Iconic Hair Moments in Hollywood History

Updated on December 13, 2018
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

There's no doubt that celebrities are undeniable trendsetters--for better or for worse. From beehives to bouffants, "The Rachel" to the mop top, celebrities have been popularizing looks and styles for decades. They create fads and trends with the hairstyles they adopt. Here's a look at some of the most iconic hair moments in pop culture history.

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Veronica Lake’s Side Part & Waves

1940s film actress and hair icon Veronica Lake introduced the famous peek-a-boo/witchlock hairstyle in 1942. The extreme side part and cascading waves continue to be emulated today, when someone wants to exude Hollywood glamour. Lake came upon her signature style by accident, when she was filming a scene in I Wanted Wings. The actress’ long blonde hair accidentally fell over her right up in a take, creating a peek-a-boo effect.

She had said, “I was playing a sympathetic drunk, I had my arm on the table...it slipped...and my hair—it was always baby fine and had this natural break—fell over my face...It became my trademark and purely by accident." The hair moment inspired women all across the country to copy Lake’s sexy hairstyle.

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Marilyn Monroe’s Bleached & Curled Hair

Few hairstyles are more recognizable than Marilyn Monroe’s famous blonde mane. The sex symbol and icon was known for her curly, bleach blonde hair that was often worn short. The color and style, paired with her signature bright red lips and black winged eyeliner, became synonymous with her sultry image. It is said that Monroe’s hairdresser tried 9 different shades of blonde before finally settling on her famous hue.

In order to maintain her platinum mane, the actress had to color her hair every three weeks. Monroe’s look continues to remain one of the most mimicked and sought after beauty looks both in and out of Hollywood. Her blonde locks inspired both past and present women to adopt the sexy look, and it remains a famous hairstyle to this day.

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Bettie Page’s Blunt Bangs

One of the most renowned pin-up girls of the 1950s, Bettie Page was very controversial due to her style and posing she adopted in her photographs. She embraced her sexuality and wasn't afraid to dress a little risque; Page was referred to as the "queen of pin-up." The beauty was known for her long, raven locks with bangs that were cut shorter on the sides and longer towards the middle. The blunt bangs became her staple, and were emulated by women across the country.

The unique haircut and style has since inspired decades of imitation and adoration, with countless celebrities embracing the retro look. Though her modeling career only lasted around seven years, Page was able to become a beauty icon adored by many.

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James Dean’s Slicked Back Hair

America's original Rebel Without A Cause, James Dean, remains one of the greatest style and grooming inspirations for men across the world. Dean's trademark hair was simple yet effective: slicked back yet voluminous, with a slight wave and effortless finish. The actor and style icon would wear his hair a little longer, with a "devil may care" attitude that was the opposite of the other neat and clean shaven men of the time. His hairstyle is prominent in the movies he starred in, and remains instantly recognizable.

Despite only starring in three major films, Dean was the epitome of cool and his overall fashion and style continues to be replicated to this day. His effortlessly slicked back hair remains a favorite hairstyle for men.

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Jackie Kennedy’s Bouffant

In 1961, First Lady Jackie Kennedy attended her husband's inauguration with her hair styled in a bouffant, a look that would quickly be copied by women across the country. The bouffant was popular in the 1950s, but became heavily debated when people wondered how flattering and healthy the backcomb was for hair. Though she was not the first person to adopt the style, Kennedy gave it status and staying power until the end of the sixties.

The First Lady had many hair transformations, but the bouffant remains one of her most famous looks. Her role as a style icon not only is attributed to her sophisticated and classy fashion, but also her swept up voluminous bouffant and flipped out ends.

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The Beatles’s Mop-Top

It's wild to think that the Beatles' mop-top hair was considered scandalously long in the 1960s, with the look being imitated worldwide between 1964 and 1966. The haircut earned its name from its resemblance to a mop, or "Arthur" among fans. Not only did the style cause a hair craze across the globe, it also led toy manufacturers to begin producing real-hair and plastic "Beatle Wigs." The mop-top would become a symbol of youth and being effortlessly cool, as well as being synonymous with the Beatles' brand.

