20 Manliest Mustaches and Beards From Facial Hair History

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 2, 2008 · 149 comments

in Blog

There’s nothing manlier than facial hair. No matter how much we advance in the equality of the sexes, growing a thick beard or mustache is something that only men will be able to do (Okay, so some women can grow impressive facial hair, but they end up in sideshows). Some men have felt that facial hair wasn’t getting the respect it deserved, so they decided to dedicate a month to the manly glory of beards and mustaches. First, in the United States, November is officially National Beard Month. Men across the United States are encouraged to grow a beard in preparation of the cold winter ahead. Second, a non-profit charity group from Australia has declared November Movember. In Australia, mustaches are called “Mo’s.” The idea of Movember is to get men all over the world to grow mustaches in order to raise money and awareness to fight prostate cancer.

In honor of National Beard Month and Movember, we’ve decided to pull together a list of the 20 Manliest Mustaches and Beards From Facial Hair History. I sent out a message on Facebook and Twitter (follow me) asking people for suggestions. We’ve included them and a few of our own. Enjoy.

General Ambrose Burnside

You know your facial hair is manly when they name a certain type of it after you. General Ambrose Burnside was a politician, inventor, railroad exec, Union general, and the Father of Sideburns.

Tom Selleck

Whether acting in Magnum PI or Three Men and a Baby, Tom Selleck brought a healthy dose of manly testosterone with that awesome stache of his. Sadly, in 1997 he shaved off his manly nose mane. He kept it off for several years after that. Thankfully, he came to his senses and has since brought it back.

Charles Darwin

Besides developing biological theories that changed the way humans view themselves and the world, Charles Darwin’s other talent was growing awesome facial hair. Perhaps intent on discovering himself as the the missing link, Darwin grew a beard any ape would envy.

Teddy Roosevelt

What Art of Manliness list would be complete without an appearance by Teddy Roosevelt? TR was so freaking manly that his mustache could judo chop assailants, and shout “Bully!” at would-be attackers.

Friedrich Nietzsche

For Nietzsche, God may have been dead, but his mustache lives on. In letters unearthed by historians, it was discovered that Nietzsche believed that his mustache made him a superman. While critics laughed at him, looking at this mustache, I think he was on to something.

Sam Elliot

Anytime the movie industry needs a mustached cowboy, Sam Elliot is their go-to guy. With movies like Tombstone and Gettysburg under his belt, Sam Elliot has proven that his mustache has the talent to make it in Hollywood. Of course Sam Elliot is a talented actor, too.

Brigham Young

When leading a religion or overseeing a household with 55 wives (holy crap! 55!) you need to muster all your resources to establish your authority. Mormon prophet Brigham Young busted out this mustacheless beard to let people know that he was in charge. Sadly, the university that bears his name (Brigham Young University) prohibits beards among its male students. You can only get an exception to this rule if you have a “Beard Card,” given sparingly to those with medical or religious exceptions. Brigham Young, and his beard, would be rolling over in the grave.

Chuck Norris

Fact: Chuck Norris was born with a beard. When doctors tried to shave it, he roundhouse kicked them in the face with his precociously strong baby legs, knocking them all unconscious.

Kimbo Slice

Wow. All I have to say is that this is quiet possibly the scariest beard I’ve ever seen. UFC fighter Kimbo Slice puts the fear of God into his opponents with powerful punches and his thick black beard. While Kimbo Slice may be 3-1 in UFC fights, his beard is still, and will always be, undefeated.

Kenny Rogers

What happened to you Kenny Rogers? In this picture, you look so damn manly. Now you just look like a plastic-faced freak. Out of respect to your beard, I’ll always remember you the way you looked in 1985.

ZZ Top

There are no harder working beards in the music industry than the beards on ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons’ and Dusty Hills’ faces. Ironically, the band’s beardless drummer is named Frank Beard.

