Before turning to his career as a fashion designer in the 1950s, he acted on stage and screen under a variety of names, including Richard Selzer (his birth name), Dick Ellis, and eventually Richard Blackwell. His credits included Dead End, Catherine Was Great, and Little Tough Guy.
His work in fashion with top movie stars led him to host a radio show on KABC. In 1960, he created his first "10 Worst Dressed Women" list, which ultimately included hundreds of stars including Dolly Parton, Cher, and Britney Spears. He also wrote for several magazines and newspapers and published an autobiography From Rags to Bitches.
He is survived by his longtime partner, R.L. Spencer.