Leg­endary stylist passes

Trib­utes of flow­ers pour in for Judi Cooper-Sealy after news of her death

The Chatham Daily News - - LIFE - AD­INA BRESGE

TORONTO — Over her four decades as a hair and wig de­signer, Judi Cooper-Sealy coiffed all kinds of char­ac­ters on screen — a blond bee­hive fit for Queen Lat­i­fah in Hair­spray, Kate Beck­in­sale’s brown bob in the 2009 Alaska-set thriller Whi­te­out, and braided, bowl-cut and bouf­fant hair­dos as wacky as Martin Short’s many im­pres­sions.

As news spread of the 77-yearold’s death in mid-De­cem­ber after a bat­tle with de­men­tia, Coop­erSealy’s hus­band said con­do­lences have been pour­ing in from the co­me­di­ans she worked with dur­ing her time at SCTV.

Joe Sealy said he woke up Wed­nes­day morn­ing to find a bou­quet of white roses from Eu­gene Levy on his doorstep, one of many fra­grant trib­utes that have turned the Toronto home he shared with his wife of more than 45 years into “a flower shop.”

Sealy said he also re­ceived an email from Short, who worked with Cooper-Sealy through­out his ca­reer, mourn­ing the loss of her cre­ativ­ity and com­pany on set.

Kids in the Hall alumni Scott Thomp­son and Dave Fo­ley, who also col­lab­o­rated with Coop­erSealy, shared their sym­pa­thies on Twit­ter, say­ing her hair cre­ations were es­sen­tial to the show’s comedic process.

“She was truly the great­est hair artist I’ve ever worked with,” Thomp­son said. “Quite often we wouldn’t know how we were go­ing to play a char­ac­ter un­til the hair.”

After youth­ful stints as a bio­chemist, model and al­ter­na­tivemagazine ed­i­tor, the Hal­i­fax, N.S.-raised hair stylist de­cided to sharpen her scis­sors in her home­town, Sealy said, briefly liv­ing in Ghana to pick up new tech­niques.

In the mid-1970s, he and Coop­erSealy moved to Toronto so she could work on a show with broad­caster Peter Gzowski, where she im­pressed John Candy with her styling skills and was asked to join SCTV.

Cos­tume de­signer Juul Haalmeyer, who worked with Cooper-Sealy on the com­edy se­ries, said Cooper-Sealy was a hair “ma­gi­cian” who would comb through hun­dreds of wigs in or­der to find the ’do that brought a char­ac­ter to life, some­times stitch­ing two or three to­gether.

Haalmeyer said Cooper-Sealy was so close to many of the cast mem­bers, many of them used her as their per­sonal hair­dresser.

“You could hear them laugh miles away while they were try­ing out dif­fer­ent (wigs),” he said. “Some of them even wet their pants while they were try­ing to fig­ure out a char­ac­ter.”

Cooper-Sealey earned praise for her re­viv­ing pe­riod hair­dos in block­buster mu­si­cals Hair­spray and Chicago, win­ning her sec­ond Emmy in 2011 for her work on The Kennedys minis­eries. Her first Emmy was for My Mother Was Never a Kid, a 1980s after-school spe­cial.

Sealy said his wife would often work 18-hour days to make sure every hair was in place be­fore the crew started shoot­ing, do­ing ex­ten­sive re­search to cre­ate wigs in keep­ing with the set­ting. But be­yond her work ethic, he said it’s Cooper-Sealy’s kind­ness that will be missed by those who had the plea­sure of sit­ting in her chair.

“She was very loved, you know. Peo­ple just grav­i­tated to her,” he said. “She was an artist in her own ef­fect.”


Judi Cooper-Sealy, who spent four decades as a wig and hair de­signer for movies and TV shows, died in De­cem­ber at age 77 after a bat­tle with de­men­tia.

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