Monday, 4 July 2011

U.S Presidents

In honour of my American friends on the 4th July, I decided to investigate the baldness of every one of your Presidents, and see if there is any truth in the often quoted anecdote that since the TV age, the number of bald presidents has dramatically fallen.
All norwood ratings are taken from their presidential reign where possible.


George Washington (1789 - 1797) In the 18th Century, it was fashionable to wear a long white wig, which hid baldness as well as declaring status. According to his estate though, Washington did not wear a wig, and simply grew his hair long and powdered it white in the style of a wig.
Norwood Rating : 4a


John Adams (1797-1801) Like Washington, Adams tried to pull off the wig look with his own natural hair. The only trouble was his massive frontal bald patch, which made him look more like a terrifying white haired clown than a respectable head of state.
Norwood Rating : 6


Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
An occasional wig wearer, as this site documents.
Norwood Rating : 2


James Madison (1809-1817)
The last president to regularly wear a wig in office. "In 1795 the British Parliament enacted a tax on wig powder,which effectively ended what was left of the fashion." Like Silvio Berlusconi, Madison applied powder to the wispy hair on top of his head, which fooled no one.
Norwood Rating : 5a


James Monroe (1817-1825) According to a biography, "Monroe was the last U.S. President to wear a powdered wig and knee breeches according to the men's fashion of the eighteenth century." It seems like his wearing was mostly confined to his pre-whitehouse years though. By this time, shorter hairstyles were the trend.
Norwood Rating : 3


John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
Like his father, Adams Junior had balded significantly and was a full blown norwood 7. He tried to compensate for this with impressive sideburns.
Norwood Rating : 7


Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) By all accounts a bit of a mentalist, this is reflected in his wild, carefree hairstyle. Slightly receding, he is a candidate for best hairstyle sported by a US President. He once said "If I thought my hair knew what was passing in my head, I would wear a wig", whatever that means.
Norwood Rating : 2


Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) Took his inspiration from John Adams and revived the balding clown look.
Norwood Rating : 7


William Henry Harrison (1841)
A member of the 'Whig' political party, Harrison appeared to have his own hair, but combed it forward in the "Caesar" style which can conceal a receding hairline. He died only 32 days into his presidency.
Norwood Rating : 3


John Tyler (1841-1845)
Another Whig, this Peter Cushing lookalike used the combover technique to minimise his baldness. The Whigs later disowned him and he served the rest of his presidency as an independent.
Norwood Rating : 3a


James Polk (1845-1849)
Sharp looking man with bulbous upper head that he accentuated with a swept back, receding style.
Norwood Rating : 2-3


Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) His hair was similar to Harrisons, although he alternated between the Caesar and side parting styles. He also died shortly into his presidency, after 16 months.
Norwood Rating : 4


Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) This rotund chap used a combover style side parting, but seems to have most of his hair, and wing-like sidepieces. It is possible that he was bald at the back, though I have been unable to determine this from photos as of yet.
Norwood Rating : 2


Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Pierce was known for his good looks and had a slight dandy thing going on. He had thick curly hair that he struggled to smooth down into a side parting. Academics noted that "While a successful presidency eluded Franklin Pierce, the superior quality of his hair cannot be disputed. It is hair redolent with integrity, patriotism, judgment and, most importantly, small-town values." Here's another blog post specifically dedicated to his hair : Getting Pierced: Hair Force One
Norwood Rating : 2


James Buchanan (1857-1861)
A diffuse thinner, some interesting photos show that Buchanan was an early pioneer of the "faux-hawk" style that became popular some 140 years later.
Norwood Rating : diffuse 4-5


Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) Often found at the top of 'greatest president' lists, his pairing of full beard, thick dark hair with temporal recession and occasional hat has become an iconic and enduring image, copied by vagrants all over the world.
Norwood Rating : 2-3


Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
Someone said that he was "the queerest character that ever occupied the White House." He was also a drunk with some hairline recession.
Norwood Rating : 2a


Ulysses S Grant (1869-1877) Bearded balder. Despite his civil rights record, his administration was troubled by corruption and consequently has a low presidential ranking.
Norwood Rating : 2-3


Rutherford B Hayes (1877-1881) Another bushy beard receder. They are starting to all look the same to me now.
Norwood Rating : 4


James A Garfield (1881)
Yet another beard, this time teamed with a high norwood! He was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau...


...a mentally ill norwood 2.
Norwood Rating : 5-6


Chester A Arthur (1881-1885) The end of the 'beard era', Arthur instead cultured an impressive moustache to complement his minimal balding.
Norwood Rating : 2


Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)
Moustachioed, overweight, significant hair loss.
Norwood Rating : 5


Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) Responsible for briefly 'bringing beard' back, average baldness for a man of his age.
Norwood Rating : 2


Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) Cleveland returned as president in 1893. He was still moustachioed, overweight and even more bald.
Norwood Rating : 5-6


William McKinley (1897-1901)
Clean shaven, McKinley had very thin hair and a combover.
Norwood Rating : 5-6


Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) His hairstyle looks suspiciously like a toupee at times, but I am not knowledgeable about their quality during this era so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Norwood Rating : 2


