Sy Sperling, founder of Hair Club for Men “and also a client,” dies at 78 |
The New York Times – Sy Sperling, a businessman who helped bring the hair-loss industry into the mainstream with ubiquitous, self-effacing ads, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 78.
His death was confirmed by his publicist, Terri Lynn, who said it followed a lengthy illness but did not specify the cause.
Mr. Sperling achieved a kind of cult fame in the 1980s, as a late-night commercial for his business, then called the Hair Club for Men, started playing on televisions around the country.
The son of a plumber from the South Bronx, he had no training as an actor and merely stood in a bland room, reciting memorized lines to the camera. But he added a winning kicker.
“Remember,” he said, about to hold up an old photo of his own bald pate, “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client.”
Calls started pouring in from men interested in his hair-restoration salons, which offered various “weaving systems.”
Mr. Sperling quickly became the face of male hair loss — however much sat on his head — and helped pave the way for a booming industry in male health and cosmetics.
Often called the Infomercial King of late-night TV, he appeared in bits on “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” stepped into the ring of WrestleMania, and made the rounds on TV talk shows and radio for years.
He told The Wall Street Journal nearly 30 years after the ad first ran:
“Even to this day people stop me in the street. People perceive me as the guy next door. My speech is imperfect. My whole TV success had to do with the fact that it was believable and that I was able to afford good TV time by going on late at night.”
Seymour Sperling was born in the Bronx on June 25, 1941. His father, David, was a plumber, and his mother, Carrie, was a bookkeeper … Read more.
Hair Club was founded in 1976 by Sy Sperling who famously quipped “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client” in his TV commercials.
For decades, Hair Club has advertised on television, airing several different commercials and infomercials. In 2004, Hair Club was purchased by Regis.
In 2012, Regis then sold Hair Club to the Japanese hair restoration company Aderans.