It was the volunteer fireman's vanity that made all the difference.

Still in his early twenties, he combed through medical journals seeking a cure for his impending baldness.Brushing aside naysayers, he developed lotions and massages that he claimed could restore hair, and opened up a scalp treatment center. People rushed for the supposed cure, and soon local beauty parlors stocked the lotions, too. Capitalizing on his growing network of retailers and customers, he expanded with a line of shampoos. When he died in 1965, John H. Breck Sr. was America's leading shampoo maker. He was also bald.