From sideburns symbolizing rebellion to beards that carry a massive mythology, the past proves that a man’s facial fur can take on a life of its own. So read on for MF’s take on the 13 most meaningful—or just plain memorable—sets of whiskers.
Dan Israeli 1 / 14
<p>The history of man is marked by many great achievements—fire, the wheel, Netflix On-Demand. During the course of all of this, though, there have also been many evolutions, advancements, and watershed moments in an area that all (well, most) men can share a common bond: facial hair. Yes, over time, beards, mustaches, and sideburns have <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/women/dating-advice/beards-gain-respect-but-f... in and out of style</a>, been grown to new extremes, and taken on larger-than-life personas that have even overshadowed the men to whose faces they’re attached.</p>
<p>And in this current era where business meets the beard (groom at your own discretion, fellas), it’s only fitting that we run through three centuries of some of the finest, most iconic facial fur we can remember. So here is the definitive list, with the exception of many mugs that did not make the cut. (Get it? Facial hair? Hair cut? Okay, moving right along.)</p>
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/gear/fashion-and-trends/the-best-celebrity-fa... also: The Best Celebrity Facial Hair>></strong></em></a></p>
1. Abraham Lincoln
<p>What better way to start off than with our 16th president, recently immortalized by Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis, who is no stranger to on-screen facial hair (see: <em>Gangs of New York</em>, <em>There Will Be Blood</em>)? But we digress. Before Honest Abe came around, the White House was pretty devoid of beard and stache. Then, while running for office, a beard-less Lincoln was encouraged by a letter from an 11-year-old girl to “grow some whiskers,” since she thought his face was too thin. The Republican nominee took the young girl’s advice, won the election, and the rest was history. The great United States got a president who eventually abolished slavery—and the original “chinstrap.”</p>
2. Grizzly Adams
<p>Contrary to what Shooter McGavin thinks, “Grizzly Adams did have a beard.” (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMTOY8qEaIs"><em>Happy Gilmore</em> reference</a>, anyone?) The original Mountain Man, John “Grizzly” Adams was best known as a tamer and trainer of grizzly bears, hence the nickname. There is some debate about his legacy (and even his real name), but one thing is not debatable—his feral, yet impressively groomed, man-beard. Fun fact: Dan Haggerty, who portrayed Grizzly Adams in both film and TV (seen in the photo here), gained some dubious fame in 1977 when his beard caught fire while allegedly drinking a flaming drink of sorts. Be careful, ye bar-going bearded hipsters.</p>
3. Charlie Chaplin
The modern mustache took a simpler approach at the turn of the 20th century, when the “toothbrush” style was popularized in America. Unlike the Imperial, the Walrus, the Kaiser, and several other extravagant staches before it, the toothbrush cut corners (literally) with a low-maintenance look popularized by society’s elite. The style was most regarded on Charlie Chaplin, who dug the toothbrush for its comical appearance—and also because it didn’t hide his many facial expressions. Alas, a guy named Adolf came along and totally changed the perception of the inch-long stache, and the style is rarely seen these days. (Thanks a lot, Hitler.)
4. Salvador Dali
One of the most iconic artists of all time, Salvador Dali’s paintings epitomized the surrealist movement. And his quirky persona matched his obscure art, as Dali was known just as well for his melting clocks as he was for his eccentric personal life and bizarre style. The Spaniard’s look was defined by his waxed, twisted upward mustache, which Dali styled after another legendary Spanish artist, Diego Velazquez. When once asked about the mustache, Dali answered in a way that only he could. “Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a mustache – it’s better for my health.” Well, of course it is!
5. Yosemite Sam
When it comes to the world of animated facial hair, there are several characters throughout history that deserve mentioning. There’s the Dali-esque mustaches of your favorite video game plumbers, Mario and Luigi, the well-groomed crumb catcher sported by Ned Flanders, and the au naturel, all-white beard that hangs from Papa Smurf. No cartoon in history, however, can compete with the fire-red face fur donned by Yosemite Sam. It’s hard to say where the mustache ends and the beard begins—it literally looks like his hair is eating his face—but if you’ve ever been to Six Flags and haven’t simultaneously tugged on the Yosemite Sam mascot’s whiskers? Well, my friend, you haven’t lived.
6. Elvis Presley
Quick fact: Sideburns were named after Union Civil War General Ambrose Everett Burnside and his glorious muttonchops. But it wasn’t until the “greaser” era of the 50s when a trimmed down burn defined the young, rebellious and cool look of icons like James Dean, and most notably, Elvis Presley. The King was ridiculed as a child for his long hair and matching chops, but that didn’t deter the follicle legend from ditching the ducktail. As Elvis’ fame (and waistband) grew, so did his facial hair. Since his death, legions of Las Vegas impersonators have paid homage to the Elvis burns—both old and new, real and fake.
