For Farrah, Ali and Cher There Is Only One Mane Man: Hollywood's Jose Eber

updated 01/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

First there was Kenneth. And then Suga, of course. And now, if you live within a limo ride of Beverly Hills and haven't heard Jose Eber murmur in your ear, "Shake your head, darling," you might as well forget the unlisted phone number for Ma Maison and turn in your Vuitton luggage, for God's sake.

Farrah Fawcett was one of the first to tumble for Jose (pronounced Joezay). She entrusted her tawny mane to him six years ago. And that was only the beginning. Before long Victoria Principal, Linda Gray and Goldie Hawn were all swearing by Jose. Whenever Cher comes in, her mother, sister and daughter, Chastity, are never far behind. And Barbara Walters flies Eber to Washington when she's going to interview the President or the First Lady.

The 34-year-old Eber, transplanted from his native France, holds court in the Beverly Hills salon he shares with his partner, Maurice Azoulay. His customers may be the best-known names in Hollywood, but inside the black-and-white Art Deco parlor, it's Jose who is the star of the show. In purple and red shirts, a trademark 10-gallon hat that he never takes off, and a waist-length honey-blond braid, he is fawned over by his famous clients, who shower him with gifts and bring in special foods for him to taste. Eber isn't just a hairdresser; he's a cult figure.

How does Hollywood's most successful scissors man cope with his stable of beauties? "When you have five or six big—and I mean big—stars in your shop at one time," sighs Jose, "it is very hard to keep them all attended to and happy. It happens a lot, and I don't know how I manage."

Eber manages by charging $25 for a consultation and $100 for a cut done by him personally. That's not a cut and color, mind you; Jose would never dip his hands in that goop. There is no such thing, he insists, as the Eber look. "I do not want to make my mark on my clients," he says, "sending them all out of my shop looking alike. I want them to look beautiful and feel sexy and that they are important in themselves."

Eber's fascination with ladies' tresses goes back to his boyhood in Nice. He was only 12 when he began doing his mother's, sister's and relatives' hair. He also locked horns with his conservative father, a textile importer who wanted him to become an optician. "My father was always trying to get me to conform," says Jose. "I resisted. I wanted my own identity." With his family he moved to Berlin, and at 15, he landed his first job in the Hilton Hotel beauty parlor. Next stop, at 21, was Paris, where after five years he was made the No. 2 man at the avant-garde Jacques Dessange salon. "But I worked long hours," says Jose, "and I am taking crap from everybody for a very long time. I paid a price for success."

Eber flipped for L.A. on his first trip to the U.S. in July 1975 and a mere nine months later was back for good. "It's heaven here," he swoons. "I knew I had the personality to make it. I was outrageous with my long hair and clothes and soon everyone was talking about me. I would have made it without Farrah, but she made it happen sooner."

Now that he's made it, Eber will ply his trade just about anywhere. He did Ali MacGraw's hair in an airport bathroom and Cathy Lee Crosby's on top of a horse for a commercial. Of course, he makes house calls too—at anywhere from $300 to $1,000 a clip. He also makes biweekly appearances on Hour Magazine, syndicated in more than 150 cities across the country. On the air Eber does make-overs and offers practical tips to his fans. And next month Jose will go even more public with a book called, you guessed it, Shake Your Head, Darling.

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