At the moment when a twenty-something man realizes that he will not live the rest of his life with his full head of hair, he will generally go into an immediate state of mourning for his hair before it is even gone. At least, that’s what happened to me, when, at 24, I noticed that my hairline was receding, slowly depleting the dense mass of my glorious jewfro. Young men have lots of time-tested responses to going bald. Some shave their heads clean as if they were some sort of professional athlete. Others adopt a trademark piece of headgear, say a ballcap or a fedora, which they don at all occasions. Many allow themselves to be bullied by self-esteem-assaulting commercials for dubious “medical” treatments for their condition. Some join weird online communities about coping with hair loss. And plenty just feel shitty all the time about their follicle-challenged crowns.
If you find yourself a present or future bald guy, you can take any of these approaches, if you’re so inclined. But you can also just keep on living your life and being who you are, without worrying about your loss of hair. Which is the recommended approach. To that end, we present this list of awesome bald guys who OWNED their baldness, whose lives would have been no less awesome had they had kept their hair for the duration, to provide inspiration on how you should be living your life.
Bill Murray In the late 70s, as Murray was beginning his ascent into the upper echelons of America’s collective heart, his hairline was already receding. Go back and watch Stripes or Ghostbusters or Groundhog Day – Murray always gets the girl, not because he has a perfect head of hair, but because he’s charming, funny and awesome. Even in middle age, when he played the aging Casanova character in Broken Flowers, it was believable – what he lacked in looks he made up for in sweet Fred Perry jumpsuits.
Pablo Picasso Despite going bald as he entered middle age, Picasso continued to get laid by some of the world’s most beautiful women up until his death, which should be an inspiration to us all. He did have a leg up, in the fact that he was the single most important figure in 20th Century Art. But still, look at that mug shot. Fame or no, dude just looks vital.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise I know it’s fucking heresy and all, but as a young Star Trek fan, I always liked Picard better than Kirk. Though most traditionalist nerds would disagree, I still stand by that preference, mostly because the guy who played Picard is one of the most accomplished British actors ever and the guy who played Kirk is a giant blowhard doofus.
Michael Jordan Jordan will go down in history as the best basketball player ever, the original sports brand and the dude who made it cool for black guys to be bald (I didn’t make that up – it’s a pretty common thing people say about baldness). While LeBron James continues to hike up his
headband to camouflage his expanding forehead, Jordan owned it. Bald-dude hall-of-famer (as well as NBA).
Jesse “The Body” Ventura Now, while I wouldn’t have voted for Jesse Ventura, and disagree with most of his politics, I have to admire his accomplishments. He, in no particular order, was elected to Minnesota’s
governorship on a third party ticket, trained as a Navy Seal, was a champion professional wrestler and co-starred in a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. AND, he didn’t rock the Hulk-Hogan-covering-my-baldness-with-long-hair-and-a-bandana look.
Paul Simon Sadly, there aren’t enough rock stars on this list, because either they rock toupees (David Lee Roth), look kind of creepy (Michael Stipe, Billy Corgan, Moby) or have awesome full heads of hair (like, all the other musicians). But Paul Simon is super underrated as he’s one of the best American songwriters of the last 50 years. AND, for years, he rocked the long, thinning hair look, which, if you made Graceland, you could do too.
Larry David America’s most beloved curmudgeon Jew has given the world two of the funniest TV sitcoms in history. He also once famously said, “Women love a self-confident bald man. Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man—there’s your diamond in the rough.” Words to take to heart as you rub monoxodil into your scalp and pretend that the sparse peach fuzz it encourages makes you look any better.
Jason Statham I purposely avoided putting too many people on this list who shave their head, because it’s somewhat of a diversion technique, isn’t it? But Statham gets a pass for two reasons: Crank and Crank 2:High Voltage. Best action movies of the last decade. Not to digress, but how about that scene when another cool bald person, Dwight Yoakam, playing Doc Miles, says to Chev Chelios, “Chev, I’m a certified heart surgeon. Well, I was. Lost my license after I fucked up my ex-wife’s vaginal rejuvenation procedure in our basement. That’s irrelevant right now. The point is – if you get hold of your heart, I’m reasonably sure I can put it back in for you.” Is that not one of the better lines in all of American cinema?