Tom McKay

Alright. I’m exercising a bit of editorial privilege here and adding my dad, Tom McKay to the list of manliest mustaches and beards. Just look at that thing. Pretty dang manly if you ask me. And of course the three piece 1979 suit only accents the mustache. My dad’s a retired federal game warden, and I’m sure he had poachers shaking in their boots when they took one look at his stache. I’ve only seen my dad without a mustache twice in my 26 years of existence. And both times he shaved it off, it freaked me out. For about a month it would feel like some stranger that sounded like and dressed in the same clothes as my dad moved into our house. Thankfully, he always grew it back.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus’ beard is iconic. Not only is it a part of his personal brand (so much so that children give it a yank to test a Santa’s authenticity), his beard also has a practical purpose. When you live in the North Pole and fly a sleigh at high altitudes, you need a thick, full beard to keep your face warm and free from wind chapping. Oh yeah, and it’s also magical.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain is one of America’s greatest humorists, satirists, and writers. He’s also one of America’s finest mustacheers. Face it. Mark Twain’s mustache will always be wittier than you.

Karl Marx

Thanks to Karl Marx we have Communism, an awesome example of a beard, and annoying college dudes who think if they grow a beard like Marx and quote a few lines of Das Kapital, they’re automatically experts on the plight of the working class. But back to this beard. It’s awesome. No, it’s freaking awesome. I can see why this man was able to kick start revolutions and inspire the proletariat to shake off the shackles of  capitalism. It wasn’t his ideas of communism. It’s the beard, stupid.

Walter Frazier

From 1967-1977, Walter Frazier led the New York Knicks to two NBA Championships. (What the? There was a time when the Knicks were actually good?) Frazier’s success on the court can be attributed to two things. First, his defensive talent. Second, his awesome mutton chops. Look at this image above. In a match up between a man with broad, sweeping mutton chops, and a man with wisps of hair that are a pathetic excuse for a sideburn, who do you think will win? I’m putting my money on number ten. Perhaps the Knicks should consider requiring their players to grow awesome mutton chops like Walter Frazier. Maybe then they’ll stop sucking.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp is famous for his infamous gunfight at the OK Coral. He’s also famous for having a bad ass mustache. With it, he struck fear into the hearts of cowboys from Dodge City to the the Dakota Territory.

Rollie Fingers

In addition to having one of the best names in sports history, Rollie Fingers also has the best mustache. With his turn of the century curly mustache, Rollie Fingers pitched his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame. After his career in baseball, he made a second career out of tying damsels in distress to railroad tracks.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali needed a crazy mustache to match the craziness of his surreal paintings and his love of walking his pet lobster. So he decided to go with this pointy get-up. I think it works for him. He looks crazy as all hell.

Grizzly Adams

Can you imagine a man named Grizzly Adams, a man who befriends a bear, having a clean shaven, soft-as-a-baby’s-behind face? Neither can I. This man’s beard is so thick that the bear actually thought he was one of them. That’s probably why it didn’t maul his face off.

Anybody you think should be on the list? Drop a line in the comment box and let your voice be heard.

Donate to Movember

One of our Aussie readers, Shaun Daws, is participating in this year’s Movember. Here’s his before pic, all clean shaven and baby faced.

Hopefully, by the end of the month he’ll have a mustache that would make Tom Selleck jealous. Maybe something like this:

If you’d like to donation under Shaun’s name and help contribute to the cause of fighting prostate cancer you can use this form to do so by credit card or PayPal.

If you’d like to keep up with Shaun’s mustache progress, check out his Movember blog page.

And finally, if you’d like more info about Movember and how you can participate in battling prostate cancer, check out the official webpage.

{ 148 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Mike September 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

For you geeks out there, what about Joe Celko? http://www.rampant-books.com/images/author_pic_joe_celko.jpg Talk about a close second to “Ming the Merciless!”

102 Pete September 8, 2009 at 3:58 pm

As a follow-up on Brigham Young, how about Karl Maeser, the first president of Brigham Young University? Great beard and ‘tache. His portrait at BYU was re-touched (defaced?) so he would be smooth-faced.

