Leslie Kenton

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Leslie Kenton (June 24, 1941 – November 13, 2016) was an American-born writer, journalist and entrepreneur who specialised in health and beauty. She was the daughter of the jazz orchestra leader Stan Kenton.

Early life and paternal relations[edit]

Kenton was born in Los Angeles to Stan and Violet Kenton (née Peters), the only child from the musician's first marriage.[1] Her father's career was in its early stages when she was born and he was constantly on the road. Kenton's early childhood was spent with her maternal grandmother, a strict taskmaster who reputedly had her granddaughter potty trained by the time she was six months old and struck her if she did not sit straight. "I learned that the appropriate relationship to my body was to punish it", Leslie Kenton later wrote. Reunited with her parents at 3​12, she lived with them in the Hollywood Hills. Unacquainted with other children, she was often with her father's band and spent time with Nat King Cole and Ronald Reagan.[2]

Kenton later wrote in her book Love Affair (2010) that an incestuous affair with her father began with her rape at his hands in 1952 when she was 11 and he was drunk. She said the relationship became consensual, and continued for two or three years.[3][4] At the time, she was spending school term time with her mother, who had remarried, and school vacations with her father. After a suicide attempt at 13, she was sent to a sanatorium.[2] By the time her memoir was published, Kenton saw her father as a victim himself because of his own severe maternal mistreatment.[3] In her account of her relationship with her father, she relates that she challenged him about her experience in 1972, seven years before he died, when he was in London to record for the BBC: "He was a big man and he physically crumpled". He told her: "All I can say is that I'm so sorry. At that part of my life, I didn't know what was going on".[1]

Relationships and children[edit]

Leslie Kenton was a philosophy undergraduate at Stanford University,[5] when she fell pregnant at 18. Advised by her father to have the baby adopted or marry, she did the latter, giving birth to her eldest son Branton, now a businessman; her marriage to his father Peter Dau, then a medical student, ended after three years. She worked as a model in New York City during this time.[6]

Other than Branton, Kenton had three other children, each from later relationships with three men. Susannah was conceived after a one-night stand with an old boyfriend, Barry Comden, who later married Doris Day,[7] leading to an estrangement from her father which lasted for some years.[8] Jesse is a plastic surgeon, from a marriage to journalist Dan Smith, and Aaron, now a film-maker, is from a relationship with friend Paul Cox.[3][7] "Actually, the fathers of my children have not necessarily been the most important men in my life", she commented in 2007.[7]


Kenton spent much of her life in the United Kingdom, moving to London after a short period living in Paris. She began a career in journalism during the late-1960s, writing initially for The Economist and freelance for International Management magazine. "I wrote about the heavy lifting gear industry, the aluminium industry, the airline industry", she once commented.[6][9] She was appointed as health and beauty editor of Harpers & Queen in 1973, a post in which she remained until 1987.[10]

During her career, Kenton wrote more than forty books.[10] Her first was The Joy of Beauty (1976) which is reputed to have established the genre.[10] Raw Energy (co-authored with daughter Susannah, 1984), advocates nutritional detoxification with raw vegetables, drinking of mineral water and avoiding processed foods.[5] Others include The X Factor Diet (2002), which claims an affinity with the work of Palaeoanthropologists, and advocates a return to the diets of our distant ancestors,[11] and Age Power.[6] In Journey to Freedom: 13 quantum leaps for the soul (1999), she wrote about Shamanism, which claims to be a means of communicating with the natural and spirit world. She wrote: "Sit or stand in front of the plant or tree and thank it for bringing its life into your circle of awareness. Now in your imagination honour the spirit of the plant and open your awareness to it".[5]

Kenton is credited with establishing the Origins cosmetics line for Estée Lauder. She was the first chair of the British Natural Medicine Society.[8] With Aaron, her youngest son, she began Cura Romana in 2008, which claims to be a natural method for weight loss.[9]


Kenton moved to Governors Bay, Christchurch, New Zealand in 1998. She died while asleep at her home there on November 13, 2016.[9]


  1. ^ a b Singh, Anita (January 30, 2010). "Jazz great Stan Kenton raped his daughter, she claims in new book". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Barber, Lynn (February 21, 2010). "Love Affair by Leslie Kenton". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved December 21, 2016. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c Duerden, Nick (February 19, 2010). "Leslie Kenton: 'I was angry, but never hated my father'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Boleman-Herring, Elizabeth (February 18, 2012). "Stan Kenton & His Daughter Leslie's 'Love Affair'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Lacey, Hester (January 17, 1999). "Leslie Kenton Interview: Pure of body and a tonic for the soul". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Leslie Kenton". The Times. London. December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016. (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b c Cavendish, Lucy; French, Jemima; Geron, Tierney; Kenton, Leslie (February 11, 2007). "Is multi-dadding the future of parenting?". The Observer. London. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Interview: Leslie Kenton, beautician and health specialist". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. February 23, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Cowdrey, Katherine (November 29, 2016). "Health and beauty writer Leslie Kenton dies". The Bookseller. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Fletcher, Jack (December 2, 2016). "Life story: Leslie Kenton". Stuff. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  11. ^ Boni, Dita de (February 15, 2002). "The Kenton way to a long healthy life". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2016.