Charles Dezemler

Charles DeZemler

New York

Mr. DeZemler was born in Sweden, was orphaned at age 4, went to public school for four years and became a journeyman barber at age 14. Subsequently he migrated first to Finland, and then to Russia, where he barbered for two years. From there he spent three years in Germany as a barber. Having learned German, Finnish and Russian, in addition to the Swedish language, he was better equipped to find a good position as a barber in London.

Upon moving to England, he went to work in what was considered London's finest barber shop. In 1912, he accompanied the British military to the Balkans as an interpreter. He had saved enough money to visit the United States in 1913, and after spending a year traveling throughout the country, he became an American citizen.

His background and contacts enabled him to become the head barber at the Racquet and Tennis Club in New York City. Here he had the honor of cutting the hair of two U.S. presidents, Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Taft. DeZemler went out on his own in 1921, opening a three-chair barber shop on E. 48th St., later moving to 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Ultimately there were three shops in the Radio City area, one with 20 chairs, one with 12 and one with 10. He married, raised four children and loved his country. DeZemler was ever grateful for the opportunities and success he found in America, as barber to New York's elite. DeZemler authored a book on the history of the barber profession, entitled Once Over Lightly. He was inducted into the Barber Hall of Fame in 1968.

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