Michael Butler, the millionaire hippie who brought the musical ‘Hair’ to Broadway, dies at 66
Paul Scheer | USA TODAY
Show Caption Hide Caption Michael Butler’s ‘Hair’ brings musical to Broadway Michael Butler, the director of the smash musical “Hair,” died Friday at a Los Angeles hospital. Butler helped bring the show to Broadway in 1976.
He is survived by his parents, a sister, three brothers and five half-siblings, including two sets of twins.
The prolific and innovative hair stylist, who sold his company to the legendary hairdresser Jean Shrimpton for $40 million in 1968, died Friday, his longtime friend and hairstyle partner told the New York Times.
Butler, 66, began his career as a hairdresser when his father, former hairdresser Frank Butler, helped him launch his career in 1974.
“There’s no one more influential in New York in the last, say, 20 years than Michael Butler,” said Joe Scaife, co-founder of the famous New York City hairdresser Joe Scaife.
“Hair” was named for his mother’s favorite hairstyle.
“Hair,” which ran on Broadway and won a Pulitzer Prize, is based on the true story of a young black man who wants to be part of the white upper class of the 1960s but cannot, because he cannot get a part as a “trashy” black man. It is an enduring play on the black community that still has a place in the American fabric, even as racism continues to permeate in the U.S.
“We are all Michael Butler’s children. We’re not just his clients, we’re his family,” said his friend Mark Bittner, hairstylist at the legendary New York City hairdressing salon Marchesa salon in SoHo. “He had a huge and profound impact on hairdressing. If he were alive today, he would be in a big business.”
A true artist with a flair for the dramatic, Butler was also known for his ability to turn a simple hairdo into a masterpiece. One of his hairstylists