Obituary: Toni & Guy Co-founder Gaetano Mascolo

Gaetano Mascolo, one of the founders of Toni & Guy Inc, died suddenly Wednesday. He was 65.

Just four months after selling his global professional product company, Tigi Linea Inc., Gaetano Mascolo suffered a massive heart attack at his Dallas home on Wednesday and later died on the way to the hospital. His family, including his wife Flora, his four children and his business partners/brothers — Anthony, Toni, Bruno and Andrea — are in a state of shock, as is the professional beauty industry. Mascolo, known as Guy, was 65.

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“He was the best guy you could ever meet,” said a 24-year employee of the firm. “This is awful, an awful thing,” she said through tears. “Sometimes it takes someone to die to teach others how to live. Of all people, why Guy?”

Paul Finkelstein, chief executive officer of Regis Corp., said the Mascolo family are giants.

“They built a fantastic company…and accomplished what very, very few people have done. It is sad day for our industry,” said Finkelstein. Regis was one of the first retailers to sell Tigi products when it launched 20 years ago.

Bob Peel, president of Peels Beauty Supply, one of Tigi’s biggest distributors and who has done business with the Mascolos for 10 years, said, “He is one the key people in the industry and the industry will miss him.”

Mascolo became involved in the beauty world at an early age, as his father was a hairdresser. The Mascolos, who were raised in Scafarti, Italy, moved in the Fifties to the United Kingdom. In 1963, Mascolo and his brother Toni founded Toni & Guy, their salon company that grew into a global salon, education and professional product powerhouse. In 1983, Mascolo, along with his brother Bruno, moved to Dallas to expand their salon business into shopping malls and to also develop their hair care line, Tigi. Brothers Toni and Anthony Mascolo remained in the U.K., developing the education and creative side of the business. In 2001, the brothers separated their business, with Guy, Bruno and Anthony taking global ownership of Tigi and Toni & Guy USA, of which Guy was chairman. Toni Mascolo retained ownership of the Toni & Guy operation worldwide, excluding the U.S. Andrea Mascolo, a fifth Mascolo brother, joined the American arm of the family business in the Eighties, where he continues to work.

The Tigi Linea business, which generated about $250 million in sales, was sold to Unilever in January for more than $400 million. Mascolo, who has been described as a “humble, giving and sweet family man,” is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Guy Jr. and Zak, and two daughters from his second marriage, Emanuella and Zara.

“Guy Mascolo lent his name and immense talent for so many great years to the beauty industry,” said John Paul DeJoria, ceo and co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems. “May his family have comfort knowing that when one leaves their earthly body, they are never far, as they become an angel watching from above.”