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Robert Louis Stevenson

Film hairstylist, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born on April 20, 1944 in Louisville, Kentucky. Stevenson was raised in South Central Los Angeles, California and was the oldest of twelve children. He attended Jordan High School and enrolled in Compton College in 1963. Stevenson was drafted into The United States Military in 1965 during the Vietnam War and was unable to complete his undergraduate education. In the military Stevenson spent two years in Korea and eleven months in Oklahoma. Following his tour of duty, he trained at Flavio School of Beauty.

Stevenson began his hairstyling career in 1971 working on the NBC television series McMillan and Wife. In 1976, Stevenson began working as Richard Pryor’s hairstylist for the film Car Wash, and he continued as Pryor’s hairstylist for the films Greased Lightning and Which Way Is Up?. Stevenson served as head of the hair department on several other films and television shows in the late 1970s and 1980s, including The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Toy and Superman III. In 1985, Stevenson was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for the Miniseries, The Atlanta Child Murders, and he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for The Jesse Owens Story that same year. In 1988, he worked as head of the hair department on Eddie Murphy’s film, Coming to America. In 1993, Stevenson was nominated again for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Special for The Jacksons: An American Dream. Stevenson has worked personally with Lawrence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. He also served as Samuel L. Jackson’s hairstylist on several films including 1408, Home of the Brave, Black Snake Moan, Snakes on a Plane, Freedomland, XXX: State of the Union, The Man, Coach Carter, In My Country, S.W.A.T. , Basic, Formula 51, Changing Lanes, Unbreakable, Shaft, Rules of Engagement, The Negotiator, Eve’s Bayou, Jackie Brown and The Long Kiss Good Night. In addition, Stevenson has been a department head or supervising hairstylist on many memorable films including Jarhead, Three Kings, Amistad, Waiting to Exhale, Dangerous Minds, What’s Love Got to Do With It? , Sister Act, The Color Purple, Flashdanceand Willie Dynamite.

Stevenson has been married for thirty years to film publicist Rosalind Stevenson. They have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Robert Stevenson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 7, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.197

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/7/2007

Last Name

Stevenson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Louis

Occupation
Schools

David Starr Jordan High School

Edwin Markham Junior High School

Utah Street Elementary School

El Camino College Compton Center

102nd Street School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Louisville

HM ID

STE10

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Cape Town, South Africa

Favorite Quote

Matter Of Fact.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/20/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Film hairstylist Robert Louis Stevenson (1944 - ) was an Emmy award-winning Hollywood hairstylist who worked exclusively with Richard Pryor and Samuel L. Jackson. His film credits include, "A Time to Kill," "Which Way Is Up?" "Jackie Brown," and, "Coming to America."

Employment

Universal Studios

Myers Drum Company

Ace Hot Button Hole Company

Ted Levine Drum Company

Los Angeles International Airport

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Louis Stevenson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's U.S. Navy career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his mother's discipline

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers moving to Watts in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's career, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Robert Louis Stevenson lists his surviving relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's career, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers 102nd Street School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls his peers at David Starr Jordan High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his first jobs

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his father's work ethic

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his father's discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers being taken in by his neighbors

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the start of his career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers becoming a film hairstylist

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the sights and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the Jordan Downs projects in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his father's alcoholism

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls reconciling with his father

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers Compton College in Compton, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls his experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the racism in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson reflects upon his U.S. military service

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson reflects upon the draft

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his duties in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls his early interest in hairstyling

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls his decision to become a hairstylist

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers working as a cook

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers opening a hair salon

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his first marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson recalls the start of his career at Universal Studios

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the difference between commercial and studio hairstyling

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his interview at Universal Studios

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his work schedule as a studio hairstylist

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the demographics of Hollywood hairstylists

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his reception at Universal Studios

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his coworker's advice

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes the Hollywood film industry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about the benefits of union membership

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his tools as a film hairstylist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about his daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers meeting Rosalyn Woodruff Stevenson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers marrying Rosalyn Woodruff Stevenson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his wife's career

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his advice to aspiring film hairstylists

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about black face and segregation in Hollywood

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers working with Richard Pryor

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers Redd Foxx

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about his awards

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Louis Stevenson remembers his celebrity clients

