(Robin Pogrebin’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/7; via Pam Green. PHOTO: The eminent Broadway wig designer Paul Huntley in 1997, with a hairpiece to be worn by F. Murray Abraham in “Triumph of Love” on Broadway.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.)
Challenged physically and financially, Paul Huntley, a backstage legend whose artistry is demanded in many a star’s contract, says this show will be his last.
Time was when just about every bouffant on Broadway could be traced back to Paul Huntley.
From “The Elephant Man” to “Chicago,” “Cats” to “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Huntley was the designer behind the wigs and often-elaborate locks that helped define the lasting visual impression of some 300 projects, earning him a special Tony Award in 2003.
He also designed hair for about 60 films, styling the likes of Bette Davis, Jessica Lange and Vivien Leigh. He turned Glenn Close into Cruella de Vil for the 1996 live-action “101 Dalmatians” and Al Pacino into Phil Spector for the 2013 HBO biopic. He fashioned “Tootsie” twice, transforming Dustin Hoffman for the 1982 film and Santino Fontana for the 2019 Broadway musical adaptation.
The costume designer William Ivey Long has pronounced him “by far the premier hair designer on the planet hands down.”
Born in London to a working class family, Huntley grew up paging through his mother’s movie magazines. He attended acting school but ended up helping with the wigs instead.
Following two years of military service, he worked as an apprentice at Wig Creations, a large London theatrical company, where he helped construct Elizabeth Taylor’s bedazzling braids for “Cleopatra.”