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Twiggy’s Mod Look

Fashion model Twiggy was the ultimate 60's icon, and her edgy and unique look was a powerful symbol for that period. With her waif frame and big Bambi eyes, Twiggy really started a revolution when she adopted her tomboy crop. She was one of the first models to rock a short, sporty haircut and androgynous cut. At a time when models tended to be rich, society girls, Twiggy transformed the way people wore their hair and their idea of fashion and beauty. The edgy cut can be seen all around the world, both past and present, and the model remains an icon in both style and hair.

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Mia Farrow’s Pixie Cut

Actress and social activist Mia Farrow had her breakout role in 1968's Rosemary's Baby, and while the film garnered much buzz, so did her hair. Farrow is credited with introducing the world to the pixie cut, a style that the actress says she created. The cut is often credited to the late Vidal Sassoon, due to a scene from the film. However, Farrow is adamant she crafted the pixie cut that would sweep the nation by storm.

She once explained to The New York Times, "I had literally cut it myself earlier that year--with a pair of fingernail scissors--while working on the Peyton Place TV series at Fox Studios. This was long before I ever hear of Vidal Sassoon. My then boyfriend, Frank Sinatra, loved the cut, and so I kept it short." The hairstyle remains one of the most popular cuts across the country, 50 years later.

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Farrah Fawcett’s Feathered Look

Farrah Fawcett's big, bouncy mane became the true breakout star of the 1970s classic show Charlie's Angels. The actress garnered much attention for her feathered and thick tresses, a look that was crafted by celebrity hairstylist Allen Edwards. It revolutionized the way women styled their hair, and encouraged them to embrace volume and body. The "Farrah" quickly became a craze that had ladies running to the nearest salon. Fawcett's feathered curls and big blowouts were the envy of the 1970s, and continue to be replicated today.

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Dorothy Hamill’s Wedge

After she became the 1976 Olympic ladies figure skating champion, Dorothy Hamill went on to be known for her famous wedge haircut. The "Dorothy Hamill Haircut" became very popular after she won the gold medal, and her hairstyle received national attention that inspired little girls across the country to get the cut. Audiences couldn't get enough of the bouncy and short hairstyle, that instantly became a fad.

Hairstylist Yusuke Suga was behind the famous cut, that ultimately led to endorsement deals from products such as White Rain hair products. Of the hair fad, Hamill has said, "I had no idea this wedge style would become so famous. I just thought if I had to have short hair anyway, I might as well have something fashionable."

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Bob Marley’s Dreadlocks

Musical and cultural icon Bob Marley was a follower of the Rastafarian religion, and was a strict follower of dreadlocks and cannabis. His musical career helped start the 'ska' movement, and ultimately progressed towards reggae music. Being a Rastafarian, Marley closely practiced the religion's rules to keep your body as a whole, which included maintaining his signature dreadlocks. Though he did not create the style, the musician helped popularize the famous style, that has since been worn by prominent actors, authors, athletes and rappers.

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Meg Ryan’s Shaggy Lob

Before there was "The Rachel," there was "The Meg." America's sweetheart Meg Ryan was one of the most successful actresses in the 1990s and early 2000s, primarily known for her roles in films such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and City of Angels. The actress's famous short, shaggy, layered bob inspired women across America to get the same trendy cut. Ryan became a 90s style icon and her haircut remains one of the best in pop culture.

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Princess Diana's Short Style

There's no denying that the late Princess Diana was a style icon, and her hair was always important in completing her look. The beauty wore her hair parted on the side with major layers, and the haircut inspired many women to take the plunge and chop off their locks. In 1990, Diana had a British Vogue photo shoot that seemingly immortalized her prolific haircut. Hairstylist Sam McKnight was in charge of her styling that day, and made her hair look short when paired with a tiara.

