J. Roy Helland | Resume | Photos

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J. Roy Helland



Roy grew up in Southern California, the son of a building contractor and a hairdresser. Feeling more comfortable in a beauty salon than a construction site, Roy followed his mother’s footsteps to beauty school and his California cosmetology license.

A child of the Saturday double, double feature at the movies, Roy also had aspirations to be a dancer/actor. However, as an adult he was too tall to be a dancer, and not talented enough to be an actor, so he and two friends became ‘drag’ performers. In the early Sixties they created a cabaret act called ‘Jack and the Giants’. Roy was resident costumer, hair dresser and make up artist, dancer and “straight” man. Michael Greer was the writer comedian; and Jim Bailey, who could out-sing Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland, was the ‘talent’. Successful, but with a limited audience, the trio disbanded. Roy went back to being a hairdresser and opened his own salon.

Supported by the business women who first met Roy in beauty school, the salon was soon fully booked. Successful but bored, Roy closed up shop after a few years to move to New York. He got a job in Kenneth’s wig salon but gravitated to the theater. A friend from California who was appearing in a Broadway play introduced Roy to the show’s hairdresser. Roy was invited to cover for the hairdresser. He was back in show business. He traveled with a touring company and then took up residence at Joe Papp’s New York Public Theater. Roy worked as hair and make up designer for 88 plays, among which was ‘A Doll’s House’, starring Liv Ullmann, and ‘Trelawny of the Welles’, featuring Meryl Streep in her first New York stage appearance.

Liv Ullmann took him to Europe to work on three films with her. And it was the meteoric rise of Meryl Streep to leading actress of stage and film which afforded her the control to bring Roy into the American film industry. And now, with 60 film credits to his name on IMDb, an Emmy Award for his work on HBO’s ‘Angels in America’, an Oscar & a Bafta for ‘The Iron Lady’, a how-to book entitled ‘Special Features’ published in 1985, Roy continues a career that has been guided by providence and generosity of friends.


Into The Woods Hair & Makeup: Ms. Streep Disney/Rob Marshall

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