David Cross I remember being a teenager, watching Mr. Show with Bob and David, and thinking that David Cross looked so young to already be so bald, but he really didn’t seem to give a fuck about it. In the ensuing years, Cross’s comedy taught myself and millions of other cynical, sarcastic millennials to call bullshit when we saw it. He didn’t give a fuck then and hasn’t given a fuck since.
The bald lifeguard on Baywatch – His name, in both real life and in the show was Michael “Newmie” Newman and apparently, he really was a lifeguard, so he essentially played himself. But to a generation of syndicated TV watchers, he’ll always be “that bald, mustachioed lifeguard from Baywatch, who never said anything but was in, like, every scene.” If he wasn’t bald, would we even remember him?
David Simon I’ve written in the past how David Simon is the best, but to quickly re-cap: David Simon made The Wire, which is the most important American work of culture since Huckleberry Finn, and I don’t say that to be hyperbolic or snarky. I say it because it’s staggeringly true. I defy anyone to name another work that redefined the scope of a medium while masterfully boiling a true representation of their American moment down into a sprawling, heartbreaking, interlocking narrative that prompted everyone who experienced the work to demand all their close friends to experience it as well. Name one. You can’t. I rest my case. Beyond that, David Simon is a guy who steadfastly believes in right and wrong, and, who became a journalist because he believed a strong press is a moral imperative for a free democracy. He’s not only a role model for bald dudes. He’s a role model for everybody
Winston Churchill Little known fact about Winston Churchill. He was a LADYKILLER. Not really. But he did spend 40 years in public life, serving his country in the armed forces and the government, going on to be one of the Big Three and helping the Allies secure victory in WWII, all while not having that much hair. Also, he was selected as the Greatest Briton of all time. Suck it, John Lennon.
Tony Soprano While I was sick in bed over the weekend, I rewatched a season’s worth of Soprano’s episodes. One of the things I forgot about the show is that female characters were always talking about how attractive Tony was. Now, if you look at a picture James Gandolfini, the first word that comes into your mind probably isn’t “attractive.” More likely than not, it’s something like “Philly cheesesteak” or “double bacon donut burger”. But in the show, Gandolfini’s Tony moved with such agency and force, baldness and huskiness made no difference. He was a fucking heartthrob (to a certain class of Italian-American New Jersey-ite).
Rob Corddry There’s already a handful of comedians on this list, making clear the point that if you can make up for the loss of your hair by being funny, you’ll (probably) get to be rich, famous and happy. Though I do think Corddry is hilarious, I mostly wanted to include him on the list because of what he says at the start of this old ‘This Week in God’ segment from the Daily Show. I really, really like that joke.
William Shakespeare Yup. You never thought about it before, did you, but look at the picture. Old Billy Shakespeare had a forehead like Beldar from Planet Remulak. Did that stop him from being the greatest writer in the history of the English Language? Nope!
My Dad If I could be cheesy and serious for just one minute, I should note that while my bald dad never got to be rich and famous, he did spend 40 years teaching school principals how to be better school principals. It was hard work that he was proud of and that he believed made the world a better place. Being bald didn’t stop him from building a happy, successful life, marrying a great woman or raising two sons, who would both grow to be bald themselves. Huzzah pops (and congrats on retiring!).
The whole point of this list has been to say that despite our body-obsessed culture and the men’s magazines surveys that say women prefer men with hair, bald dudes can be just as great as dudes with hair. In reality, there are, like, two things you can’t do if you’re bald: be in a boy band and be president of the United States of America after 1980 (seriously, think about it). And you weren’t gonna do either of those things anyways. So, bald and balding peers, take a good look at this list. The two things all these guys have in common is they all lost their hair and they’re all fucking awesome. God is already taking your hair away. Now it’s just up to you be awesome.
Henry Goldman is founder of YR AN ADULT.