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I just learned of the passing of my friend, Dr. Arnold Klein. You may not know him by name, but you know his work. Rarely, have so few people achieved the level of greatness and have changed the world around them, as he did.
–He has been called the “World’s Best Dermatologist” & “The Most Innovative and Famous Cosmetic Dermatologist”. –He was responsible for bringing Botox and Filler to the market for cosmetic purposes.
–He was responsible for bring the “Black Box Warning’ to Botox, and was critical of the misuse and overuse of Botox and Filler.
–He was one of the first doctors in LA to identify AIDs, at the start of the epidemic, in patients who were dying mysteriously of an as yet uncharacterized immuno-suppressive illness associated, in some cases, with a rare skin cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma
—He was a professor of the UCLA Dept of Medicine and Dermatology
—He founded AmfAR one night with Liz Taylor, in the living room of his home. This philanthropic organization has raised more money for AIDS research, 300 million dollars, than any other single organization worldwide.
At his Beverly Hills clinic, he was the personal physician to Liz Taylor, Cher, Carrie Fisher, Reba, Dolly Parton and virtually every high-profile celebrity in the world.
When Parton took the stage at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011, according to a Vanity Fair profile, she proclaimed, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap, and I owe it all to Dr. Arnie Klein.”
–He was Michael Jackson’s dermatologist and friend. Following Michael’s untimely death, Dr. Klein came under intense scrutiny with regard to the medical care that he provided the “King of Pop”. He was even rumored to be the biological father of at least one of Michael Jackson’s children.
I never got to meet “Arnie” in person, but we talked a number of times on the phone. The first time was more than 1 hour and I found him truly fascinating. He had an interest in Nonsurgical Bodysculpting, a field which I had begun to distinguish myself nationally with a number of Beauty Pageant clients. Like his work with Botox and Fillers, he saw nonsurgical methods of body-0contouring and body-shaping as the future of medical aesthetics. We tried to schedule an opportunity for me to come down to LA and visit his office for a few days and exchange ideas. I was specifically interested in the technique he developed and used for mid-face and lower jaw volumization and correction. And I could show him how to adapt his practice to include nonsurgical bodysculpting technology.
He was one of those people on my “Bucket List” to meet one day, but the scheduling did not work in our favor. Talking with him, however, was good enough. I went from studying his research and market contributions, to watching him being interviewed on television, to talking with him myself, one-on-one. I was fascinated by him. He was a hoot. He was the “Bad Boy” and “Ingenue” of Cosmetic Dermatology. And he was a “Good Guy”.
He was surprisingly frank and transparent. Through our phone conversations, he allowed me to pick his brain, about everything and all of his controversies. I had planned to write about the conversations in an article I was preparing for a local magazine, So6ix Magazine, but never got around to completing it.
I remember a couple of things that I asked him that I had been curious about.
I asked him if Michael Jackson’s Nose was real. He responded “Yes” it was real, it was not a prosthetic. It had been damaged by multiple plastic surgery procedures, and his job was to use dermal filler injections to try and reconstruct it and make it a better match for his facial dimensions. This was the reason behind the reported frequent visits to his office over the years. Arnie was not shy in his disdain for the surgeon who performed a number of Jackson’s surgeries.
I asked I’m if Michael Jackson really did suffer from vitiligo. A lot of people did not believe he did, as the change in his skin over time was very dramatic. Dr. Klein confirmed that Michael did in fact suffer from vitiligo, and he was the first of his doctors to diagnose the condition. From the conversation, I gathered that in the early stages, the changes in his skin were camouflaged and covered with makeup. When the areas of depigmentation were too large to camouflage, chemical bleaching was performed, which is a permanent.
Sadly, the final years of his life were marred with failing health, mismanagement of his wealth by his financial advisors,and legal battles. He lost just about everything to bankruptcy, including his gallery of art work including work by Picasso. Despite how Arnie’s story ended, no one can take away the mountain of knowledge he built or the distinct imprint that he made on American medicine, culture and lifestyle.
I was honored to know Dr. Arnold W Klein.