I was living a hairdresser’s dream. I was making my mark in this all-male field. My appointment book was filled with more and more celebrities. And I was becoming competition for my heroes . . .
Behind the scenes of every Hollywood photo shoot, TV appearance, and party in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, there was Carrie White. As the “First Lady of Hairdressing,” Carrie collaborated with Richard Avedon on shoots for Vogue, partied with Jim Morrison, gave Sharon Tate her California signature style, and got high with Jimi Hendrix. She has counted Jennifer Jones, Betsy Bloomingdale, Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, and Camille Cosby among her favorite clients.
But behind the glamorous facade, Carrie’s world was in perpetual disarray and always had been. After her father abandoned the family when she was still a child, she was sexually abused by her domineering stepfather, and her alcoholic mother was unstable and unreliable. Carrie was sipping cocktails before her tenth birthday, and had had five children and three husbands before her twenty-eighth. She fueled the frenetic pace of her professional life with a steady diet of champagne and vodka, diet pills, cocaine, and heroin, until she eventually lost her home, her car, her career—and nearly her children. But she battled her way back, getting sober, rebuilding her relationships and her reputation as a hairdresser, and today, the name Carrie White is once again on the door of one of Beverly Hills’s most respected salons. An unflinching portrayal of addiction and recovery, Upper Cut proves that even in Hollywood, sometimes you have to fight for a happy ending.
* Includes sixty rare photographs*
As one of Hollywood's most sought after hairstylists, White tells a rollercoaster of hair, celebrities and surviving life in the fast lane in her memoir. Abused by her stepfather and chronically neglected by her alcoholic artist mother, White grew up in the Pacoima district of Los Angeles and moved to Hollywood for high school. Here she discovered that the right hair was the key to a better life. Working her way through cosmetology school in the early 1960s, White made a name for herself in the male-dominated world of hairdressers with her motto that she was a girl first and a hairdresser second. Soon, she was cutting the hair of film stars like Warren Beatty and studio executives' wives, jetting off for international commercial shoots. White even styled Sharon Tate's hair for her wedding to Roman Polanski. But with the fame came a lifestyle soaked in alcohol and fueled by drugs. Soon she was addicted to cocaine, despite her responsibilities as a mother to four young children. It wasn't until she lost her salon in the early 1980s that she entered rehab, returned to beauty school, and rebuilt the business that is flourishing today. White's voice is captivating though some of her anecdotes drag and her story is an inspiring one, spiked with Hollywood gossip.
A real page turner. A flashback for those like me who were born in that era.
I blew through this book in 5 days. The first half reads as if Forrest Gump was a hair stylist. So many wonderful adventures fall in her lap. As a stylist myself, I loved hearing about the glory days of hair in the 50's and 60's. It is definitely a story of wizard of oz proportions...Carrie had the power with her all along.