103 michele September 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I would like to suggest Father Seraphim Rose to the top Beard list.

104 Dave Payne September 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I was reading this book called “Stories of the Bullpen” or something like that that had all these interviews with relief pitchers. In Rollie’s chapter, he told the story about how he got his mustache. When he was in the minor leagues, the team’s front office was convinced they’d sell more tickets if their players had facial hair, so they offered, I think, a $50 bonus for any player who grew a moustache. Rollie said “For that kind of money, we would have grown moustaches on our asses.”
The rest is manly moustache history.

105 Luftschiffritter October 8, 2009 at 1:57 am

What about Marx’s less-infamous but equally important partner, Frederick Engels? Marx’s wild barbarian beard may fit as the ideal for the man with the big ideas, but it honestly is just as matched by the perfectly-formed, colossal piece of steel wool that stuck out from the chin of his sidekick. Equally remarkable is how Engels’ mustache seems to extend down far below his mouth, which I can only imagine made eating a complicated task. Needless to say, the inspiring portrait of Engels’ taped to my wall has long outlasted my fleeting embrace of communism.

106 Michael October 29, 2009 at 2:46 am

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton. First translator of the Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, snuck into the forbidden city of Mecca disguised as a pilgrim at a time when doing so carried a death warrant, as well as discovered the lakes of sub-Saharan Africa. He spoke 29 different languages and is a founder of the field of modern anthropology. To say nothing of the thousand other little things he did. Check him out, and do his mustache justice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Francis_Burton

107 AnaMarie November 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Why isn’t legendary NASCAR driver #3, aka Dale Earnhardt on this list? Talk about one of the manliest men out there, Earnhardt epitomized manliness in more ways than one.

108 Michael November 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm

How can you omit John L. Sullivan?

109 Matt December 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm

How about Brian Blessed? I think Prince Vultan is about as manly as a beard can get. Add to it the fact that Blessed is an accomplished mountaineer as well as an entertainer, and has been happily married to the same woman for more than thirty years and I think you’ve got a beard to look up to.

110 Rick December 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

A great bearded look was Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane in Iron Man. He looked bad to the bone with the shaved head and full beard!!!

111 Matthew January 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

Well If we are adding Santa Clause, we may as well include Thor, the Thunder God. His beard was so epic, that it raw power actually mentioned several times throughout Snorri’s Edda. Thor was rarely angry enough that his beard would “shake”, but when it did, it was to the sound of thunder and directly preceded a Godly ass kicking!

112 J.B. January 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Do yourself a favor and google search Tio Kleberg of the King Ranch.

113 Rick January 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm

One totally kick ass beard was the “other” father of communism, Friedrich Engels. Not a fan of communism myself, but that dude had an UNBELIEVABLE beard. Check it out at Wikipedia. Look up “beard” and scroll down. You could hide a bus in that thing!!!!

114 SOD January 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Scott Ian

115 Charlie February 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

Ufc’s Andrei Arlovski is a definite

116 nic March 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I think Leo Tolstoy, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau should definitely be on this list. Those beards have inspired me really.

117 Andy Wilmot April 2, 2010 at 1:48 am

Please Google ” Dirty old men with beards ” The Dirty old men with beards joke was writen by me . My apologies for offending Germans , I do watch Holocaust Movies and TV documentarys and have a bonza beard .

118 Martin Rudiger June 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

Thanks for this page! Well, here are some suggestions to enhance the list above:

German singer / songwriter Wolf Biermann: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Wolf_Biermann_Lauter_Lyrik.jpg&filetimestamp=20091111223758

German handball coach Heiner Brand: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Heiner_Brand_03.jpg&filetimestamp=20080221151238

And of course Hohenzollern emperors Wilhelm I. (1797-1888) and Wilhelm II. (1859-1941):

119 Jon July 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Hey wait! You left the ultimate bearded dude, the a-priori man, the most legendary visage ever to grace beard-dom, and quite possible the coolest looking dude who ever walked the earth… Walt Whitman!!!

