Bill Leslie: My hairy history

Bill Leslie gives us a peek at what his hair looked like in his childhood and teenage years.

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Bill Leslie's bushy coronavirus look

It sure felt good to get a haircut this week! My wife Cindy summed it up best: “Bill, you were getting awfully bushy in the back!”

I’ve had that problem most of my life. My hair is thick, curly and unruly.

Cindy Moody has clipped my hair for 40 years. She worked me in on her busy schedule this week at Haircutters of Raleigh near North Hills. It had been nine weeks since our last appointment.

Bill Leslie and his hair stylist

On social media I’ve enjoyed watching my WRAL friends post “before and after pictures” of their long-awaited haircuts with the easing of pandemic restrictions.

I thought it would be fun to do the same and to look back at how my hair has changed over the years. I’m calling this My Hairy History.

I had very little hair at birth in Morganton at Grace Hospital. I did show a few sprigs of hair for my first photo session at 18 months old.

Bill Leslie at 18 months

Growing up I was mostly a buzz-cut boy. My short hair was a bright blonde when I went on my first Easter egg hunt at Grace Episcopal Church at age six.

Bill Leslie childhood

Short hair was perfect for the warm and humid summers. I spent a lot of time outside playing sports with friends and having fun with my model trucks and cars.

Bill Leslie playing as a child

By fourth grade my hair was getting a little darker but it was still short.

Bill Leslie childhood

I remember asking my father what to tell the barber on my first haircut trip alone. Daddy said: “Just remember two letters – ‘G.I.’ The barber will know what to do!” That may have been the shortest haircut ever!

In high school my hair got a little longer but not outrageous. I worked two jobs and I didn’t want a lack of good grooming to get in my way of my employment potential.

Bill Leslie

During and shortly after college at UNC I let my long locks flow! I had finally discovered a hairdryer works wonders on thick and curly hair.

Bill Leslie in college

I started working in radio and most everyone in the business had long hair. I can remember going three months without a haircut. My mother called me “the shaggy dog of the family!”

College-age Bill Leslie

I cleaned up my act when I got into television. I cut my hair and ditched the mustache. My friends called me the “coiffed canoeist” when I worked as WRAL-TV’s first full-time environmental reporter.

Bill Leslie canoeing

Years later on the anchor desk with Kelcey Carlson I earned the nickname “Fluffy.” That wasn’t exactly a compliment.

Bill Leslie and Kelcey Carlson

A grooming consultant encouraged me to get a shorter cut and use a hair wax called Bed Head. That’s the way I ended my career next to Renee Chou.

Bill Leslie and Renee Chou

I despised my curly hair growing up but now I like it and I love to see it with my granddaughters.

I’m grateful for a good head of hair and the wonderful woman who cuts it! I left Cindy Moody an extra tip this week. I hope you do the same for your hair stylist.


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