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Growing up very poor in London, Sassoon said that when he was 14, his mother declared he was to become a hairdresser. After traveling to Palestine and serving in the Israeli war, he returned home to fulfill her dream.

“I thought I’d be a soccer player but my mother said I should be a hairdresser, and, as often happens, the mother got her way,” he told the AP in 2007.

He told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that he was proud to have entered the field.

“Hairdressers are a wonderful breed,” Sassoon said. “You work one-on-one with another human being and the object is to make them feel so much better and to look at themselves with a twinkle in their eye. Work on their bone structure, the color, the cut, whatever, but when you’ve finished, you have an enormous sense of satisfaction.”

Married four times, Sassoon had four children with his second wife, Beverly, a sometime film and television actress, usually billed as Beverly Adams.

None of the children went into the family business. The eldest, Catya, an actress and model, died in her sleep on New Year’s Day 2002 of an accidental overdose.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.