Hair loss has been with us throughout history. Since the first surgical hair loss solution occurred only a century ago in 1822, and while wigs were a fashion in late 16th to 18th century Europe and America, for the most part, bald leaders and historic figures were generally known to have hair loss.
That didn’t stop some famous bald leaders from trying to minimize the appearance of their hair loss. According to reports, Julius Caesar embraced the Greek style of wearing a laurel crown to conceal his thinning hair. When compared to written descriptions from their contemporaries, formal portraits and statues have often been found to present famous bald guys with more hair than they actually had or depict them wearing hats, helms, crowns, etc. to cover up thinning hair.
Who Is the Most Famous Bald Guy?
Famous is difficult to measure under the best of circumstances. When “most famous” is cited in context of all of history, it’s even more difficult. So, let’s break it down by categories of fame or infamy.
When discussing famous bald guys from media and pop culture, men either shaving their heads or not concealing their hair loss has become more common in recent years – which is ironic since natural-looking, permanent hair loss solutions are now available for many types of hair loss. Once upon a time, iconic actors Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas were the exceptions for embracing their baldness and turning it into part of their style and sex appeal. Most actors hid it.
Some famous bald guys have occasionally worn hair pieces or toupees for specific roles… such as Bruce Willis, Sean Connery, and Stanley Tucci. Actors and celebrities known for their hair loss include:
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Vin Diesel
- Jason Statham
- Patrick Stewart
- Damon Wayans
- JK Simmons
- Terry Crews
- Ed Harris
Famous bald criminals vary from hair loss only on their crown to those who are completely bald. Such hair-deprived criminals include mobster Al Capone, “BTK Killer” Dennis Rader, “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway, and the con man and forger Frank Abagnale – who was featured in the movie Catch Me If You Can.
Famous bald women are a trickier list to create. Female pattern hair loss tends to involve overall thinning… which can often be camouflaged with certain hair styles, scarves, or hats; instead of the hairless crown or complete baldness men tend to experience.
Also, many lists of “bald women” include women who shaved their heads for a movie role, a cause, style, etc. like Grace Jones, Charlize Theron, Lupita Nyong’o, Karen Gillan, Sigourney Weaver, Danai Gurira, Jessie J., Anne Hathaway, Persis Khambatta, Tilda Swinton, and Sinead O’Connor – to name a few. Women actually experiencing significant hair loss will often conceal it because of society’s expectations about women’s hair, unlike the male celebrities listed above.
Congressional Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) surprised many in January 2020 when she admitted to having lost her hair and unveiling her bald head to the public. She said she went public so she could move past the shame she felt about a change to her appearance that she couldn’t control.
Other well-known famous bald guys who are public figures from history, sports, music, etc. include:
- William Shakespeare
- Michael Jordan
- Charles Darwin
- Shaquille O’Neal
- The Dalai Lama
- Magic Johnson
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Charles Barkley
- David Simon
What Made Mahatma Gandhi Bald?
The revered Indian political figure and activist Mohandas Gandhi, also referred to as Mahatma Gandhi, is best known for his image in later years when he had a smooth scalp – but the cause of his hair loss is complicated. In 1921, Gandhi began shaving his head and wearing khadi dhoti instead of the European style suits he had worn as a lawyer. His tour of South India led him to want to identify with its poorest citizens, thus his desire to simplify his life and stop wearing imported, machine-made clothing.
However, at a certain point, Gandhi began to lose his hair, reducing his need to shave his head. Whether it was from male pattern hair loss, nutritional deficiencies from dietary changes and prolonged fasting as a part of civil protest, or a mix of both is unknown.
Are There Any Bald World Leaders?
Throughout history, a number of bald leaders have had positions of power all over the world. From the 16th through 18th century the European fashion to wear wigs, powdered or not, began with King Louis XIV of France wanting to conceal his hair loss. Many other politicians, kings, and leaders followed.
However, not all bald leaders hid their hair loss. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who helped to end the Cold War and allowed the opening and destruction of the Berlin Wall, had significant hair loss. As did Vladimir Lenin, the revolutionary and founder of Soviet Russia. So does the current Russian leader Vladimir Putin and former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
WWII fascist leader Benito Mussolini also suffered from hair loss. On the Allies side, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is another bald leader from WWII. Chairman Mao Zedong, revolutionary and founder of the People’s Republic of China also had hair loss on his crown.
Who Was the First Bald President?
Who the first bald American president was will depend upon your definition of “bald.”
The very first president, George Washington, had a receding hairline that showed the front part of his crown. His vice president and then successor, John Adams, had obviously defined baldness with just a ring of hair around the sides and nothing on the crown. His son and the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, had the same type of hair loss.
Even eliminating those men with somewhat receding hairline, several presidents thereafter had significant hair loss. Those include Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and James K. Polk.
Some argue that no one with significant hair loss has been elected in the “age of television.” Those who say that point to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was elected in 1952. Americans had television then, but it didn’t have the level of household penetration that it did eight years later when John F. Kennedy was elected.
Gerald Ford also had significant hair loss, but he was not directly elected to office and therefore doesn’t count in the theory. Ford was appointed to the vice presidency by Richard M. Nixon after the vice president he ran for office with, Spiro Agnew, resigned over a corruption scandal. Then Nixon himself had to resign to avoid impeachment over Watergate and its coverup, putting Ford into the presidency without having been elected to that role. Ford then lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.
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