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Sandy Bozzo - Barber to the Stars

Sandy Bozzo - Barber to the Stars

If you were a musician on Yonge Street in the 1960s, chances are, you had your suits made by Lou Myles and your hair cut by Sandy Bozzo. Together with his brother Frank, Sandy began cutting hair not long after arriving in Toronto as a 14-year-old from Cosenza, in Calabria, Italy. Born Santino and Ignazio, the brothers set up shop in 1958 at 413 Yonge. For the next 63 years, Frank and Sandy cut hair, always on Yonge Street—and, for 40 of those years, always on the east side of Yonge, between Gerrard and College. 

Sandy’s first experience with show business was the day two boys from Arkansas sauntered in, looking to get a wash and a haircut. “We told them, ‘We can cut, but we can’t sandybozzopaulankaafford a dryer,” Sandy recalls. “They said, ‘That’s okay, we’ll come back later with our own hair dryer. To my surprise, they did. That was Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm. Every Friday from then on, all the Hawks came for haircuts.”

With their shop’s close proximity to CBC’s McGill Studio, a lot of the Bozzo’s customers were regulars on the network’s TV programs. That’s how Sandy met Gordon Lightfoot. “I was doing the hair for The Tommy Hunter Show,” says Sandy, “and in 1965 one of the cast members sent Gord over to me. I’ve been his barber ever since!”

Being Lightfoot’s lifelong hair stylist means that Sandy is responsible for every look the legendary troubadour has sported over the decades: long, short, straight—even permed. “Yes, I used to give Gord his perms in the 1970s,” he admits. “Those perms took some time. That lasted for five or six years. Then he went back to straight and started wearing his hair longer and longer and longer.”

Sandy’s relationship with CBC programs expanded to Front Page Challenge and Juliette, the variety show that ran after hockey on Saturday nights. His clients grew to include literary figures, actors, journalists, broadcasters, athletes and politicians. A short list of his regular customers: Christopher Plummer, Gordon Sinclair, Raymond Burr, John Crosbie, Peter O’Toole, Knowlton Nash, John Candy, Patrick Watson, Fred Davis, Alan Thicke and Johnny Wayne, of comedy duo Wayne & Schuster. 

Most often, Sandy cut hair at CBC’s Studio 4, at 1141 Yonge, before tapings of Front Page Challenge and The Tommy Hunter Show (which he did for 25 years). But, on many occasions, the celebrities also like to drop into the shop for the personal touch.

checkmates bozzoMusicians who trusted their precious locks to Sandy over the years include Paul Anka, Robert Goulet, Jon and Lee & the Checkmates, Roy Kenner & the Associates and members of Lightfoot’s band, from Red Shea and John Stockfish to Terry Clements and longtime bassist Rick Haynes. Even Elvis Presley once received a haircut from Sandy, at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel in the late ’50s.

In 1998, Frank and Sandy moved their shop to 1378 Yonge, just south of St. Clair. It was certainly convenient for Lightfoot, whose Early Morning Productions office was just across the street. The “Sundown” singer could check his business mail and pop over for a quick trim before heading downtown for his daily workout at the health club.

If you visit the Bozzo salon today, you’ll see portraits of his famous customers on the wall. And don’t be surprised if you look in the mirror and see a veteran musician or TV star getting shaved right next to you. It could happen.

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