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Black Tie International
Tribute to Bob Kelly


Tribute to a Legend; Bob Kelly Wig Maker and Make-Up Artist to the Stars


Bob Kelly

Bob Kelly



New York City. May 15th, 2009.  After sixty years, Bob Kelly is still working every day at the age of 85 at the second oldest profession in the world; wig making.  Bob has designed and made wigs for more Broadway shows and movies around the world than he can count. He’s been in business since 1958. Bob started a theatrical cosmetic company in 1968. His most recent project is Shrek, the Broadway Show. Bob has worked with Saturday Night Live since its inception in 1976.  He even did the hair and make-up for the Beatles first US performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s.


Visiting his shop on West 46th Street in the heart of Time’s Square’s Theatre district, I found myself wishing the old cliché, “If these walls could talk.”  Never could anyone imagine the true artistry of wig making without visiting legendary Bob Kelly, the east coast king of cosmetic and wig design. I felt as if I had stepped back in time to a place that had stayed frozen in space. My head was spinning just reading the famous names on the wooden blocks custom made for wig sizing. There was Heidi Klum, Seal, Will Farrell, many casts of Broadway shows, film stars (Linda Blair) from The Exorcist to name a few. Indeed, Bob’s accomplishments would take up this entire page. I asked Bob what his favorite task was, he replied, “South Pacific,” but it was a difficult choice.


Daughter, make-up artist Barbara Kelly was more than enthusiastic about her fathers shop. Barbara opened drawer after drawer of hair samples from humans, yaks, short hair, red hair, green hair, long hair, toupees, and just about any thing you allow your imagination about hair to see…it was all there…like a bank for hair. The shop is a close knit family. Barbara introduced me to Bill Urban and Maria who have worked with her father for about 50 years. Employees shared memories about all the famous people who have had their creations made at Bob Kelly’s.


Some of Bob’s other credits are; Tommy, West Side Story, The Little Mermaid, Cats, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, Pippin’, Camelot, Beauty and the Beast , A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, Chicago, 42nd Street, Carousel, Legally Blonde, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and many more.  Bob even designed the wig that Tina Faye wore on Saturday Night Live when she had the challenge of impersonating Sara Palin. The list of credits is vast.


Bob Kelly, you are a genius and a legend. My hat or should I say wig is off to you!


Story and Photo by Sara Herbert-Galloway

To view more pictures please visit:  


We are making a collection of memorabilia and stories in Bob Kelly’s honor. If you have anything you would like to share with Bob and his daughter Barbara please send it to



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