The toothbrush mustache is a style of moustache that is characterized by a bushy section of facial hair centered over the middle third of the upper lip. Unlike the horizontal and tapered design of most moustaches, the toothbrush moustache has the appearance of a rectangle situated in a direct center of the upper lip and up to the base of the nose. While this style was employed by a number of popular entertainers during the first few decades of the 20th century, toothbrush moustaches quickly fell out of favor during World War II, owing to Adolf Hitler.
In the early years of the 20th century, a number of beloved entertainers sported a toothbrush moustache. Oliver Hardy, one-half of the popular vaudeville and movie duo of Laurel and Hardy, made this style of moustache famous with a number of men around the country. The great movie star Charlie Chaplin employed the look of the toothbrush moustache for one his most enduring comedic characters, the Little Tramp. Behind the scenes, studio greats such as Max Fleisher also sported a toothbrush moustache in daily life.
For many people in the West, the toothbrush moustache lost all appeal after the rise of the Third Reich in Germany, and the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler as the head of the German State. Various sources provide different reasons for Hitler adopting the toothbrush moustache, with some claiming it had to do with trimming his larger moustache to fit neatly under a mustard gas mask. Other sources indicate he adopted the toothbrush moustache because it was very distinctive and helped him to stand out in the crowd as he began his rise as a politician and political leader.
By the 1950’s, the toothbrush moustache was often referred to as a Hitler moustache. As a moustache option for men in western countries, the toothbrush design was not considered worth consideration. Movies of the day would often utilize the toothbrush moustache as part of the appearance of any character considered to be evil or up to no good. During this time, the image of the moustache that had been crafted by such entertainment icons as Oliver Hardy and Charlie Chaplin was completely overshadowed by the image of Hitler as dictator.
Even today, the toothbrush moustache remains very unpopular in many circles, especially the West. This style of moustache has found some popularity with some hate groups on the fringes of society, which has only tended to strengthen the perceived relationship between the toothbrush moustache and the presence of evil. It is not likely that toothbrush moustaches will enjoy a resurgence of popularity among the general populace any time soon.