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TV's Greatest 'Staches: Bringin' Bushy Back

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jun 7th 2010 6:00PM
Bradley Whitford as Lt. Dan Stark on Last week's premiere of Matt Nix's 'The Good Guys' on Fox brought something back to TV that's been desperately needed, other than a cop show that doesn't take itself too seriously and a satirical TV sitcom that's actually funny.

It brought back the "'stache," that glorious physical indicator of a man's virility and willingness to face danger, literally face first. And, mind you, these aren't just mustaches. These are "'staches," fuzzy face fluffers that draw huge amounts of attention by refusing to conform to much subtler forms of facial hair. They say, "I'm dangerous, I'm daring and I'm clearly in denial because I'm so pissed we're not living in the hard drinking and fast partying world of the 1970s, so back off punk."

Recent TV hasn't sported many until Bradley Whitford's hairy hood ornament practically stole the show, but there was a time when these fuzzy lip slugs filled up the TV screen and weren't just reserved for foreign heads of state, Journey back-up singers or classic porn stars. Here are some of TV's fuzzy forefathers that blazed a hairy path to freedom.

6. Rick Simon from 'Simon and Simon'
Gerald McRainey from 'Simon and Simon'Television has one hard and fast rule for becoming a private eye: you gotta be tough. You won't spend your days looking into the private past of future fiances or tracking dog missing dogs for some rich widow. You'll be hitting the meanest streets of whatever town you're stuck in, chasing down huge government conspiracies and plots so thick that you can caramelize apples with them. So you better look and act like you could take a two-by-four to the face.

The rougher half of the P.I. team of 'Simon and Simon' had just such a face, thanks in part to his mighty philtrum protector. He was the ex-military and muscle side of the business while his book smart brother A.J. did most of the brain work. Actor Gerald McRaney carried his trademark to other shows like 'Major Dad' and 'Promised Land,' but the 'stache carried him, both physically and figuratively, on 'Simon and Simon' more than he carried it on those other shows.

5. Earl Hickey from 'My Name is Earl'
Jason Lee from 'My Name is Earl'Unlike most of TV's upper mandible mustachioed men, Earl Hickey is a force for peace, not wanton destruction. He views acts of kindness and generosity as holy contributions to his 401K of karma. Of course, he had his 'stache for awhile, long before he found enlightenment on an episode of 'Last Call with Carson Daly,' so that may not speak well for his intelligence

But as television has taught us time and time again (i.e. Manuel on 'Fawlty Towers,' Patrick on 'SpongeBob SquarePants,') ignorance isn't necessarily as bad of a quality as loyalty or intention. Sure it gets you into a lot of trouble, but if Earl wasn't a smart guy, the show wouldn't have been as enjoyable as it was. He also would have had the good sense to know that growing a big hairy slug on your face stopped being fashionable in 1987.

4. Sgt. Floyd Pepper from 'The Muppet Show'
Sgt. Floyd Pepper from Electric Mayhem
Back in the '70s, it was a requirement -- nay, a federal law -- that the bassist of every rock band had to have a large, bushy 'stache. Some struggling bassists with lower than average hormone levels found themselves resorting to dangerous growth treatment that would cause to chemical dependencies and illegal uses of horse testosterone. Thankfully, the Muppet Studio only had to use a few bits of yarn and some spirit gum to keep Electric Mayhem's bassist in the letter of the law.

Jim Henson's 60's rock inspired addition to 'The Muppet Show' featured this gravely voiced slow jammer who wore a Sgt. Pepper uniform and a big honkin' 'stache under his big honkin' honker. The character's outfit changed several times to meet the stylish, fashionable needs of the state of rock music at that time. The uniform may have changed over time, but his mighty mouth cover has stuck with him ever since. Taking it away would be like cutting off Gonzo's long crooked nose, replacing Fozzie's hat with a fez or making Statler and Waldorf dish out well thought out and fair critiques of live theater and YouTube videos.

