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Mark Twain, Wyatt Earp, MLK Jr., and more: The most magnificent mustaches of all time (both real and fictional)

Which 'stach is your favorite?

MLK Jr.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mustaches have been worn by villains, sex icons, presidents, badasses, and everyone in between. Indeed, this prominent beard style has seen many ups and downs over the years — a wild mustache ride, if you will. Most men can grow a mustache, but it’s what a man does with his mustache that defines him.

Come with us on a journey through time and space — reality and fiction — as we search for the most famous types of mustaches in the world. Warning: These ‘staches are unironic, unapologetic, and undeniably cool. You may want to pick up some of the best mustache wax along the way.

Great men with great mustaches

“Some are born with mustaches, some achieve great mustaches, and some have great mustaches thrust upon them.” This slightly altered quote from William Shakespeare (another great mustache) perfectly describes the men and mustaches in this category.

Friedrich Nietzsche mustache
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Friedrich Nietzsche

This 19th-century German philosopher challenged traditional ideas of morality and religion. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could discover how to eat with such a giant, intrusive mustache.

Theodore Roosevelt mustache
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Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s formidable mustache sat as comfortably on his upper lip as Roosevelt himself sat in the saddle. Teddy’s mustache helped him to victory during the Spanish-American War and stuck with him during his productive presidency.

Mark Twain
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Mark Twain

Look at this majestic son of a gun. It’s only fitting that the man who wrote some of the greatest American novels also rocked one of the greatest American mustaches.

Muhatma Gandhi mustache
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Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi is revered for his dedication to peace, his resistance to imperialism, and his humble lifestyle. If we were to add one more thing to that list, it would be his kind, gentle mustache.

Martin Luther King Jr. mustache
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Martin Luther King, Jr.

A devotion to non-violence wasn’t the only thing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gleaned from Gandhi. Though perhaps the least amazing thing about him, King’s smooth, humble mustache deserves a nod of recognition.

Albert Einstein mustache
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Albert Einstein

Einstein is widely considered the smartest man ever to have lived. Legend has it that the “m” in “E=mc2” originally stood for “mustache.” When the numbers didn’t add up, Einstein reluctantly changed it to “mass.”

Salvador Dali mustache
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Salvador Dalí

Surrealist Salvador Dalí eschewed the conventional notions of logic, reality, and mustache grooming. Dalí’s waxed masterpiece was as strange and wonderful as his numerous artistic endeavors.

Wyatt Earp mustache
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Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp is an Old West legend. The famous mustachioed gunslinger served time as a sheriff, a U.S. marshal, a gambler, gold rusher, and everything in between. Nearly formidable as the real Wyatt’s ‘stache is Kurt Russell’s beauty in the movie Tombstone, which touches on some of the former’s exploits.

Fictional characters, real mustaches

The following characters were born on the screen, but no one could write such magical mustaches.

Kip Napoleon Dynomite
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Kip Dynamite

Who can forget Kip, Napoleon Dynamite’s older brother and eventual lover of the juicy LaFonda? We think his little mustache might have had something to do with getting the girl … but probably not.

Lando Calrissian mustache
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Lando Calrissian

Lando Calrissian, played by the delightful Billy Dee Williams, boasts one of the greatest mustaches in the galaxy. If you were to behold Lando’s mustache in the halls of Cloud City, you might hear yourself say, “That thing’s operational!”

Nick Offerman AKA Ron Swanson
Harmony Gerber / Getty Images

Ron Swanson

Nick Offreman’s character on beloved series Parks And Recreation  was known for his staunch Libertarian views almost as much as his staunch ‘stache. Offerman still carries the facial hair for certain, most recently as lawyer Karl Weathers in the series remake of Fargo.

Magnum-PI Tom-Selleck mustache
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Magnum, P.I.

Private Investigator Thomas Magnum was Tom Selleck’s breakout role and the world’s introduction to one of the best mustaches of all time. Selleck’s ‘stache continues its glorious reign as Police Commissioner Francis Regan on Blue Bloods.

Modern mustaches

The following men must have stroked and twisted their mustaches as they dreamt up new ways to change the world.

John Waters
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John Waters

Waters has said no to the full mustache since he hit the film scene over forty years ago. He’s been sporting his pencil-thin style since Pink Flamingos and it looks like he’ll be taking it to the grave along with his pension for weird movies.

Freddie Mercury mustache
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Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury’s mustache was an undeniable part of his legendary onstage presence. As far as rock ‘staches go, Mercury’s is definitely the champion.

Wilford Brimley
Imeh Akpanudosen / Gettty Images

Wilford Brimley

While you may be familiar with Brimley only from his stint as a diabetes spokesman, you might not know that he was a farmer and rodeo rider before age and weight gain prompted him to turn to acting where his mustache took a starring role in such films as The Thing, Cocoon, and The China Syndrome.

Alex Trebek 1984
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Alex Trebek

The former Jeopardy host had an on-and-off-again mustache throughout the show’s 25-plus-year reign on television. The ’80s and ’90s era Trebek is one of legend. The photo featured above is from his first season in 1984.

Rollie fingers
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Rollie Fingers

While we can’t make the claim that Fingers’ curled and waxed ‘stache carried the the Philadelphia A’s to more victories than normal, we can make the claim that Fingers brought facial hair back to baseball after a nearly 50-year absence.

Gene-Wilder-Young-Frankenstein
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Gene Wilder

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the greatest actors of all time. Wilder’s wit and on-screen magic were routinely matched by his tidy upper lip in films like “Willy Wonka” and “Young Frankenstein.”

Jonathan Van Ness standing on the red carpet in front of a blue step and repeat at the Creative Arts Emmys 2018
Shutterstock

Jonathan Van Ness

For someone known for their mastery in hair care, Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness sure knows how to groom a mustache. The curled tips are reminiscent of a bygone era, referencing old-school ‘staches while playing with the modern concept of masculinity. Combined with a face full of stubble and long locks, Jonathan’s hair game is truly one of the most instantly recognizable around today.

Clark Gable
Getty Images

More famous mustaches

Here’s a list of more famous mustaches, real and fictional:

Classic Hollywood

  • Clark Gable: His signature pencil mustache oozed Hollywood charm and sophistication, forever linked to his role as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.
  • Charlie Chaplin: The tiny toothbrush mustache became synonymous with the silent film legend’s comedic persona, bringing both laughter and mischief to the silver screen.
  • Groucho Marx: The thick, bushy brows and glasses combined with his wide, painted mustache created na instantly recognizable comedic image, fueling the slapstick humor of the Marx Brothers.

Fictional characters

  • Hercule Poirot: Agatha Christie’s detective relied on his distinctive, meticulously groomed mustache to add an air of authority and intellect to his crime-solving endeavors.
  • Mario: The Nintendo mascot’s bushy, wedge-shaped mustache is instantly recognizable, adding a playful touch to his video game adventures.
  • Wile E. Coyote: The cartoon villain’s perpetually drooping mustache embodies his haplessness and comedic failures in his endless pursuit of the Road Runner.

Enjoy this list of famous mustaches, and if you really love any of them, maybe style your ‘stache after one of them. You might not become famous, but you can try.

Hunter Reis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Hunter has worked with E! News and Entertainment Tonight, where he won a Daytime Emmy in 2022 for video production.
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