Jackie Kennedy And Marilyn Monroe Had The Same Hairdresser

In the 1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy (and later, Onassis) and Marilyn Monroe were high-profile celebrities who captured the public's imagination. "There was Hollywood royalty and that was Marilyn Monroe, and there was American royalty and that was Mrs. Kennedy," author Giuseppe Longo informed People. While they were very different personalities, Jackie and Marilyn did have a few things in common. Besides Marilyn Monroe's alleged affair with John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and Monroe shared the same therapist (albeit at different times), and the two women were simultaneously clients of the same celebrity hairstylist: Kenneth Battelle.

Battelle connected with Jackie first, well before she became First Lady. One day in 1954, Jackie's regular stylist at a New York salon was sick, and Battelle serendipitously took his place. The stylist had no idea who Jackie was, but in his professional opinion, thought she needed a style makeover. "It was too short, layered, and curly for her tall proportions and big bones," Battelle told Vanity Fair in 2003. "I planned to soften the line and the shape, and I suggested she do this by growing her hair longer." Battelle also commissioned some large bespoke rollers to achieve his creative vision for Jackie's hair.

Four years later, Monroe became Battelle's client, after the actor went looking for a recommendation for a stylist who could revitalize her over-processed hair. "She became my favorite steady client," Battelle remarked, per Daily Mail. "She had wonderful hair; she had wonderful everything. She was one of the greatest people I've ever known."

Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe gained confidence from Kenneth Battelle

In addition to hair-styling talent, Kenneth Battelle established a rapport with his famous clients. "He was private and very discreet, and that's how he attracted both the wife and the mistress of the president," author Giuseppe Longo explained to People. "They fully trusted him."  Throughout his life, Battelle maintained ignorance of the alleged affair between Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy, and he was never tempted to profit from anything he did know. "He didn't exploit people," Joan Conine, Battelle's sister, told Syracuse's Post-Standard in 2013. 

Battelle designed a bouffant look for Jackie Kennedy, and it became one of the most popular hairstyles of the early 1960s. The celebrity stylist espoused looks that were soft and natural, so he was dismayed when Jackie requested more hairspray, after getting flak for wind messing up her signature style during a photo op. Battelle found a middle ground, telling Vanity Fair in 2003, "I always allowed a few wisps to fall away to make her look less 'set.'" This smart strategy can be seen in photos where JFK is tenderly touching the former first lady's wayward locks.

Battelle also made house calls, like when he visited Monroe's apartment to style her hair before singing at JFK's Madison Square Garden birthday celebration. "[Monroe] said she was fearful of publicity," Battelle explained, per People. "Since I was doing both Marilyn and Mrs. Kennedy at the same time, I imagine it was about that." 

Kenneth Battelle was close with Jackie Kennedy, JFK, and Marilyn Monroe

Kenneth Battelle's hair-styling skills were so valued by Jackie Kennedy that he was dubbed "Secretary of Grooming" during John F. Kennedy's presidency. As part of his responsibilities, Battelle gave the then-first lady a fresh haircut the morning of November 21, 1963 — the day JFK was assassinated. Just before he styled Jackie, JFK confided his dilemma about taking his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., to the airport to see them off or having him stay at the White House with his nanny. "To hell with the nanny," Battelle replied unequivocally, per Syracuse's Post-Standard, giving the child one more opportunity to be with his father before the tragedy.

For Marilyn Monroe, Battelle was on hand in 1961 to style the star when she left Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. "When she came outside, I was absolutely staggered by the way her fans behaved," Battelle explained to Vanity Fair in 2003. "It was as if they owned her — as if she belonged to them." The stylist saw Monroe for the last time in June 1962 for a photo shoot, and they spoke on the phone just a few days prior to Monroe's mysterious death in August of that year. "She said she was on the highway somewhere, driving around, and she just wanted to hear my voice," Battelle later recalled, per Daily Mail. "I have always wished I'd recognized the depth of her loneliness — perhaps I could've been a better friend if I had."