. Somewhat shy, Sebring had dark good looks and in many of his photos he appears serious or brooding, elegant and introspective. He stood 5 feet,six inches and weighed about 120 pounds.
Sebring served four years in the Navy during the Korean war. Afterward, he headed to Los Angeles to start a new life and then changed his name to Jay Sebring. He chose "Sebring" because he was a fan of the Sebring Florida auto race. He was always fond of cars as well as racing, as was Paul Newman, another friend of his. In fact,Jay and Paul enjoyed racing cars together.
Sebring's leading edge hair cutting artistry caught on big with the Hollywood crowd. He met many fascinating Hollywood actors. Sebring preferred the title of "hair designer". He had many famous stars as clients such as Kirk Douglas,Henry Fonda,Warren Beatty, James Garner, Tony Franciosa,George Peppard,Vic Damone,Steve McQueen Frank Sinatra and Jim Morrison of the The Doors to name just a few. It was thanks to Jay that Bruce Lee was introduced to Bill Dozier, who cast him in "The Green Hornet" TV series. Jay also made appearances on TV talk shows, which would be fascinating to be able to view today.
Jay's business expanded a great deal, with salons in Hollywood, New York and London. His pals were jet-setters and he literally lived a swinging 60's lifestyle. He became somewhat of a celebrity himself. His salon served coffee and played music and was very modern. Jay trained other stylists who worked at his upscale,trendy and very in demand hair design salon. It could not been referred to as a barber shop. One of the things Sebring would focus on while styling hair was the natural pattern of hair growth. He would look to see how an individual's hair naturally grew. You could refer to this as observing "growth patterns" of the hair. At he time of his tragic death,Sebring was the premiere men's hair designer in the United States.
Jay was quoted as saying, "I try to cut hair so it doesn't make a man look as if he'd just had a haircut. It makes a man more comfortable and eliminates the usual haircut jokes". Another of Jay's famous clients was Deforest Kelley, who has said his $35.00 haircut from Sebring helped him get his role on "Star Trek".
For fun Jay starred in a "Batman" T.V. series episode in 1966. He played the part of "Mr. Oceanbring", the name was wordplay on his own name of Sebring, and the character Oceanbring also had a hairstyling salon as a nod to Jay's real life. Jay was among many celebrities who took Kung Fu lessons from the martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, who was in Hollywood at the time. Sharon Tate took lessons from Lee as well, in connection with a film she was in. In a 1975 movie titled "Shampoo", actor Warren Beatty played the part of George Roundy. The character of Roundy, a hair stylist, was based on Jay Sebring. Jay was also represented by actor Patrick Fabian in the production, "Helter Skelter" in 2004.
In 1968 Jay met Wojciech Frykowski and coffee heiress Abigail Folger through Roman Polanski and his wife,Sharon Tate. Abigail and Voytek were in a relationship. "Voytek" Frykowski was a close pal of Roman's. In what would be a twist of fate, Wojciech and Abigail, known as "Gibby" to her friends,had decided to move to Los Angeles. They had been living in New York. Frykowski was a friend of Roman's prior to his meeting Sharon.
The people who died together that fateful night on Ceilo Drive in 1969 had interconnections that are sad and yet interesting. Abigail Folger had invested in Jay's hair company and had also attended a reception in May of 1969 at a new salon Jay had opened in San Francisco. The salon was located at 629 Commercial Street and Folger's mother also attended,along with Hollywood actors who were friends and clients of Jay.
Handsome Hollywood actor James Franco is currently set to play the part of Sebring in an upcoming biographical film about the swinging 60's hairstylist. the production will be titled "Beautiful People". Franco is also directing the film. Release date "to be announced".
Jay Sebring's nephew, Anthony DiMaria, has been involved in this documentary about his uncle Jay's short life. Anthony's documentary will help the public understand what Anthony knows of the truth about Jay Sebring. No one can know everything though, except Jay himself.
Here is the trailer for the film;
People are looking forward to seeing this film. Hope it will not be much longer before it comes out.