In this rare 1963 photo at Sebring International, Larry Geller can be seen in the back row on the left. This shot was taken in West Hollywood.
The afternoon of Thursday, April 30, 1964, as I was styling a client’s hair at the salon, my phone rang. The voice on the other end asked if I would like to come over to Elvis’ Bel Air home and style his hair. Would I! The day I entered Elvis’ world dramatically changed my life and began an enduring friendship and working relationship with one of the greatest figures of our time.
When I met Elvis, I had been working with major celebrities for several years and was on a first-name basis with most of them. I was pretty cool about it, but my excitement driving to Elvis’ house that first time was overwhelming. He was the celebrity of celebrities.
Elvis walked up to me with a big smile, offered his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Elvis Presley.” The word charisma falls short of describing his magnetism and charm. We shook hands and he led me into his bathroom to style his hair. Not a word was spoken, but I saw his eyes intently following my every move. The moment I finished my work, he spun around and asked me a question that drew us into a deeply personal conversation that lasted over three hours. That afternoon, Elvis and I made a profound connection that would change both our lives, leading to one of the closest friendships I would ever experience, and igniting a spark that already burned within him. For the rest of his life Elvis and I shared a spiritual journey, reading and discussing books from the world’s great wisdom traditions. Together we explored meditation, healing and other pathways to self-realization.
At the close of our meeting he asked me to give up my clientele and work for him full-time. I didn’t need even a nanosecond to say yes!
The next morning I reported to Paramount Studios and began working for Elvis, traveling with him and sometimes living at Graceland. I styled his hair for ten movies, countless personal appearances, hundreds of concert engagements, multiple Las Vegas appearances and his last TV special, “Elvis in Concert,” filmed just weeks before his death. The last time I prepared Elvis’ hair was for his funeral in August of 1977.
Elvis’ classic looks and image are universally and instantly recognizable; his hair is iconic. Yet many people don’t realize that an image of perfection is simply that: an image, an illusion. Though Elvis was blessed with a beautiful, full head of hair, it lacked body and required constant attention. From the very beginning I explained my philosophy to Elvis, the concept of bringing internal health and vitality to the external beauty of the hair.
Elvis said emphatically, “Larry, you’re in charge of my hair, do whatever you think is necessary, only one thing…just make sure I keep it.” With that in mind, I created only the most beneficial shampoos and sprays to meet Elvis’ specific hair needs. I probably looked like a mad scientist, or at least an alchemist, pouring and mixing various bottles of organic ingredients in Elvis’ bathroom, making my special formulas…potions that worked wonders.
After Elvis died I received a flood of offers, but I needed time to reflect and absorb the enormity of his passing. One project I did get take on was Dick Clark’s TV movie “Elvis,” starring Kurt Russell. Along with being a technical advisor and playing myself in the film, I also styled and dyed Kurt’s hair for his memorable role as Elvis.
Larry Geller joins forces with Jay Sebring at Sebring International
It was a brand-new concept, men’s hairstyling salons. But it quickly caught on. Jay’s concept was radical in the late fifties, but I knew that I had found my home, affording me the opportunity to evolve my craft and to participate in pioneering a contemporary art form. The shop had only been open a few weeks when I became Jay’s first apprentice, learning and practicing the Sebring method of “hair architecture.” I began by sweeping floors, answering phones, shampooing Jay’s customers and ultimately training a new breed of men’s hairstylists. Soon I was tending to my own burgeoning clientele.
Sebring International becomes a success
By the end of 1960, Jay Sebring’s prediction had become a reality. Our success story was the talk of both coasts, and over the next several years our clientele read like a show business Who’s Who. We styled the locks of such luminaries as Frank Sinatra,
Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Milton Berle, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Marlon Brando, Bobby Darrin, Sammy Davis Jr., Kirk Douglas, Don and Phil Everly, Jackie Gleason, Dennis Hopper, Rock Hudson, Sandy Koufax, Steve Mickey
Rooney, Mort Saul, Red Skeleton, Rod Serling and many other celebrities, including Hollywood’s most prominent directors, producers and agents.