According to McKnight's new book Hair, he had said, "As she was leaving, Diana asked what would I do to her hair if I had free reign...I suggested cutting it short and she, to my surprise, agreed, and we did it there and then." It's fascinating to learn that a haircut that helped shape a decade of style was done spur of the moment, without an appointment.

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Jennifer Aniston’s “The Rachel”

"The Rachel" was a layered shag that became an overnight sensation when Jennifer Aniston sported the cut on the mega-hit show Friends. The smooth, full bodied hairstyle almost caused as big of a frenzy as the show itself. Women everywhere ran to their local hair salons in order to get the Rachel Green inspired locks. Aniston herself was actually not a big fan of the iconic hair craze, having felt it was "kind of cringe-y for me." She expressed that it was just to hard to maintain without professional help.

In a 2011 interview with Allure Magazine, Aniston said, "I think it was the ugliest haircut I'd ever seen. How did that thing have legs?" While the actress may not have been to thrilled by the cut, women across the country proudly rocked "The Rachel."

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Halle Berry’s Pixie Cut

Academy Award winner Halle Berry is known for her stunning pixie cut that she began rocking when she was around 19. Of her decision to go against the grain and cut off her locks, the actress expressed to the Huffington Post, "Cutting my hair was freeing. Someone saying you're beautiful and the fact that you have no hair makes you even more beautiful, said to me it's not about my hair. It's about something else we emanate. I've lived with that my whole life." Regardless of if she wears her hair long or short, Berry is absolutely stunning. She changed the standards of beauty and encouraged others to embrace the pixie cut.

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Keri Russell's Chopped Hair

Keri Russell starred as the titular character in the successful WB series Felicity, where she was famous for her long, curly tresses. The character had a drastic hairstyle change at the beginning of the show's second season, a transformation that ultimately caused a significant drop in the show's ratings. By cutting her hair and opting for a short, super curly style, it caused a national uproar. Russell herself has since said she was happy with the change regardless, and has no regrets. In a recent interview with Women's Magazine, the actress expressed, "I did not expect all the hysteria. I feel like it was the right move and I'm really glad they did it."

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Aaliyah’s Long Side Bangs

The late and talented R&B star Aaliyah was known for her signature long black hair, with the one-sided swoop that often covered her eye. Aaliyah would often rock sunglasses with her famous 'do, and when she removed them her hair would fall over her left eye. She was said to have been inspired by the classic film star Veronica Lake. Not only was the stunning songstress a style icon, but her tresses were envied and copied by girls across the country. Her signature side bang was emulated by many, and though her life was tragically cut short, Aaliyah remains forever a beauty trend-setter.

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Amy Winehouse’s Beehive

The late blue-eyed soul singer Amy Winehouse was known for her retro and unique style, which was only amplified by the beehive she successfully sported. She paired the 1960s inspired hairstyle with bold red lipstick, thick eyebrows and heavy eyeliner. The petite singer was only 5'3, and the beehive added height to her slim frame. Winehouse was a huge fan of the 1960s girl groups, and her then stylist borrowed the beehive hairdo and Cleopatra makeup from The Ronettes. The retro style became synonymous with Winehouse, who rocked the look up until her untimely passing at 27.

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Victoria Beckham’s Angled Bob

Victoria Beckham's angled bob represented the former Spice Girls' transition from chart-topping girl group member to a credible and successful fashion designer. The Pob, as it was affectionately known, was copied by fans and celebrities across the world, most notably Katie Holmes. The asymmetrical cut created a very popular fashion trend among women, and was known for its modern and stylish look. The style is textured and flattering for various face shapes, and with the hair longer in the front, it's easy to accessorize. Beckham has always been a trend setter and fashion diva, and her rejuvenation of the bob only proves that point.

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    © 2018 Rachel M Johnson

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