Birthday: October 10, 1933
Died At Age: 35
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Thomas John Kummer, Thomas John Sebring
Born Country: United States
Born in: Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Famous as: Hair Stylist
Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Bonnie Lee Marple (m. 1960 - sep. 1963)
father: Bernard Kummer
mother: Margarette Kummer
Partner: Sharon Tate (1964 – 1966)
Died on: August 9, 1969
place of death: 10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of Death: Murder By Stabbing
U.S. State: Alabama
City: Birmingham, Alabama
Who was Jay Sebring?
Jay Sebring was an American celebrity hairstylist who laid the foundation of the hairstyling salon franchise known as Sebring International. Sebring began his career in Los Angeles and gained prominence for his innovative styling techniques that are still in vogue. His clientele included numerous Hollywood stars and high-profile celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Warren Beatty, Sammy Davis Jr, Jim Morrison, Peter Lawford, George Peppard, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen. Apart from his styling skills, his charming personality, too, made him popular with his clients. Sebring also used his Hollywood connections to launch the careers of many of his friends. However, he was also known for supplying drugs to his clients. Sebring was married to model Bonnie Lee Marple, but they divorced after a few years. He was then in a relationship with actor Sharon Tate, but Sharon chose to marry director Roman Polanski. Sebring and Tate remained good friends. Sebring, Tate, and two of their friends were brutally murdered by three Manson Family members in 1969.
Childhood & Early Life
Jay Sebring was born Thomas John Kummer, on October 10, 1933, in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., to Bernard Kummer and Margarette Gibb. Bernard was an accountant.
Sebring had a brother and two sisters. He was raised in Southfield, Michigan.
He graduated from Detroit Catholic Central in 1951. He then served in the navy for 4 years, during which he was deployed in the Korean War.
After being discharged, Sebring moved to Los Angeles and made a career as a celebrity hairstylist, taking up the professional pseudonym ''Jay Sebring.'' The “Jay” bit was taken from the letter “J” of his middle name, “John,” while “Sebring” was inspired by the famous Florida car race of the same name.
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Jay Sebring graduated from a beauty school in Los Angeles and began his career soon after. Within a short span, he became a celebrity hairstylist. His innovative ways of styling made him extremely popular.
Sebring brought in the trends of washing hair before styling, using scissors for cutting hair, blow-drying hair, and using hair spray.
Jay Sebring launched a salon in Los Angeles, which was the only trendy salon in the city back then. His haircutting styles soon became quite popular. Sebring soon began teaching his methods of styling, which eventually turned into the Jay Sebring Salon franchise. His styling techniques continued to be in vogue even decades after his death.
In 1963, Sebring made his first TV appearance in an episode of the panel game show To Tell the Truth.
In 1964, Sebring met Bruce Lee at the International Karate Championships in Long Beach. Sebring later learned martial arts from him. He then recommended Lee to his producer friend William Dozier and got him the ABC series, The Green Hornet, which kick-started his career.
In 1967, Sebring launched the Sebring International chain of salons and his customized range of haircare products. By the end of the decade, Sebring International launched salons in West Hollywood, New York City, and London. Around the same time, Sebring was flourishing and charging a lot more than what regular barbers did back then.
Some of his celebrity clients were Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr. Sebring would fly to Las Vegas every 3 weeks to serve them. Another client of his was Jim Morrison of the iconic band Doors, to whom he gave his iconic free-flowing hair style. Actor-director Kirk Douglas recommended him for the 1960 movie Spartacus.
In December 1966, Jay Sebring was seen in a cameo in an episode of the TV series Batman, playing Mr. Oceanbring. The following year, he appeared in an episode of the NBC series The Virginian, titled The Strange Quest of Claire Bingham, playing a frontier barber.
Sebring was featured in the 1967 documentary Mondo Hollywood, which also featured some Manson Family members.
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Jay Sebring married model Bonnie Lee Marple, better known as ''Cami,'' on October 10, 1960, in Las Vegas. The two had met when he was in high school. According to a common friend of theirs, Cami once visited Sebring’s school and told their common friends that Sebring had styled her hair. They were married a month after they had first met. Apparently, Sebring had given her the nickname "Cami."
Sebring and Cami divorced in March 1965.
Journalist Joe Hyams had introduced Sebring to actor-model Sharon Tate at a party in October 1964. They began dating each other soon. He brought her a home on Easton Drive in Benedict Canyon. It was the former home of MGM producer Paul Bern. Actor Sally Forrest, too, had lived there.
After divorcing Cami, Jay Sebring proposed marriage to Tate. Though the two loved each other passionately, Tate was not ready for marriage and wanted to focus on her career. However, as a sign of commitment, she gave Sebring a ring that he wore until the time he died.
Tate went to London to start filming for The Fearless Vampire Killers, directed by Roman Polanski. While the movie was being filmed, Tate and Polanski began an affair. However, Tate did not hide anything from Sebring. Sebring met Polanski and was convinced that he deserved Tate.
Polanski and Tate got married in 1968, but Sebring continued to be friends with Tate. Interestingly, he shared a good relationship with Polanski, too. In an interview, Polanski once said that Sebring was a lonely person, irrespective of his extroverted public image. He regarded Polanski and Tate as his only family.
In 1968, Polanski and Tate introduced Sebring to the Folgers coffee heiress, Abigail Folger, who later invested in his haircare business.
Sebring was known for his flamboyant lifestyle. He was closely associated with many high-profile Hollywood personalities such as Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman. A 2019 Hollywood Reporter article claimed that Sebring provided drugs to his clients at his salons. He was popularly known as "The Candyman" by his high-profile clients.
Sebring and Tate's unconventional relationship was featured in Quentin Tarantino's 2019 comedy–drama Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood. Actors Emile Hirsch and Margot Robbie portrayed Sebring and Tate, respectively.
On August 8, 1969, Sebring, Tate, Folger, and her boyfriend, Wojciech Frykowski, had dinner together at a Mexican restaurant in El Coyote.
After they returned to Tate and Polanski's home on Cielo Drive, Manson Family members Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Charles "Tex" Watson broke into their house and forced all four of them to lie face down on the floor.
Thinking of Tate who was heavily pregnant back then, Sebring asked the intruders to spare her. Watson immediately shot him and kicked him so hard on his face that his nose and eye socket broke. He was then brutally stabbed multiple times. Sebring died of excessive blood loss.
The intruders then murdered the rest of the three.
Both Sebring’s and Tate's funerals were held on August 13 that year. However, the two funerals were scheduled at different times, so that their mutual friends could attend both. Steve McQueen read his eulogy.
Sebring was buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.
In an interview, Tate described a dream she had dreamed in 1965. She said that she had seen a figure with his/her throat slit and tied with a rope. She believed that it was either her or Sebring. Many later considered the dream a premonition of their gruesome murders.