Jacqueline M. "Jackie" Zajdel, a popular Canton cosmetologist who was a maestra of the shag, beehive, French twist and teased hair for decades, died Aug. 24 of cancer at Mercy Medical Center. The longtime Highlandtown resident was 67.
Jacqueline Mary "Jackie" Zajdel was born in Baltimore and raised on Old North Point Road in Dundalk. She graduated in 1962 from Sparrows Point High School.
"When she got out of high school, hairstyling was what she wanted to do, and she worked in a couple of shops in Dundalk," said her brother, Edwin "Zip" Zajdel, who lives in Joppa.
Ms. Zajdel, who pronounced her name "Zaydel," was a graduate of the Marinello School of Beauty and studied hairstyling from 1973 to 1974 at L'Oreal in Paris.
While Ms. Zajdel was studying at the Marinello School of Beauty, she became close friends with another student, Harris Glenn Milstead, who later gained fame as Divine in the 1972 John Waters' film "Pink Flamingos." Ms. Zajdel played the character of Meyrl in "Pink Flamingos"; she was credited as Jackie Sidel.
"I was shocked to hear of her death. She was at my Christmas party last year and looked just great," said Mr. Waters.
"I had known Jackie in the downtown bohemia of the very early 1970s, when she had gotten to know Divine at Marinello's, which is the Harvard of Beehives," said Mr. Waters.
"She was a very clever, witty East Baltimore girl that would have been at home in Greenwich Village. She went way beyond that but stayed true to her East Baltimore roots. She could get along well with anyone," he said.
"Jackie was a genuine Baltimore character. We used to call her 'Zen Jackie' but she wasn't a Buddhist," said Pat Moran, the casting director who lives in Mount Vernon. "She was a very witty and funny gal and a major hair hopper. She could do all of the teased do's. That was her specialty when I first met her."
Ms. Zajdel's practiced the fine art of that quintessential Baltimore hairstyle, the beehive, at Kozmic Scizzors, her South Clinton Street salon.
She was also sought after for her expertise in not only creating beehive hairdos, but also shags and French twists.
"In addition to the Hondos, she did the shag. There was the monkey shag and the Cher shag. There was the long shag and the short shag and the starved shag. She always said, 'Make sure you ask or you will find yourself in a lot of trouble,'" said Carolyn Jones, a longtime friend and hairstylist who owns the Potpourri Beauty Salon in Severna Park.
"She also did punk rockers, and told Gina Shock of the Go-Go's that she would be noticed after she gave her a perm that was bigger than her," said Ms. Jones.
Marion Pfisterer, who lives in Highlandtown, got to know Ms. Zajdel through a friend.
"Back in the day, I used to wear a teased-up hairdo, but in recent years, she gave me a short haircut. She gave the best haircuts of anyone I've ever known," she said. "Once she knew you and your hair, she cut it so naturally where it fell, so when you washed and combed it, you had no problems."
Ms. Pfisterer described her friend as "kind and loving."
"She knew I was on a fixed income, so she didn't charge me the going rate and I appreciated that," she said.
Ms. Zajdel collected painted screens and supported artists who still practiced folk art.
She commissioned renowned Baltimore screen painter John Oktavec, who is a member of the famed Oktavec clan of screen painters, to create a scene that adorns the front door of her salon.
Ms. Zajdel was a well-known figure in both Canton and Fells Point, where she enjoyed attending various festivals.
She was a fan of oysters and steamed crabs, and liked dining at Obrycki's, Gunning's and the now-closed Haussner's, family members said.
She enjoyed boating, fishing on the Bird River, camping at Assateague and attending performances at the Patterson Theater.
"Jackie liked treasure hunting in Delaware and Maryland and traveling. We went to Florida, Cancun, the islands, and many other places," said her companion of 20 years, Paul Bird, a retired Halethorpe engineer.
Plans for services are incomplete.
In addition to her brother and companion, Ms. Zajdel is survived by two nephews and a niece.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun