Jean Henry

Celebrity Hair & Wig Stylist

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Jean Henry - Theater, TV & Film Stylist

by G. Michael Dobbs, July 2, 2015, Feature Article: The Reminder

INDIAN ORCHARD – Glance around the Jean Henry Salon for a moment and you’ll notice something different: around the shop are photos of Henry with such show biz figures as Shirley MacLaine and posters from various Broadway productions.

Henry simply isn’t a fan. She has had a career styling hair and wigs in theater and for television shows and films.

Remember how authentic “Saturday Night Live'sDarrell Hammond looked as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump? The wigs in both those characterizations were Henry’s work.

She explained that as a member of Local #798 of the Hairstylist Union she gets calls to do work for film and television productions in New England and New York. Most recently she styled the hair for “background” performers in the Chris Pine film “The Finest Hours” set in the 1950s. She worked on the pilot of “The Devil You Know,” a TV miniseries set in New England during the Salem witch trials that was shot in Sturbridge Village.

She also had a bit of a challenge in matching hairstyles for the film, “A Quiet Passion,” which recently was shooting in Amherst. Henry explained this film about Emily Dickinson started its production in Belgium and moved to Amherst. She had to make sure the hair and wigs of the actors for which she was responsible matched those shot in Belgium.

“I never thought I was a history buff, but I do history through hair,” she said. “I get pulled into history. I love researching hairdos. That’s why I love doing movies.”

The Chicopee resident started her career in the late 1970s and worked in the area salons. She had done some theatrical styling at Smith College and at the urging of her husband Carl sent a resume to the production company that was staging a musical version of “A Christmas Carol” at Madison Square Garden.

She recalled how she didn’t know much about New York City and stayed with a cousin whose husband taught her which subways to take from their home in Queens to Manhattan.

After that were a steady flow of jobs and the start of a very different lifestyle. Henry said, depending upon the jobs, the days could be as long as 17 hours in length. She would come home to Chicopee during breaks in the productions.    

She was the hair supervisor on “Fosse,” the Broadway show that celebrated the noted choreographer and director. Through that show she met Broadway legend Gwen Verdon and then MacLaine.

Through another show, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” she met Patrick Swayze who invited the cast and crew to his California home.

In 2003, she worked with Polly Bergen in “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.” The late singer, actress and businesswoman impressed Henry.

“She was quite a woman,” she said.  

Her time on “Saturday Night Live” was from 2000 to 2009. She explained she was part of a hair/makeup/wardrobe team assign to particular members of the cast. Her cast members were Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Hammond, Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler.

“It was just wonderful being part of that show,” she said.

She recalled how the team would do quick changes on the actors in between skits – some as short as 45 seconds.

“They would surrender themselves to us,” she said.

Of the experience she said with a smile, “I loved it.”

She recalled how she would watch the news to try to anticipate who might be a target of a skit.

“Broadway prepared me for ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Henry said.  

It also prepared her for an important assignment: styling a wig for Miss Piggy. Henry worked on the 2004 production of “The Muppets Wizards of Oz.” She recalled with a smile how a package arrived for her and inside was the head of Miss Piggy.

She clearly prides herself on her professionalism and said her career has been a “learning process.”

Her advice to someone seeking such a job: “Be quiet. Don’t pipe up. It’s about getting them ready. And make them look good.”

She said that on a film set she is scrupulous about making sure each wig or hairstyle for which she is responsible is perfect and recalled how she accidentally pushed Chris Pine aside on “The Finest Hours” to fix an actor’s hairstyle who was going on camera. Pine took it good-naturedly in stride, she said.

Henry bought the salon in 2012 and it now serves as her home base.

“I’m trying to keep a balance. My clients enjoy what I’m doing and I take care of them. It’s good,” she said.

She added, “My clients are my stars.”

She is ready, though, for another film assignment and her two trunks of supplies and equipment can be made ready to go.

Emily Dickinson, A Quiet Passion, (Dept. Head in USA) Amherst, MA2015
Ghostbusters (hair stylist) Boston, MA2015
Live by Night (hair stylist) Boston, MA2015
The Devil You Know (hair stylist), (Movie Pilot - HBO) Sturbridge Village, MA2015
The Finest Hour (hair stylist), Walt Disney Pictures, Chatham, MA2014
The Rebound (key hair stylist)2009
Two Lovers (key hair stylist)2008
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (TV Series)
(key hair stylist - 1 episode) (key hair stylist)
Trust the Man (hair stylist)2005
Wilbur Falls (hair stylist)1998
Floating (key hair stylist)1997
Listing of Film, Television and Salon experience upon request.