Anthony Mancinelli, the world’s oldest barber of New York, died on September 19 at 108 years old, after 96 years of cutting hair.
The Italian immigrant worked as a barber from age 12 until this past July in and around Newburgh, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City. He made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2018 for being the oldest practicing barber.
When Mancinelli began cutting hair in 1923, he charged 25 cents for his services. Leading up to his death, he worked at Fantastic Cuts in New Windsor, where he charged $19 for a haircut.
He attended grade school in Newburgh, but never graduated. There was no one part of cutting hair he’d call his favorite, his son said, but he “just loved his job.”
Until he was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019. About six weeks before his death, Mancinelli didn’t feel well and needed to rest — though he had no plans to quit working. He was getting tired and weak, his son said, but planned to return to work at some point.
The longer he kept working, the more famous he got,” said Jane Dinezza, the owner of Fantastic Cuts in New Windsor, the last salon where Mancinelli worked.
Over time, she said in a phone interview, she became less of his boss and more of a liaison to media outlets, as reporters started showing up to interview him, seating him in his own barber chair. “He was spending more time in the chair than his customers,” Dinezza said.
Instead of paying the usual $20 for a haircut, many customers would insist on giving him up to $100 a cut, she said. And he was invited to so many events, she said, “I started saying, ‘No, I’m sorry, it’s just too much hoopla for him — you know, he’s not the pope.’”
An obituary published by the funeral home says he outlived his wife of 69 years, seven siblings and one of his two sons. His son revealed that he was inducted into the Barber Museum Hall of Fame in Ohio one week before his death.
Mancinelli’s wife passed away 15 years ago, and his other son died 36 years ago, Robert Mancinelli said. The barber continued to cut hair for his other relatives.
Anthony Mancinelli was born on March 2, 1911, near Naples, Italy, and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 8, joining relatives in Newburgh, just north of Windsor. He began helping out in barbershops when he was 11 and started working as a barber when he was 12. He dropped out of high school to cut hair full time.
In 1930, he opened Anthony’s Barbershop in Newburgh and kept it going for 40 years, before selling the business and going to work at other shops.