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From Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, many iconic men have sported mustaches throughout modern history. Some of these stylish crumb-catchers have even become as famous -- or infamous -- as those who wore them.
And while lip hair fell out of style in the Reagan era, it seems to be making a comeback. “In the 1980s, only 19 percent of men wore a mustache or beard, whereas now nearly 36 percent of men sport one or both,” says Aaron Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Institute.
Since November is also Movember -- a month-long event during which thousands of men grow mustaches to help raise awareness and money for men's health, specifically prostate cancer -- we thought it would be interesting to look at some of the more culturally significant (good and bad) mustachioed men throughout the years, and the impact they had on the world.
THE FAMOUS …
#INSERT(Image,mt,HTML,Left)Mustaches were de rigueur in the 19th century, and for world-famous novelist and satirist Samuel Langhorne Clemens -- aka Mark Twain -- had one for the ages, just like his works. Clemens’ shaggy white handlebar mo accented his image as a rakish wit that penned such phrases as, “Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.” This sentiment obviously applied to facial hair as well. In his sketches, articles, stories and novels, he captured the flavor and spirit of America during the late 19th century. More importantly, he wrote eloquently about universal themes that affect people of all times.
#INSERT(Image,ae,HTML,Right)The 20th century’s leading physicist was famously absentminded, forgetting names, his wife’s birthday … and apparently his mustache comb and scissors. Obviously a man with bigger things on his mind than grooming, Einstein’s overgrown mo gave him something to chew on besides the theory of relativity. His kinetic hairstyle just added to his mystique. Einstein’s impact on the world has gone beyond the sciences, as his thoughts and ideas have helped to open people’s eyes to the tragedies of war and what can happen when science runs amuck.
Let the record show that the only time the Fab Four wore mustaches at the same time was during the eight months when they recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Paul grew one first to cover a scar from a moped accident. John, George and Ringo followed suit, making their mos part of their psychedelic Sgt. Pepper shtick, along with military uniforms and groundbreaking songs. The album even came with cutout cardboard mustaches. From there on out, things only got hairier. To this day, Sgt. Pepper’s is considered to be one of the greatest rock albums -- if not the greatest -- of all time.
#INSERT(Image,de,HTML,Left)His nickname may have been The Intimidator, but the legendary stock-car driver kept his chevron well-tamed and fastidiously trimmed. Legend has it that the man who made NASCAR a household acronym eschewed full-face helmets because the mask interfered with his beloved mo. There is said to be only one photograph of him as a bare-lipped adult, taken after he shaved for a snorkeling vacation. Earnhardt’s larger-than-life persona and drive to win makes him a legend even today, more than 10 years after his tragic death.
#INSERT(Image,sj,HTML,Right)The late, great tech genius toggled between clean-shaven and shaggy throughout his too-short life. In the 1970s, when Apple was just a byte-sized enterprise and Burt Reynolds was a mo-wearing centerfold, Jobs embodied geek hotness by rocking a rakish crumb-catcher that highlighted his Syrian heritage. Jobs’ complete impact on society might be years away from being realized. What he did bring to the business of circuitry was artistry. His products were elegant, and stylish, and they proved that “geek” doesn’t have to be a bad word.
THE INFAMOUS …
John Wilkes Booth
#INSERT(Image,jwb,HTML,Left)Never trust an actor with a dark, droopy mo. Before his playdate with infamy, this Confederate sympathizer and well-known stage actor was considered one of the best-looking men of his day, thanks in no small part to his suavely sinister moustache. After assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, Booth shaved it off while on the lam to avoid being recognized. It didn’t work.
#INSERT(Image,ah,HTML,Right)Here’s one mo style you don’t see much of anymore, and for good reason. Hitler’s tragicomic toothbrush ’stache became synonymous with Nazism and mass murder. As a younger soldier during World War I, Hitler reportedly sported the larger kaiser moustache, but was told to trim it so his gas mask would fit.
#INSERT(Image,js,HTML,Left)The Soviet dictator’s thick walrus mo was as massive as his political ambitions. Although he murdered countless numbers of his fellow Russians, threw Leon Trotsky under the bus and sparked a Cold War with the U.S. and other Allied nations, this thug was no intellectual. As Yugoslavian dictator Josip Tito put it, “Stalin is known the world over for his mustache, but not for his wisdom.” After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, statues of Stalin were toppled all over Russia. So his own people seemed to agree with Tito.
Steve Jobs, Dale Earnhardt, Josef Stalin: Getty Images
Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, John Wilkes Booth, Adolf Hitler: Wikipedia/Creative Commons/Public Domain
The Beatles: Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/DWithers
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