Still Cast Cutting
by Mark Eades
If you’ve walked around the circle in the city of Orange, you might have noticed the Plaza Barbers barbershop. You may have even walked in, only to find that you really can’t get a haircut there—unless, of course, you know the barbers.
People who worked at Disneyland or the Disneyland Hotel are most likely to know and remember Carlos Gallegos, who worked at the Disneyland Hotel’s barbershop back in the 1960s and early 1970s. Cutting hair at the next chair is a man Carlos first hired as a barber, Gary Dye.
Eventually, Gary moved over to Disneyland and worked as one of the barbers at the “Cast Cutters” backstage styling salon at Walt Disney’s original theme park from 1975 to 2002.
“I work about one and three quarters days a week now,” Gary said while trimming the locks of former Cast Member Ed Romero. Typically there on Tuesday afternoons and all day Wednesdays, the semi-retired Dye continues to cut the hair of many former Cast Members—and then by appointment only.
In fact those are about the only people whose hair he will cut, so don’t even try to see if he will cut yours—unless, of course, he remembers you. “It’s really about keeping contact with my Disney family,” he said.
Many former Disneylanders, from hourlies to management, still have their hair cut by Gary. You may find Jim or John Cora there from time to time, along with many other former managers, supervisors and other faces familiar to Disneyland alumni.
Gary is definitely a guy who values long-time relationships. He’s been married to the same woman—his actual girl next door—for more than 50 years. He first met her when she was nine. He admits he didn’t fall for her at first. “I was too cool to fall in love with a nine-year-old.” But a few years later, he saw her washing her dad’s car and thought “Whoa!” That was all it took, and in due time he married Lee Ellen.
They raised one son and now are raising several horses Gary says she spends a lot of time with. “I help her with the horses,” Gary concedes.
His relationships with many Disneyland Alumni and current Cast Members go way back as well. Gary still owns a 1957 Ford Ranchero with a racing engine in it that was built by former Disneyland Cast Member Dave Burkhart.
Like many long-time barbers, Gary remembers many of his customers by their hair. A few years ago, a man came in and told him he was a former Disneyland Cast Member. Gary had some time and told him to take a seat in the chair.
“I hadn’t cut his hair in over 20 years and he said, ‘I’ll have one just like the last one’—and I remembered it.” Gary said. He also remembered the man’s name. “It was Thom, not Tom, Morris.”
In honor of the 60th anniversary year of Disneyland in 2015, the Disneyland Alumni Club is reaching out to former employees, whether retired or younger, who may not be aware of the organization. The Club was started in 1983 by Disneyland executives Van France and Dick Nunis as a way to help Cast Members stay in touch after moving on to other careers. Is that you? If so and you'd like to take part in the Club's private celebration next August—or participate in their many other activities and benefits, please visit www.disneylandalumni.org and join today.
Here are some previous stories about Disneyland Alumni:
This article and some photographs are copyright 2015 by Mark Eades, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Photographs supplied by subjects are used by permission, all rights reserved.