There are smiles, Dr. Stanley Vogel knows, that have helped win Oscars, Emmys and elections—smiles that have a special meaning to the Beverly Hills dentist because his incisor jackets, bridgework and other dental creations made them possible.
Dr. Vogel is dentist to the stars. The prominent mouths inside which he has labored include those pictured below, not to mention Flip Wilson, Tom Jones, Vidal and Beverly Sassoon, Ted Ashley, chairman of Warner Bros., and Sen. John Tunney.
“I don’t know myself why I have a show business practice,” Vogel says, shaking his head. But actor George Maharis calls Vogel “the most imaginative, careful, considerate craftsman that I know,” and that sort of word of, ah, mouth gets around. It began in the late 1950s with Lana Turner, who was referred to him and left the chair a satisfied patient.
Vogel says that a few of his celebrity patients are “a pain in the ass”—such as the blond actress who refuses to wait and will only be worked on in one treatment room where the light is flattering. But he says that for the most part superstar tooth problems are no more difficult to deal with than ordinary ones.
“The nouveau riche Beverly Hills women stand in front of a mirror and literally design how they want their teeth to look,” he says. “But Candy Bergen? Easy. Joanna Pettet? Easy.”
Not so easy was the 1960 diagnosis he had to make under multimillion-dollar pressure when Liz Taylor fell ill filming Cleopatra. Dental complications were suspected. Vogel decided the suspicions were unfounded, announcing, “She has a perfect mouth.”
He sometimes argues with celebrities who want their front teeth jacketed. “The teeth should be in harmony with the rest of the face,” he says. “I don’t want these people to look as if they have a mouthful of Chiclets.” Vogel usually loses such arguments. “They think attractive teeth and jackets are synonymous.”
Vogel’s affinity for showbiz may stem from his brief career as a child actor on Broadway. A New Yorker whose father was a used car salesman and mother a millinery designer, Vogel attended Columbia University and its dental school while working summers as a postman, hod carrier, camp counselor and maitre d’. Navy service brought him to California and he stayed put.
He has remained a serious student of dentistry, attending seminars at both UCLA and USC and maintaining an affiliation with two L.A. hospitals. “The states of medicine, dentistry and nutrition are still crude,” he says. “But even now we’re working on transplants, and I envision the time when people will retain all of their teeth and when the material used in restoring teeth will have total tissue compatibility and the same longevity as the dental structure itself.” Vogel reports encouraging success with teeth implants as a substitute for dentures.
Unsurprisingly, a little of the show business life-style has rubbed off on him (like refusing to reveal his age, which appears to be under 50). With an annual income he will estimate only at between $50,000 and $150,000, Vogel enjoys the accoutrements expected of a divorced Hollywood bachelor. These include a Mercedes, a 42-foot powerboat, a $200,000 three-bedroom home with an ocean view, a five-day-a-week maid, a grand piano (on which he plays everything from classics to rock), a 40-gallon tank of tropical fish and a room devoted to ham radio.
Whether he is peering into a famous mouth or a conventional one, Vogel offers the same advice for healthy teeth: avoid sweets, see the dentist twice a year, use dental floss after meals and, most important, “pick your ancestors. Some people break all the rules and they’re just fine.”