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A look at the lustrous locks cut and styled by Brooklyn barber Jack Skolnick

2019-06-16

Barber Jack Skolnick is pictured at his barbershop on Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn, New York on Friday. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

Brighton Beach barber Jack Skolnick had plenty of interesting and colorful customers since he began cutting hair professionally in 1964.

For several years, beginning in 1967, Skolnick regularly cut the hair of legendary songwriter and singer Neil Sedaka, a longtime Brighton Beach resident who was by then 28 and already a well-known musical commodity, having recorded, “Oh! Carol,” which reached #9 on the U.S. charts, eight years earlier.

Singer Neil Sedaka is pictured seated at a piano in 1960.
Singer Neil Sedaka is pictured seated at a piano in 1960. (Bettmann/Bettmann Archive)

“He was a very, very nice guy, very pleasant to talk to,” recalled Skolnick, who added that his own wife and his daughters regularly sat on nearby Brighton Beach during the summer months with Sedaka’s wife, Leba Diamond, and the Sedakas’ young kids.

Although he never cut the hair of another neighborhood musical icon, Neil Diamond, who graduated from nearby Abraham Lincoln High School, as did Sedaka and lived only a scissor’s throw from his soon-to-be-closed barbershop, Skolnick regularly gave haircuts to Diamond’s dad, Kieve Diamond, who ran a haberdashery on Brighton Beach Ave.

Skolnick used to snip the locks he hair of Hollywood director Darren Aronofsky, who grew up in nearby Manhattan Beach. “I gave him his first haircut,” Skolnick noted with a chuckle, adding that he still regularly cuts the hair of Aronofsky’s dad, Abe.

Director Darren Aronofsky, winner of Best Director for 'Black Swan,' accepts award onstage during the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on Feb. 26, 2011 in Santa Monica, California.
Director Darren Aronofsky, winner of Best Director for 'Black Swan,' accepts award onstage during the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on Feb. 26, 2011 in Santa Monica, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

In the 1960s, Skolnick cut the hair of legendary defense attorney and “hanging judge” Samuel Leibowitz, who later sat on the Brooklyn Supreme Court as a judge. Leibowitz was one of the country’s most famous defense lawyers, known for his successful post-conviction defense of the so-called Scottsboro Boys, an infamous case in which nine black boys from Alabama were wrongly convicted of raping two white women; he also successfully defended gangster Al Capone on at least one occasion. After he was elevated to the bench, Leibowitz became known for his unrepentant support of the death penalty, which he meted out with unusual relish to murders convicted before him.

Judge Samuel Leibowitz of Kings County Court is pictured in 1952.
Judge Samuel Leibowitz of Kings County Court is pictured in 1952.

Another customer was Sid Loberfeld, an early radio announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers who went on to become a lawyer, baseball player rep and close friend of the New York Mets baseball organization.

He also cut the hair of Hy Cohen, former owner of the famous Brighton Beach Baths, a magnificent private breach club located parallel to the boardwalk on one side and across the street from Skolnick’s current barbershop on the other side. The defunct beach club is now a luxury coop.

Lou Eisenberg became a $5 million lottery winner in 1981, then the largest New York lottery payout in history and he, too, was a regular. A former light bulb changer, Eisenberg was 53-years-old at the time he hit it big and his rags-to-riches tale charmed much of the nation. It has recently been reported that Eisenberg who is now 91, lives in a Florida trailer park, after having long ago blown all of his winnings.