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Meet the Professor: 1935

Meet the Professor: 1935

October 1935. Resident of Omar, West Virginia, seen here recently. 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The Toothbrush

My grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, wore "The Toothbrush" for most of his adult life, including throughout WWII. No one at that time considered it a "Hitler mustache." It was pretty common. Previously, it was better known because Charlie Chaplin sported the same style.

On one hand, I feel sad that men who wore it are labelled because of the later view if the mustache, and, on the other, I am rather glad that it has fallen out of favour. It really is a silly-looking thing.


You know, Hitler killed this once not-too-uncommon "hairstyle" the same way he ruined Adolf as a baby name.

I'm more interested in the interesting demeanor of the man than in his (now-weird-looking) mustache.


That style of moustache is known as the 'Toothbrush.' It was quite a popular style in the 1920s and 1930s. It's been made famous because of Hitler, but I assure you that many everyday folk also sported the same style.

Hitler had a mustache?

I was thinking of Charlie Chaplin...

Seriously, I don't think the world understood how evil Hitler was until after 1935 (I know Omar, WV didn't), hence the "Back when it was OK to have a mustache like that..."

Re. Mustache

If you're comparing his mustache to that of Hitler, one must remember that in 1935 Hitler was idolized by many around the world. During his short reign of power he received more fan letters than Mick Jagger, Madonna and the Beatles combined.

[How many letters would that be? And how would we know how many fan letters Mick, Madonna et al have gotten. I'm fascinated by statistics. - Dave]


Kind of a puzzle as to why they'd have a poster out for this particular movie. "Meet The Professor" was an 18 minute short produced by Mentone Productions, which I assume was making shorts for Universal on a contract basis. According to IMDB this short starred Clarence Nordstrom, Joe Downing and Bernice Claire along with the Columbia University Band. IMDB doesn't have much beyond the birth and death dates for Nordstrom or Downing but Bernice Claire had been a star in the first burst of musicals following the introduction of sound, along with her singing partner Alexander Gray (they were the equivalent of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy). By 1935 she was largely forgotten and was doing shorts - this one for Mentone and then two more for Warner Brothers - before getting out of the movies entirely. Born in 1907, she died in January 2003 at age 95.


Back when it was OK to have a mustache like that...

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