I’m sure you’ll repent…

120 Mike Godinho July 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

i know people will take offense but you cant have a article with mustaches without Adolf Hitler. It is the most well recognized stache in the western world.

121 wow July 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

somebody has a soft spot for UFC… wow, lol

122 EJ July 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

And no mention of Grover Cleveland?! Preposterous!!!

123 What about... August 12, 2010 at 12:34 am

Johannes Brahms… Frank Zappa too but he’s been mentioned dozens of times.

124 mark August 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm

hello? worlds longest beard!!!! Hans Langseth !!!! after he died people opened a chest in his house and found his beard. its in a museam!
and BMX biker, ‘the beard’, his name is beard!!!!!!

125 Mr. M August 22, 2010 at 1:02 am

Check out Franco Nero’s mustache in the 80′s B-movie, “Enter the Ninja.” Truly a powerful mustache. I wish I could grow it.

126 Derek November 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

Paul Teutul Sr from OC Choppers always impressed me!

127 schoort November 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

What about Charles Bronson? Either would do but I was thinking about the infamous UK prisoner.

128 adam December 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

What about Brian Wilson, the closer for the San Francisco Giants? What do you think about dying your beard jet black. I saw him in passing during the world series and that beard was intense. Hard to find pictures of it though/

129 Dakota January 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm

jerry garcia totally deserves to be on this list man he had an awesome beard man , he made awesome music and well just look at the different levels of beard he went through throughout his life

130 Brian February 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

The new Walter Frazier of the NBA has got to be James Harden. Not only is he one of the best players in the NBA right now, he’s rocking the full beard. He and his awesome facial hair are going to go far.

131 NTx February 23, 2013 at 7:50 am

Where is Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath? And Yanni too? Now those two guys have GREAT MUSTACHES!!

132 Benjamin February 24, 2013 at 10:03 am

Mormonism has a proud history of manly bearded men. Here is church president John Taylor and his mighty neck beard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Taylor_seated_in_chair.jpg
Another church president with a very prophetic looking beard Lorenzo Snow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lorenzosnow.jpg
And Apostle Orson Pratt with a wild beard that would put Marx to shame. https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQsTrHQBiVpJmdgNMIQBb9r2f66oWqt_Pk8jhh8jtbiJMonpZwP7w

133 Joe Sixpack February 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm
134 Bernard April 12, 2013 at 5:00 am

You can add to the list the most famous beard of Belgium, King Leopold II who made Belgian Congo his personnal property :
or a later picture :

135 A May 6, 2013 at 8:02 am

How about albert einstein?

136 JJ August 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Lemmy Kilmister!

137 David S September 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I have only seen my dad without his mustache once in my nearly 18 years of existence.

138 David September 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Let`s not forget the Mentzer Brothers, Mike and Ray.
Rest in peace guys

139 Noah October 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

I think Ernest Hemmingway deserves a shout out, not only for his amazing beard, but for his general manliness.


140 Justin October 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

Brian Wilson, pitcher for the Dodgers. The best beard to ever stand on the mound.

141 bigdave October 11, 2013 at 11:20 am
142 Peter McQueeny October 14, 2013 at 11:27 am


143 Brandon October 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I think Phil Robertson would also be a great addition to this list. :)

144 Chris November 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

You forgot lead singer of Mungo Jerry, Ray Dorset!!
Best. Chops. EVER!!

145 Michele November 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Joseph Palmer should be on this list. The man was jailed for sporting a beard. He even sliced a man for trying to hold him down to shave it. He had a rockin’ beard and fought for the right to sport it.

146 Logan Seeley November 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm
147 Rohit Ramachandran November 17, 2013 at 4:12 am

Christoph Waltz.

148 Harley December 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

I’m pretty sure John Muir (naturist) should be at the top of the list there..

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