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Vidal Sassoon reportedly had long battle with leukemia

May 9, 2012 |  1:13 pm

Vidal Sassoon

Famed hair stylist and fashion icon Vidal Sassoon died after a long illness, and the Los Angeles County coroner's office has plans for an autopsy.

Law enforcement sources did not disclose the nature of the illness, but numerous media organizations have been reporting for some time that Sassoon, 84, was battling leukemia. The sources said he died at his Mulholland Drive estate and that his doctors will make final death notifications.

Sassoon, hugely influential in the hair care and fashion worlds, was the subject of a 2010 documentary, "Vidal Sassoon: The Movie."

According to a Times profile in 1999, Sassoon went to work at age 14. As a "shampoo boy," he was responsible for mixing dyes: bleach powder, peroxide and ammonia.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

"The ammonia jar was kept locked up because if you spilled it, it would clean out the sinuses of the block, not just the salon," he explained.

In 1954, he opened his first salon in London. "I gave myself five years. If I couldn't change anything, I was out of there."

"When I first came into hair, women were coming in and you'd place a hat on their hair and you'd dress their hair around it," Sassoon said. "We learned to put discipline in the haircuts by using actual geometry, actual architectural shapes and bone structure. The cut had to be perfect and layered beautifully, so that when a woman shook it, it just fell back in."

He eventually opened a New York salon. In 1973, his hair-care products debuted to the trade. A couple of years later, he moved to Los Angeles, and by 1980, he even briefly had his own American television talk show. It was quite a life for a poor boy from London's East End.

[Correction: Sassoon was married four times. He married his current wife, Ronnie, in 1992. An earlier version of this post said they met seven years ago.]

According to the Biography Channel, Sassoon was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Vidal Sassoon. Credit: Phase 4 Films

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