3. Capt. Stottlemeyer from 'Monk'

Capt. Stottlemeyer from 'Monk'If you're looking to intimidate the bad guys and make even the strongest pillars of strength crack under the pressure of a police interrogation, there are any number of steps you can take to change from you status from "good cop" to "bad cop." You can start a strict diet of proteins that incorporate a daily three hour workout with free weights and mile sprints. You can carry a hand cannon with a barrel that's the length and width of a baby's arm and requires bullet cartridges that can house a small woodland creature. You can develop breathing skills that will allow you to puff up like an Eastern Hognose snake.

If you'd rather just take the direct route, you could grow a face shrubbery like Capt. Stottlemeyer who uses his lip accessory to bully the bad guys into talking and keep Monk focused in between his various nervous breakdowns.

2. Victor Newman from 'The Young and the Restless'
Victor Newman from 'The Young and the Restless'Evil comes in many forms, but in television, it can easily be identified with facial hair. Evil twins always have some kind of stylish goatee to distinguish their evilness from their goody-two-shoes doppleganger, even if the evil twin isn't old enough to grow anything longer than Astroturf on their face.

This evil millionaire from the long-running CBS soap opera exudes the very essence of evil, thanks in part to the evil aura of his nostril doormat. It not only helps him follow the television law that require really evil people to wear facial hair, but it also enhances his sinister smirk and trademark smile. Sure he may have just pushed a woman into a vat of highly flammable acid, but that evil grin accentuated by his hairy mouth canopy just makes you wish you could jump through the TV and smother him with kisses, er, um or so I'm told by some hot chick I was dating who watched the show ... a lot.

1. Thomas Magnum from 'Magnum P.I.'
Thomas Magnum from 'Magnum P.I.'Was their any doubt in your mind that the 1980's greatest TV detective would score the top spot of this list ? If so, you don't watch a lot of TV and therefore lead a full and productive life. I sympathize with you.

Tom Magnum had lots of neat stuff that made him cool: a souped up Ferrari, a house that overlooked a beautiful beach, a wise-cracking friend with a helicopter, a collection of Hawaiian shirts that could make "Weird Al" Yankovic organize a fashion intervention.

But the coolest, by far, was his booger safety net. He not only set the facial hair standard for most of the 1980s but for all future TV detectives and crime fighters for years to come. His face bumper is so popular that the Internet is trying to petition the Vatican to canonize him as the "Patron Saint of Mustaches." And by him, we don't mean Magnum or even Tom Selleck. We mean the actual 'stache.

What are your favorite TV mustaches?

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don't forget, mike farrell's stache was "CHEESEY" according to hawkeye. I gotta agree

June 09 2010 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply



June 09 2010 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always thought that Roseannes was great.

June 09 2010 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Howcould you forget Gene Shallit

June 09 2010 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How could you possibly leave out longtime movie reviewer Gene Shalit? His moustache was iconic - it could have carried the show by itself while Gene went on vacation.

June 09 2010 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Best Mustache: Groucho Marx "You Bet Your Life"

Worst Mustache: Mike Farrell "MASH"

June 09 2010 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anthony Eisley on 'Hawaiian Eye.'

June 09 2010 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Definitely Sam Elliot, and don't forget Stacy Keach's "Mike Hammer".

June 09 2010 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about Sam Elliot's mustache and the sexy voice?

June 09 2010 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


You could find a place on your list for some soap opera guy, but not television's most beloved civil servant???

Cliff Claven's mustache (and by extension, John Ratzenberger's mustache) demands justice!!!

Cliff Claven and his mustache belong firmly at Number 2, right behind Magnum, P.I.

And as Cliff Claven might say, "An interesting thing about Private Investigatahs: they were cawled gum shoes because they use'ta stick gum on the bottom of their shoes to keep the leather soles from squeekin'."

June 08 2010 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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