‘Hair Force One’: Intimate Yet Respectful  

Eivind Bjerke — a Norwegian immigrant who became the hairdresser of first ladies, royalty and Georgetown “who’s-whos” — tells his remarkable life story in “Hair Force One.” The new paperback memoir is filled with charming anecdotes that never cross the line to tell-all sensationalism.

In the book, Bjerke recounts his beginnings as a farm boy who milked cows, then emigrated to the U.S. as a 19-year-old.

Working at a Georgetown salon, his clients soon included President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughters, Luci Baines and Lynda Bird. Before long, he became the official White House hairdresser, styling Rosalynn Carter’s hair, as well as sometimes serving as President Jimmy Carter’s barber. He traveled around the world on Air Force One with the Carters, becoming one of Rosalynn’s good friends.

His roster of well-known clients also includes Norway’s Queen Sonja, Margaret Thatcher, Dianne Feinstein and Julia Child.

Other famous faces — and heads — like Estée Lauder (who wanted him to move to New York) and Pamela Harriman (who couldn’t help but charm him) became both clients and friends. He arranged for Queen Sonja to visit Harriman’s art-filled house, where she mingled with prominent figures in the art world.

His intimate yet respectful accounts of his White House visits; the narration of his Texas trip to style Luci Baines Johnson’s hair for her wedding; the heartwarming story of his lifelong love affair with his wife MaryAnn; tales of his early-morning visits to local TV stations; and recollections of his many clients with name recognition make the book an easy, enjoyable read.

A moving chapter describes his work with women with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Bjerke developed and demonstrated techniques involving wigs and alternatives to wigs like scarfs and turbans. His salon also refurbished wigs for reuse. In 1992, he was honored by Washingtonian magazine and the American Cancer Society for his work.

Bjerke describes in fascinating detail his trips with the Carters, including a magical gala evening at the Palace of Versailles and a visit to Camp David while the Camp David Accords were being hammered out. There are several “insider” looks at life aboard Air Force One and stories from his travels to Japan, Korea and the Middle East. As with his other anecdotes about notable clients, a touching description of Jimmy Carter’s mother offers a glimpse of her character without invading her privacy.

One of the most significant episodes in Bjerke’s life was traveling to Oslo with the Carters when President Carter accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. The book ends, fittingly, with his attendance at the Carters’ 75th wedding anniversary celebration in July of 2021. There, in Plains, Georgia, he mingled with clients and former clients including Luci Baines Johnson and Nancy Pelosi.

As he continues to perform hair magic (and sell copies of his book) at Eivind and Hans of Georgetown, his Wisconsin Avenue salon and spa, Bjerke, a born storyteller, is wondering what to write about next. 



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