Jay Sebring…. Cutting to the Truth is a fascinating, family-made film about the swinging 60s celebrity hairstylist who revolutionized an industry and lived to the fullest. But, he wasn’t done yet when his existence was brutally cut short.
Imagine your death overshadowing your life. Who will ever forget that Elvis kicked it on the potty? Or that Steve Irwin was stung to oblivion by an enraged jellyfish? I’m sure they’d rather not be remembered that way. Even if you’re a fan of their work, those mental images stay with you. But being the victim of one of the most notorious murders in history is a real doozy. Now imagine being the family of that hapless soul.
Jay Sebring is best known for being slaughtered by the Manson Family on August 9, 1969. But to his family, he was a son, a brother, and an uncle. Directed and produced by Sebring’s nephew Anthony DiMaria, Cutting to the Truth gives the man’s dignity and life back to him. The lavishly detailed documentary does delve into the sordid details—how could it not?—but it’s from a completely fresh and focused angle. There are so many exaggerations and outright lies about Sebring floating around as “common knowledge,” and here we learn who he really was and what really happened in his last moments.
Although he came from humble beginnings in Michigan, Sebring was on the verge of worldwide success in the late sixties as the hairstylist to the stars in Hollywood. His salons were expanding from L.A. and Las Vegas to San Francisco with plans to open in London and Paris. Elektra Records hired him to design a new image to transform The Doors singer Jim Morrison into a rock ’n roll sex symbol, after seeing how Sebring created the iconic locks of studly celebs including Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and Bruce Lee.
Sebring not only influenced the times; he was of an era. Always one of the jet-set, Sebring was engaged to actress Sharon Tate—then she met director Roman Polanski and married him. But the former couple remained friends, and that is how Sebring wound up at the small party on Cielo Drive, where The Manson Family did their evil deeds. Headlines rattled the world – “Sharon Tate, 4 Others Murdered.” Jay Sebring was immediately reduced to a nameless victim.
Twelve years in the making and meticulously researched, Cutting to the Truth snaps a picture of Sebring from all angles. It does not shy away from the tawdry aspects of his life, nor does it gloss over his relationship and money troubles. The movie is well-shot, nicely edited, and moves along briskly—for the most part (it does start to drag a bit toward the end).
Among those interviewed in the documentary: Dennis Hopper, Nancy Sinatra, Quentin Tarantino, Quincy Jones, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka, Andy Williams, Vidal Sassoon, Max Baer Jr., Dominick Dunne, Fred Segal, Barbara Luna, forensic specialist Dr. Michael Baden, Debra Tate, Manson Prosecutor Stephen Kay, Bruce Lee’s widow Linda, Stuart Whitman, and Vic Damone. Additional cultural context is provided by several speakers in the know, and there’s also never-before-seen materials from Sebring’s personal collections and b-roll footage of his childhood roots, his Fairfax salon, and his supposedly haunted Beverly Hills residence (formerly owned by Jean Harlow).
Jay Sebring…. Cutting to the Truth makes you think and feel while packing a lot of “wow” moments though archival footage, new interviews, and commentary from the unique perspective of the filmmaker, Sebring’s nephew. It’s a must-see!
This incredible documentary hits On-Demand and Digital for Watch-At-Home on September 22, 2020, via AppleTV, Amazon, VUDU, GooglePlay, XBOX, hoopla, Fandango Now, Verizon, DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, Charter, and AT&T U-verse.