Margaret Vinci Heldt, Creator Of Iconic Beehive Hairdo, Dies At 98

Margaret Vinci Heldt, a famed Chicago beautician, celebrity hairstylist, National Coiffure champion, and the creator of the iconic beehive hairdo, has died. She was 98-years-old.

Though Heldt was known for a lot of things, especially in the beauty world, she was most well know as the creator of the beehive — a hairdo that has graced red carpets and pop culture since its inception. Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Beyonce, and even Marge Simpson, have all been known to sport the beehive from time to time — some more often than others. The birth of the classic beehive hairdo came about in 1960, when Margaret — then the owner of Margaret Vinci Coiffures in Chicago, which operated in the 1950s and 1960s — was approached by a beauty magazine called Modern Beauty Shop and asked to create a new hairdo that was fresh and exciting, that they could feature.

Inspired by her favorite fez hat — a small, black velvet hat, shaped like a round bump and decorated with small bumblebee ornaments — Margaret snuck down into her family room one night, after the rest of the family had gone to sleep, put on some music, and got to work creating the now-famous beehive hairdo, reports the Guardian. The magazine described the hairdo as a “tall wraparound crown, creating a circular silhouette with high-rise accents.”

One of Heldt’s protegees, Mario Tricoci, founder of Mario Tricoci hair salons and Mario Tricoci University, spoke highly of the beehive creator after her passing.

“Not only was she a Chicago icon, she certainly had a large influence on young hairdressers since 1956. She was a master hairdresser at the Midwest Beauty Show… lending her knowledge to anyone that wanted to be inspired.”

The Chicago History Museum even has an exhibit dedicated to Heldt, where, along with photos and stories, visitors can even see the famed mannequin head that she had used most of her life — still styled with a perfectly coiffed beehive hairdo.

Margaret Vinci grew up in Elmhurst, Illinois, the daughter of Sicilian immigrants who barely spoke English. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Carlene Ziegler, Margaret’s daughter, said that though her parents didn’t understand much about their daughter’s passion for hair, they supported her nonetheless.

“She decided she wanted to be a hairdresser when she was about 5. [Her parents] got her scissors and combs and curlers and let her do the neighbors’ hair.”

After graduating high school, the future creator of the beehive went on to Columbia Beauty School, where she graduated in 1938. In 1954, she won a National Hairdresser of the Year Competition, as well as countless other competitions throughout the years. During the years of her salon’s operation, Heldt became well known for her stylist abilities, and was often sought out by celebrities and “social ladies,” including Carol Channing, who would pay the beehive creator a visit any time she was in town doing a show.

During one of these visits, Channing paid Heldt back for all the years of friendship and immaculate hairdos. Channing was in town doing a performance of Hello Dolly! and it just so happened that Heldt was scheduled to also play the role of Dolly Levi in a performance at the Midwest Beauty trade show. Carol Channing lent Margaret one of her own costumes so that the beehive creator could parade around the beauty trade show in true celebrity style.

Among other accolades the beehive creator earned was a scholarship in her name set up by the trade group Cosmetologists Chicago for creativity in hairdressing.

Margaret Vinici Heldt, the creator of the famed beehive hairdo, is survived by her children, daughter Carlene Ziegler, and son William; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Visitation and a funeral mass are scheduled for this week in Elmhurst, Illinois, Heldt’s hometown.

[AP Photo/Caryn Rousseau]

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