Sideburns, Mustaches, Mutton Chops? Facial Hair Of The '60s & '70s

Fads | December 8, 2017

From left: Neil young in 'The Last Waltz' (1978), Wayne Garland's 1978 baseball card, and Ron O'Neal in 'Super Fly' (1972). Sources: IMDB, kronozio.com, IMDB

In the 1960s and '70s, facial hair -- including mustaches, sideburns, goatees, Van Dykes, soul patches, mutton or lamb chops and other creative topiary -- was a means of free expression and identity. The 1950s had been an era of extreme clean-shavenness; in movies of the time, a 5 o'clock shadow was a visual shorthand for intoxication or derangement. As young men threw off the shackles of conformity, they began experimenting with facial hair. From the beatniks' goatees and Van Dykes to full hippie beards, and then into the '70s with massive sideburns and pimp-ish mustaches. If you could grow it on your face, you had free rein to do so.

Youthful Experimentation 

During the 1960’s and 1970’s nearly every young man on a college campus was growing some sort of facial hair. Let’s face it, they were away from home and the influence of their parents. It was equivalent to a young person taking control of their own lives. Facial hair had previously been associated with, “beatniks.” Beatniks were people who rejected conventional behavior, or more commonly known as, hippies…. what could be worse than that?

Mustaches and sideburns are, to a man, much like make-up is to a woman. Facial hair can range from the very subtle to the very extreme. Of course, it probably goes without saying that plenty of celebrities also made their own personal statement with the facial hair statement.

Mustaches have been called everything from handlebars to gunslingers to Fu Manchus. Sideburns have been called everything from skinny to mutton chops. Women are generally considered more appearance conscientious than men. Don’t be fooled, though, because men are also concerned with appearances.

Below you will see some recognizable icons who exerted their individuality with facial hair. They range from actors and musicians to athletes.  

The Almighty Sideburn

The term "sideburn" is derived from the unusual facial hairstyle worn by American Civil War General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was a Union Army General, United States Senator and the first president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The Basic Elvis-style Sideburn

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll! You won’t find many pictures of Elvis in a full beard, but he could always be counted on for sporting sideburns.

Sam Elliott, Mustache Hero

Sam Elliott, an American actor, his thick mustache, deep and resonant voice led to frequent roles as a cowboy and/or rancher.

Goatee, No 'Stache

Beatnik and proto-hippie Maynard G. Krebs, played by Bob Denver on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, wore a basic goatee. Although the term "goatee" today means facial hair around the mouth but not on the cheeks, in the strict sense the goatee is only the bit on the chin. Grow a goatee with a large mustache that doesn't connect and you have a Van Dyke. Grow a mustache and goatee that connect, and keep it all fairly tight, and you have what is known as a "circle beard."

Frank Zappa, Mr. Soul Patch

Frank Zappa, an American musician, composer, activist and filmmaker, his work was characterized by nonconformity, which supported his facial hair statement.   

Monkee Sideburns

Mike Nesmith, an American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist and businessman; probably best known for being a member of the pop rock band The Monkees. Like many young people in the 1960’s and 1970’s, enjoyed showing off his sideburns.  

Baseball's Most Famous 'Stache

Rollie Fingers, Oakland A’s Pitcher, sported a handlebar mustache. He showed up at Spring training one year, fully expecting his coach to make him shave it off before the season started. To his surprise, the owner of the Oakland A’s liked it and thought it would be a great gimmick for the team. After that, several of his teammates jumped on board and grew their own mustaches. The next 3 seasons, 1972, 1973 and 1974, the A’s won the World Series! They were sure it was the mustaches.

The Bandit

Burt Reynolds, the late American actor, claimed that after he started sporting his mustache he started getting better roles in movies and better leading ladies.

Beatle Chops

Source: Pinterest

John Lennon of The Beatles was easily recognized with his wild mutton chop sideburns.

History and fads seem to run cycles and usually come back around at some point. Here we are in 2017 and facial hair for men is coming back in a big way. It is very common now to see young men with full beards. Let me just say that facial hair should be worn responsibly, guys. Please don’t forget that the “neck beard” is just not cool… ever!

Tags: A Brief History Of... | Fashion In The 1960s | Fashion In The 1970s | Male Fashion In The 1960s | Male Fashion In The 1970s

Like it? Share with your friends!

Share On Facebook

Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.