7. Walt Frazier
<p>The ‘70s may be the premier facial fuzz decade of all time, probably thanks to all the residual hair left over from the hippies of the ‘60s. That said, the style and grooming tightened up a bit during the disco era, and Hall-of-Fame point guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier was ahead of the curve. While the rest of the NBA mostly conformed to clean-cut looks, Clyde ushered in a new era of funky self-expression, from his outrageous clothing style to his gigantic muttonchops. Groomed to perfection, with a matching stache, Clyde is still styling and profiling to this day as a color commentator for the Knicks, in which he regularly wears outfits <a href="http://bodymindzblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/walt-clyde-frazier-s... this</a>.</p>
8. Rollie Fingers
While Clyde Frazier ushered in a new look for the ‘70s that only slightly borrowed from the past, Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers revived an all-out classic – the handlebar mustache – as a pitcher for the Oakland As in 1972. When owner Charles O. Finley issued a challenge to his team to grow the best mustache, Fingers decided to pay homage to ballplayers of the 19th century, with the waxed-up, curled-at-the-ends style you see here. Obviously, Fingers won the bet, and decided to keep the stache for the rest of his career (life?), in what has become perhaps the most iconic piece of facial hair in sports history.
9. ZZ Top
Hair of the ‘80s can best be described with one word: big. And for Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, frontmen of the rock band ZZ Top, their beards were no exception. (In one of the greatest examples of irony ever, the name of the band’s mostly clean-shaven drummer is... Frank Beard.) Granted, ZZ Top was making hit music since the early ‘70s, but it wasn’t until the music videos for “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” that the band reached true commercial success. And what coincided with those videos? Why, the debut of Gibbons and Hill’s new chest-long beards, which they grew without each other’s knowledge during a prior hiatus.
10. Tom Selleck
The true test of iconic facial hair is trying to imagine the guy without the stache, beard, or burns that made him famous. And for anyone who has seen Tom Selleck without his mustache, well, it’s kind of like staring into the sun. Simply put, it’s not advised, so you should avoid watching the movie <em>In & Out</em> and Season 6 of <em>Friends</em>. In his heyday as Magnum, P.I., Selleck sported probably the smoothest stache in history, with all due respect to Burt Reynolds and Keith Hernandez.
11. Hulk Hogan
In the world of professional wrestling, one signature hair choice can define your image and launch your career into stardom. For <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/welcome-to-john-cenas-w... target="_blank">John Cena</a>, it was the buzz cut. For the Rock, it was the sideburns. For Stone Cold, it was the goatee. Before those guys, though, there was one Terry Gene Bollea and his 24-inch pythons, better known as Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s mustache is your classic horseshoe design, grown to the corners of the mouth where it makes a b-line down the jaw. Hogan’s horseshoe was highlighted by bleach dye, and stood out over a 30-year wrestling career. When Hogan announced he was ditching the stache in 2012, the American Mustache Institute protested the decision, calling Hogan a “leading figure in the sexually dynamic mustached American community.” (Yeah, it gets even weirder the more times you read it.)
12. Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine)
<p>Capturing a comic book character as magnetic as Wolverine on the big screen is no easy task, but it’s safe to say the Marvel Universe is pleased with the job Hugh Jackman has done over the past decade. In five films (and counting), Jackman has portrayed the clawed mutant superhero, known for his rugged demeanor and, of course, some pretty badass ‘burns. The wild style was unique to the comic book before Jackman took on the role, but has since become a popular look for pro athletes (e.g., Rays hitter <a href="http://cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/14/files/2012/03/6039112.jp... Scott</a>) and other macho guys who secretly want to have superhuman powers.</p>
13. Ron Swanson
<p>While he is still a facial hair legend in the making, the early consensus is that Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman on the NBC comedy <em>Parks and Recreation</em>) will define a decade that’s been longing for its mustached savior. Amidst a sea of over-the-top hipster beards, Swanson sports a clean-cut stache that has been known to store steak particles for weeks. When combined with his stern facial expressions, the Swanson mustache is said to resemble some members of the feline family, as <a href="http://catsthatlooklikeronswanson.tumblr.com/">this blog</a> devotedly chronicles. What’s more: His cranky character even has an on-the-record philosophy about facial hair, thanks to the “Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness” he revealed during Season 3. (“Facial Hair - Full, thick and square. Nothing sculpted. If you have to sculpt it, that probably means you can't grow it.”)</p>