William H Taft (1909-1913) Obese, moustachioed with a hint of diffuse thinning.
Norwood Rating : diffuse 4


Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Had moderate recession and a combover style, possibly due to a thinning crown.
Norwood Rating : 2v


Warren Harding (1921-1923)
A receeder, but apart from that, had a good head of hair. Frequently voted worst President ever.
Norwood Rating : 3


Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) An absolutely massive forehead which was made to look bigger by his hairline recession. He was born on the 4th July, fact fans.
Norwood Rating : 2-3a


Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
The second president in a row cursed with a large forehead.
Norwood Rating : 2-3a


Franklin D Roosevelt (1933-1945)
In power for 12 years, had average hair loss for most of this time.
Norwood Rating : 4


Harry S Truman (1945-1953)
Bespectacled balder, thin crown.
Norwood Rating : 4v


Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Former Supreme Commander and Gollum lookalike Eisenhower was at least a full blown norwood 6 by the time he took office. He was 62 at the time though. Probably the baldest president there has ever been, and the last bald president to be elected by the public.
By now, around half of the US possessed a television set.
Norwood Rating : 7


John F Kennedy (1961-1963) Kennedy started the modern trend of photogenic Presidents with minimal hair loss. He barely even had a mature hairline and was a norwood 1.
Norwood Rating : 1


Lyndon B Johnson (1963-1969) Became president aged 55. His brave slicked back style stuck two fingers up at the slight hair loss that was becoming evident. Shortly before his death in 1973, he became a hippy, started smoking again and grew his hair down to his shoulders. For this reason, he is my favourite president.
Norwood Rating : 3


Richard M Nixon (1969-1974)
Although a blatant receeder, this can occasionally work in a mans favour and give an impression of a certain gravitas.
Norwood Rating : 3a


Gerald R Ford (1974-1977) Probably the last president with cosmetically significant hair loss. However, he wasn't elected into office by the public, and became president due to Nixon resigning.
Norwood rating : 6



Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) Known for his beautiful flowing grey hair, remnants of which can still be seen today.
Norwood Rating : 2


Ronald W Reagan (1981-1989)
Possibly the most offensive presidential hair as seen through bitter balders eyes. Reagan had more hair and a straighter hairline than many children.
Norwood Rating : 1



George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) Large foreheaded receeder, with an especially prominent left temple. In this presidential portrait, they have tried to cover up his baldness, a rare moment of dishonesty that you would not usually expect from a Bush administration.


This picture from his younger days showcases his recession, which never really got much worse as he aged.
Norwood rating : 3


William J Clinton (1993-2001) Another offensively full head of hair, Clinton has an almost juvenile hairline with a slight widows peak. His hair has characteristics more often seen in women than middle aged men, and as he ages his hair will probably diffuse thin in the ludwig fashion.
Norwwod Rating : 1


George W Bush (2001-2009)
More hair than his father, though they both balded very slowly and minimally.


I am not convinced he hasn't had some minor hair transplants. But they say alcoholics have better hair than average, so who knows.
Norwood Rating : 2


Barack Obama (2009 - present) The first black president, I would like to see Obama push the boundaries further and become the first president to sport an afro, which in my opinion is the king of all hairstyles. As it stands, his close cropped hair shows flecks of grey but no signs of balding.
Norwood Rating : 1

In conclusion, 55% of US Presidents have had significant (norwood 3 and above) hair loss. 36% had a mature hairline or norwood 2, and 9% had no hairloss whatsoever.

As television ownership dramatically increased somewhere around the late 1950s, we can say that Kennedy was the first 'TV age' President, and can discount Ford, who was not voted into office.

So, since the TV age, 33% have had noticeable hairloss - although this never rises above a norwood 3. 22% have a mature hairline, and an astonishing 45% have no hairloss at all.

Pre 1960s, the average norwood rating was a 4-5. After, it is a 2.

This probably says a lot about public attitudes to baldness.

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  5. My parents would have never allowed me to date anyone with hair like most of those presidents had. Their hair was far longer (and sometimes, wilder) than the scandalous length that the Beatles wore when Ed Sullivan introduced them to the American public. What a wild bunch of hippies we had as presidents!

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  7. I love this page. I've been amusing myself taking in some funny caricature illustrations of balding presidents. Here's one of President Millard Fillmore, America's 13th Chief Executive, sans comb-over. http://blog.optionsclick.com/2013/11/13/asian-stocks-lower-on-chinese-economic-policies/ It was featured in the op-ed options market news of 11/13/2013

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  8. Not sure if you missed R E Lee, of course he was not president, but people who knew him very well and wrote about this, said he was completely bald on top, and very vain about it, used a goofy looking comb over. He started to go bald around 30, and like many, the comb over became more necessary as time went on

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  10. Thanks for the lesson in American History.

    Modern presidents are all clean shaven (No mustache or beard). Disgraceful.

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  16. Bill Clinton has naturally curly hair, has been gray since at least his presidency in 1993. He grows it long. Curly long gray hair covers baldness pretty well.

    I saw a pic of when from when he was 20 and his hairline then was visible and is lower than it currently is (which doesn't really look like a hairline). He probably has significant baldness and had this for many years.

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