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Louis Stevenson talks about his work philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his styling techniques for wigs

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson describes his advice to young people

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert Louis Stevenson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

11$8

DATitle
Robert Louis Stevenson remembers becoming a film hairstylist
Robert Louis Stevenson describes his work schedule as a studio hairstylist
Transcript
And my daughter [Kendra Stevenson Ruffin] was born, and then I started--after I got out of the beauty college I started a salon. And then I heard it--then this is when affirmative action and all this stuff was going--then I heard when I was in my shop, I heard about studios on the radio, that they were looking for hairdressers, makeup people, prop people, and I just took off (laughter). I went down, and the office was the producer's building, which was in the dark building on La Cienega [Boulevard], right off of La Cienega and 3rd [Street], right there. And I went in there and filled out an application for a props and hair. I put the hair first, but I put props and anything else I thought, maybe, wardrobe; I think I put a few things, and, and I went away. I mean I just put it in. I figured well, they, maybe they might call or whatever. And a friend of mine, a friend of mine, one of my good friends I was in the [U.S. military] service with, said his sister was trying to get into the studios and that this guy named Charles Hack [ph.] was the head of employee's relations. And he was looking for blacks that, that were qualified to try to get in to the studio. So I said, "Give me his number," you know, and I called him. Then he said, "Well, look, do you have the application in?" I said, "Yeah, I just put it in down at the dark building." He said, "Well, come over and see me." He was at Universal [Universal Studios Inc.]. I went over and seen him, told him what I did. He said, "Well, we want you to go in as a hairdresser." And I said yeah, that's what, you know, that's what I do. So, and the rest is history, man.$$Okay.$$Yeah, I went down. They gave me an interview. I--in '69 [1969], I went over to Universal, got interviewed. They said that you know, it wasn't any work then. I think it was everybody was on hiatus, but he said--$Now the hairstylist is on call at all times, always off the, off the camera.$$I mean it all depends. I mean the studio hairstylist basically, if you, if you're on a show, then you get a call every day, you know, a call. But if you're just in the union [Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild], and you, you know, it's day work. It's not a, it's, you know, it's not like going to your salon every day, you know. Every day is a different day, you know. But if you're fortunate enough or blessed enough to get, you know, on a show, then you work every day, as long as the show is running. And then you also--they can, you know, other people hire you to help them out on shows. So that's how that, that kind of work--it's, it's more of, of a, a union hall thing, you know. You know, you go to call the union, you know, you get a person, you know. But if you, you're good and you get shows, then you never work, or producers call you and you ain't got to worry about it, or people hire you because they know who you are or what, what you can do, or if you, you know, or somebody said something about you, and then they, they said okay, well, let's get him or get her, you know. That's how it works, you know. But it's not like, it's, it's not a job like, you know, Valentino or Beverly Hills [California]. You know, he goes in every day. He got his clientele. He knows what he's gonna do. He know he's gonna do eight perms a day or you know, color today, and he got five people here, and he gonna do that, and he home, he's going home at lunch. You know, he said I'm, I'm gonna be working to twelve [o'clock], and then I'm finished. See, but Hollywood [Los Angeles, California], you work sunup to sundown in all kind of conditions. It's not the same. It's, it's, it's not glamorous. Everybody think it's glamorous. It's not glamorous. It's a job, and it's hard job. I mean, of course, there's benefits, you know. You get paid well, you know. But you also, you sacrifice a lot of stuff. I mean, you, you know, your, your, your family and, and, you know, and your health and everything else 'cause working in all kind of conditions, and all kind of hours, and you know, working nights, and working in the heat, you know, working in other countries, and you know, packing and unpacking. And it's a whole, it's a gypsy life. It's a gypsy life, and you have to want to do that, you know. It's not for everybody. Everybody say oh, I want to work. No, you don't. You know, you might, until you get that first twelve-hour day or thirteen-hour, or fourteen-hour day, then you--it ain't the same, you know. It ain't like you work in a salon, we're gonna do five heads a day, then girl, we're going to the party or guy we're going to the party. Ain't--forget that (laughter); there ain't no party (laughter). The only party you're going to is the hotel to get in the bed so you can get up the next morning at five o'clock. See what I mean?