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The Beehive Hairstyle

Remembering: The Beehive

Hairstyles come and go throughout the decades. Some make a mark in history and others fade into oblivion never to be thought of again. The bouffant surfaced in the late 1950s and started a new trend of styling that will forever be looked back upon with a smile and curiosity. Read more of this here

The beehive is also known as the B-52, for its similarity to the bulbous nose of the B-52 Stratofortress bomber.

The hairstyle reached its peak of popularity in the 1960s, and was especially popular in the United States and other Western countries. The beehive remains an enduring symbol of 1960s kitsch.

The style originated in the USA in 1958 as one of a variety of elaborately teased and lacquered versions of "big hair" that developed from earlier pageboy and bouffant styles. By the late 1960s the beehive became unfashionable, although it probably continued to influence later female hair styles.

The beehive's 79-year-old creator, the queen bee herself, still calls it her crowning achievement.

You see, it was all the curling, teasing and spraying that gave Margaret Vinci Heldt's hairstyles their different twist.

Challenged 37 years ago by a magazine to create something different, the Elmhurst, Illinois, hairdresser brushed off tradition and came up with the quintessential 'do: the beehive.

"This is the original box and hat that inspired me to create the beehive," Heldt proudly explained. "Yep, the queen of the beehive, that's me." 'The last great hairdo'

The beehive soon became all the buzz, making a splash both in the United States and abroad.

"It really was the last great hairdo we've seen in 30 years," said Jackie Summers of Modern Salon magazine. "It really was sort of the peak of hairdressing."

Part of its draw may have been the "heightening" factor.

"I always wanted to be like 5 (foot) 6 (inches), so it was probably at least four inches (above) my head," said Irene Bridges of the hive's allure.

Once out, women literally swarmed to the beauty parlor.

"Everybody wanted the beehive, even women with real, real short hair," Heldt said. "They looked more like anthills than a beehive then they got bigger and bigger and became hornets nests."

Still, all those layers of lacquer left onlookers a little puzzled.

"You'd see the same beehive on the same girl everyday and you'd wonder did she ever wash that? Was there anything crawling in there?" said John Fisher.

Unlike other '60s trends, Heldt's claim to fame never earned her much money. Still, at 79, the hairdresser says she does enjoy the recognition.

"It's kind of nice to know maybe in my own way I was able to give something to my profession that became a classic," she said. "It still has a touch of glamour doesn't it?

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