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Jane McGarry Was My ’90s Hair Hero

And I didn't even know she was doing all the styling herself.
Jane McGarry, host of Good Morning Texas
You can find the longtime broadcast journalist Jane McGarry on WFAA's "Good Morning Texas" every weekday morning. Elizabeth Lavin

Growing up in Dallas, I watched a lot of local TV (we didn’t have cable), and certain heroes emerged from the screen. In no particular order, those heroes were Michael Jordan, Jacques Pépin, Whitney Houston, and Jane McGarry. In the ’90s, not only was McGarry the front half of JAM (Jane McGarry & Mike Snyder; co-anchors on Channel 5 for decades, they even had their own jingle), but she was the best dang journalist on my television, and I wanted to be her when I grew up. Shaped like a half-wheel of cheese (and with the bangs we all wanted), her hair was always perfect. Her locks reeked of success and business, so put together. 

As it turns out, she had to do all that styling herself. “I have always envied and never had the luxury of having a hairdresser or a makeup artist.” That’s right: ask our ’90s news anchor queen how many people it took to make her hair on point for every night of Dallas lead-story reporting from amuse-bouche shortages to six-Lexus pileups, and she’ll tell you it took one person—herself. “If anybody wants to know what to get me for Christmas, get me a hairdresser,” McGarry quips. 

She first graced our screens at age 26. “When I started in TV here, it was the ’80s. It was literally the Dallas era. It was Sue Ellen Ewing and all that type of thing. Hair was so structured in the ’80s; some of us looked like we had wigs.” The crunch of ’80s hair still haunts us all. “And for whatever reason—maybe it was research, I don’t know—but for whatever reason, everybody wore the same hairstyle every day.” It’s called branding, Jane! You have to have a signature lewk, so people know who they’re looking at every day on TV. Otherwise, the elderly will become confused and disoriented.

Noted: “Everybody wore the same hairstyle every day.”

“You didn’t vary,” McGarry says, “Mine was always a shoulder-length bob with a few bangs to cover my fivehead.” (If you’re unfamiliar, this is a scientific diagnosis for a forehead so large it has become a fivehead.) “There was just an expectation that it should always try to look the same. And if you have ever, for instance, been to Houston to try to cover a story outside at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and sweat is pouring down your face and your body and everything else, and your hair is flat as a pancake—It’s kind of hard to live up to that expectation. So going from that to now—just the fact that I can and do wear my hair straight one day, curled the next, up in a top knot sometimes—that’s completely different from what it used to be. And I think it just reflects the more authentic role that someone like me who’s on TV or in social media that you play. It’s a wonderful and welcome change.”

They were already asking you to report on Ross Perot’s candidacy for president while keeping a straight face—and then they asked you to try to keep your hair perfect the entire time, too? Your dedication to your craft knows no bounds, Jane McGarry.

This story originally appeared in the March issue of D Magazine. Write to [email protected].


Alice Laussade

Alice Laussade

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