Overnight our work was viewed by millions in motion pictures and on the most popular TV shows; we were making a significant contribution to the Cultural Revolution in style and fashion of the sixties. We provided what was dubbed “the look” and developed a new awareness for health, beauty and personal power.
Wisdome Organics by Larry Geller is the first truly holistic hair care, health and beauty system. Devoting his life to the study and practice of healthful and enlightened living, Larry has developed a complete wellness-oriented approach to haircare, grounded in the concept of wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Beauty and health are inseparable! Health and beauty, including the health of someone’s hair, are dependent upon many factors including heredity, environment, diet, exercise, and our mental and spiritual attitude toward life.
Larry Geller on tour with Elvis in 1977.
Read all about Larry below!
Larry and Shira Geller at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California. Photo: Don Wilson
Shira and Larry Geller arrive at Elvis Radio in Memphis. Photo (c) Don Wilson
Elvis with Larry in Hawaii, March 1977.
George Chakiris, Rita Coolidge and Larry Geller.
Larry Geller guests on The Cindy Cochran Show.
Don Wilson's Hollywood Beat
"I am a paramedical clinical aesthetician and have been for over 20 years. I have used every kind of hair care product available, including those I have purchased at all the skin care shows. As I have gotten older my hair has thinned out and is not as thick nor does it have the body that it used to have. I have not been able to find any other product other than Larry Geller's WISDOME ORGANICS that has given me what my hair has truly needed for so long. I highly recommend them and I know that you will not be disappointed. They have such a clean fresh scent with none of the perfumery residue. And my hair has a new thickness and body to it that I absolutely love." - Mindi Miller
"I wholeheartedly recommend Larry Geller's Wisdome Organics products. I only use Larry's Embody Shampoo and Conditioner and my hair has never felt so great and manageable! You owe it to yourself to try them for yourself - you will be glad that you did!" - Don Wilson
Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis and Larry Geller at Dodger Stadium on the set of "Spinout" in 1966.
Larry Geller guests on Elvis Radio on Sirius XM in Memphis. Photo Don Wilson
A rare photo of Elvis from 1967. Larry can be seen on the far right.
Larry Geller and actress Margaret O'Brien at the Sportsmen's Lodge. Photo: Don Wilson
Larry Geller is an American writer and speaker. He was a spiritual advisor and personal hairstylist to Elvis Presley. He played a major role in shaping the King's iconic hair looks. Elvis hired him on April 30, 1964, during the filming of "Roustabout". Larry became the man in whom Elvis confided in matters of the spirit.
Larry's career began when he joined forces with famed hairdresser Jay Sebring, opening the first men's hair styling salon in America in 1959. This salon provided services like women's hair styling salons, as opposed to the traditional barber shops.
Their salon, Sebring International, attracted Hollywood's A-list. Film stars, TV and recording artists such as Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Sammy Davis, Jr., Kirk Douglas, Marlon Brando, Peter Sellers, Steve McQueen, Henry Fonda, Robert Wagner, Glen Campbell, James Garner, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Rock Hudson, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Gleason were among their clientele.
Beginning in 1964, Geller left Sebring to accompany Elvis and style his hair for entertainment engagements, including film productions, concert performances, and reception of guests at Graceland. Their relationship went far deeper than the hairstylist and client. Geller was Elvis’ confidant and friend. He brought Elvis many new age ideas on "religion, philosophy, ... life, and anything else you can think of and books which contained them, which helped Elvis in his search for identity and purpose.
Larry styled Elvis’ hair for nearly a dozen movies including: "Roustabout", "Girl Happy", "Double Trouble", "Easy Come, Easy Go", "Frankie and Johnny", "Harum Scarum", "Paradise, Hawaiian Style", "Tickle Me", "Clambake", and "Spinout". Larry also prepared Elvis’ hair for the last time for his funeral in August 1977.
Larry and Shira Geller at Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway in Palm Springs.
Don Wilson and Niecy Richardson with Larry and Shira Geller in Studio City, California.
Larry and Shira Geller at Elvis' Honeymoon House in Palm Springs, California in 1997.