the Insiders


July 1, 2009 5:00 PM

Eye, Media

Man in the News: Arnold Klein

On Wednesday, Us Weekly identified Arnold Klein, 64, as the biological father of Michael Jackson's two oldest children. But just who is Klein, aside from being a prominent cosmetic dermatologist to a man famous for doing too much at his...

On Wednesday, Us Weekly identified Arnold Klein, 64, as the biological father of Michael Jackson's two oldest children. But just who is Klein, aside from being a prominent cosmetic dermatologist to a man famous for doing too much at his cosmetic dermatologist's?

As it turns out, he's the cosmetic dermatologist to lots of other people who appear to have spent too much time and money in his offices. According to published reports, patients besides Jackson have included Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dolly Parton. Still, it's impossible to deny Klein was a pioneer in the world of fillers. "He was great at what he did," says Wendy Lewis, a cosmetic surgery consultant who wrote the book "Plastic Makes Perfect." "He was in Beverly Hills at the height of fillers and he was a leader." She laughs and adds, "I once heard him say, 'I invented lips.'"

Indeed, when Goldie Hawn filmed "The First Wives Club", playing a woman who gets too much collagen, it was Klein who flew into New York and administered her shots.

Carrie Fisher, in a February 1993 article on him for Madamoiselle, said: "He has gradually become an inevitable fact of my life, like therapy or drive-through."

Unlike most therapists, though, Klein is cantankerous and blunt, in a way that charms journalists and occasionally frustrates colleagues. In the Madamoiselle piece, Fisher asked him what he thought of soap. "I think of soap as the enemy," was the response. As for over the counter anti-aging creams: "Most of them have one major side effect: they deplete your bank account," Klein told her.

In 2004, Klein was sued by Irena Medavoy, the wife of Hollywood film producer Mike Medavoy. She claimed in court that Klein had treated her migraines with botox and that it actually exacerbated the problem. In addition to being an anti-wrinkle filler, botox has often been used for other purposes, among them sweaty armpits and crows' feet. Klein was by no means the only person advocating its use to fight headaches, but the trial was the first time the injectable came under attack before a jury, according to a report at the time from The New York Times.

Klein was eventually found not liable and his attorneys did a pretty good job of painting Medavoy as a hypochondriac. Still, the well connected doctor did not come off unscathed. During the proceedings, it was revealed Klein earned $100,000 a year from Allergan, the maker of botox. This raised questions about whether he'd gotten too "cozy" with the company. Klein also reportedly admitted that nearly a quarter of his practice -- up to $20,000 a day -- was earned administering the filler.

Earlier this year, Klein spoke at a prominent conference where, according to several sources, he made a boisterous speech lamenting the use of artificial fillers like Sculptra. His remarks from the podium included something to the effect of "how can you pump that crap into your patients," according to several people who were present at the time.

Says Neil Sadick, a prominent New York based cosmetic dermatologist and a professor at Cornell College: "He took a strong aggressive position that's not agreed upon by many dermatologists around the world who are using a more diverse portfolio of filling agents and have found them to be effective and safe."

But Klein doesn't appear to be terribly worried what his colleagues think of him. Last September, W Magazine ran an article about Klein's associate Sheri Feldman, and her new partner, Peter Kopelson. In it, Kopelson said, "Arnie Klein is a brilliant man. The timing was right for him with fillers like collagen and with botox. He made his money and his mark. Now it's our turn. As a pair, a team, we are both situated at a perfect point to take over the town."

Klein's response? "I appreciate Dr. Kopelson's comments and certainly respect him as a fellow dermatologist. But as a connoisseur and collector of art, I don't recall ever reading about any of Michelangelo's students suggesting he retire," he said.
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