Paul Huntley, Hair Master of Broadway and Hollywood, Is Dead at 88

Paul Huntley, the hair stylist and wig designer who gave Carol Channing her expansive bouffant in “Hello, Dolly!,” Alan Cumming his plastered curl in “Cabaret” and Sutton Foster her golden bob in “Anything Goes,” died on Friday in London. He was 88.

His demise was confirmed by a pal, Liz Carboni, who mentioned he had been hospitalized for a lung an infection.

Mr. Huntley left New York for London, his native metropolis, in February, and made clear in an interview with The New York Times that his work on “Diana: The Musical,” which is to start performances on Broadway in November, could be his final. The pandemic, he mentioned, had dried up alternatives, and his fractured hip was hurting.

In a 60-year profession, Mr. Huntley styled hair and created wigs for greater than 200 exhibits, together with “The Elephant Man,” “Chicago” and “Cats.” He was so revered that Betty Buckley, Jessica Lange and others had contracts specifying that he would do their hair.

“He put wigs on my head for every show except ‘Les Miz’ in London. He was the master,” the actress Patti LuPone mentioned. “When I put on a Paul Huntley wig, I never felt anything but my character.”

The costume designer William Ivey Long referred to as him “by far the premier hair designer on the planet, hands down.”

Mr. Huntley tried a wig on Sutton Foster in 2002 for her position in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” for which he sought to evoke New York City in 1922 with bangs, spit curls and finger waves.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Mr. Huntley’s output was prodigious, and he sometimes labored on a number of exhibits at as soon as. In 2014 alone, he turned out 48 wigs for “Bullets Over Broadway” and greater than 60 wigs and facial items for the Shakespeare Theater Company’s two-part “Henry IV” in Washington.

In 2002, when he designed the hair for the Broadway musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” he additionally labored on “Morning’s at Seven,” “Hairspray” and the Off Broadway comedy “Helen.”

For the present “Diana” — a model of which, filmed with out an viewers through the pandemic, is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on Oct. 1 — he created 4 wigs for the actress Jeanna de Waal to painting how the fashion of the Princess of Wales modified over time, from mousy ingenuousness to windswept sophistication.

Paul Huntley was born on July 2, 1933, in Greater London, one of 5 youngsters of a army man and a homemaker. He was fascinated at an early age by his mom’s film magazines. After leaving faculty, he tried to seek out an apprenticeship within the movie trade, however the flooded post-World War II job market had no area for him, so he enrolled at an performing faculty in London.

He ended up serving to with hair design for college productions and within the 1950s, after two years of army service, grew to become an apprentice at Wig Creations, a big London theatrical firm. He went on to turn into the principle designer, working with the likes of Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Laurence Olivier.

Mr. Huntley helped assemble the signature braids worn by Elizabeth Taylor within the 1963 film “Cleopatra.” Ms. Taylor launched him to the director Mike Nichols, who a decade later enlisted Mr. Huntley to do hair for his Broadway manufacturing of “Uncle Vanya” at Circle within the Square. He ultimately grew to become the go-to designer for performs and musicals, together with “The Real Thing,” “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Crazy for You.”

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Mr. Huntley would return to a present periodically to ensure requirements have been maintained. He described himself as “the hair police.”

Tony Awards usually are not given for hair design, however Mr. Huntley was given a particular Tony in 2003.

“Everybody says, ‘I want Paul Huntley,’” Emanuel Azenberg, the Broadway producer, as soon as advised The Times. “He makes the hair organic to the show. It’s not about him.”

Mr. Huntley approached hair not simply as an ornamental aspect however because the expression of an period or of adjustments in society, and as integral to character growth. For “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” he sought to evoke New York City in 1922, his bangs, spit curls and finger waves knowledgeable by a post-World War I sense of launch.

He additionally labored on about 60 movies, amongst them “The Addams Family” (1991); the 1996 live-action “101 Dalmatians”; the 2013 HBO biopic “Phil Spector,” starring Al Pacino; and “Synecdoche, New York” (2008).

Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” (1982) with Sydney Pollack, who directed the movie in addition to enjoying Mr. Hoffman’s agent. Mr. Huntley labored on the film in addition to the 2019 Broadway musical adaptation.Credit…Columbia Pictures

He returned to some initiatives greater than as soon as, amongst them “Tootsie” (each the 1982 Dustin Hoffman movie and the 2019 Broadway musical adaptation starring Santino Fontana) and “Hello, Dolly!” (in 1978 and 1995, each instances starring Carol Channing).

As Broadway exhibits grew to become extra technologically superior, Mr. Huntley advanced together with them, constructing fuller, taller wigs to accommodate mic packs and including highlights to make artificial hair extra vibrant.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years,” he mentioned in a 2002 interview with The Times. “I still get joy from it.”

In January Mr. Huntley bought his Upper West Side townhouse, which additionally served as his work studio, piled excessive with wig blocks, curlers and bins with labels like “Hair From England.” He had shared the house with Paul Plassan, his associate of 21 years, who had helped Mr. Huntley run his enterprise and died in 1991.

No fast members of the family survive.

Mr. Huntley ordered hair — bought by weight and size — from England, the place it had been harvested from asylums, prisons and morgues. Since lengthy hair was essentially the most versatile, Mr. Huntley stocked no locks lower than 10 inches and normally labored with 20-inch lengths.

He knew effectively the greater than 50 completely different shades of pink and 100 shades of blond, and he knew that white hair was the rarest and costliest, as a result of older individuals with that shade are inclined to maintain it brief.

Some of the wigs Mr. Huntley designed for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Elegant in a pinkie ring and usually a black turtleneck, Mr. Huntley was direct but additionally diplomatic, which enabled him to navigate sturdy personalities and fragile egos. He was unflappable when confronted with diva conduct and reassuring to the insecure. Part therapist and half stylist, Mr. Huntley was pleased to play any quantity of roles.

He additionally made a wig each month free of charge for chemotherapy sufferers who had misplaced their hair, his pal James M. Kabel mentioned. When one recipient requested what she owed him, Mr. Kabel recalled, he mentioned: “What do I owe you? Just get well.” The girl had a plaque with Mr. Huntley’s title put in on a park bench at 82nd Street and Riverside Drive in Manhattan.

“The most important thing is to give comfort to people and make them feel secure,” Mr. Huntley advised The Times in 2002. “Generally people are enhanced, made more beautiful.”