Famed Hollywood Hairdresser Carrie White Dies at Age 78

The stylist lost her battle with lung cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2021.
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Carrie White, who at one time tended to the tresses of Sharon Tate, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Nancy Reagan, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Ann Margret, Sandra Bullock, Margot Robbie, Betsy Bloomingdale and Brad Pitt, passed away this week at age 78, from Stage 4 lung cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2021.

White opened her own Beverly Hills salon in the ’60s, where she often lobbed off the locks of high profile celebrities on roller skates, moving from client to client like a disco queen. She actually became so famous in the Hollywood of the late ’60s that White appeared on the classic television game show, To Tell the Truth. She also did hair for classic films like Shampoo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Being There and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Carrie White in the 1960’s

Carrie White later opened an eponymous salon near The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, tending to many models, designers, moguls and actresses. Always chic and well tressed, White for many years was a regular on the nightlife scene in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. A few years ago, she merged her salon with the Farre’ Salon, maintaining a trendy clientele.

With this kind of clientele, White of course had many a story to tell. In 2019, during the summer Once Upon a Time in Hollywood came out, White talked to Los Angeles magazine about her almost run in with the Manson Family. “I had done Sharon Tate’s hair for her wedding to Roman Polanski in January of 1968–with lots of ribbons and flowers. She had recently brought Abigail Folger into my salon, the coffee heiress who was also murdered on August 9, 1969. And Jay Sebring, her ex-boyfriend, another famous hairdresser, who also wound up getting murdered that night. I had been invited to a gathering of friends up at Sharon’s house the night of the murders—then the party was cancelled. Gene Shacove (another famous hairdresser) told me Sharon wasn’t feeling too well, she was pregnant at the time. Gene had been up there; he left their house around 9pm. A lot of people had been invited that night, including Steve McQueen. I didn’t talk about this for forty years until recently—I’d had a dream that night we were all at Roman and Sharon’s and  someone killed everyone in the place. Woke up in a cold sweat. That tragic moment that summer changed this town forever.”

White grew up in Pacoima, went to Hollywood High, then attended the Lapin Brothers Beauty College. “My career really started when my client, fashion designer James Galanos, recommended me to Jennifer Jones,” she told us. “Doing hair was a constant party back then. I’d skate around the salon in spandex pants with a gram of coke in my back pocket. At night we’d all go to the iconic Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace and do a few laps—it was at La Cienega and Santa Monica, where CVS is now. Cher and Jane Fonda were always there – in little shorts, midriff tops and platforms. The whole scene was about disco glamor.”

White described to LA Mag what hair in late sixties, early seventies was like in Hollywood: “At that time, hair was everything. Everyone was wearing these hairpieces called ‘falls:’ they had a little base, with lots of long hair. You could pull them back and let them drop down behind, with your own hair tucked over them. It was a look. The Sassoon geometric bob was also starting to trend. The ’60s were a conflict between very fixed looks and shaggy layered ones. Sharon wore hairpieces a lot. She also had her own hair—I’d cut her hair just like the hairpieces. You know, I lived with Sharon and Roman for a bit; they were like family.”

Carrie White with director/producer/actor Peter Bogdanovich

White’s autobiography Uppercut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life came out in 2015, with her friend Jackie Collins calling it “a riveting tale” on the back of the book; others described it as being filled with “sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and hair.”. According to friends, White had just finished her second book, while Uppercut was optioned by producer Mark Canton as a feature film, with Julia Fox playing Carrie White.