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snopes
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Comment: I had heard that sometime in the late 70's or 80's after a short hiatus
from the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson had grown a moustache or beard during
his vacation. When the show resumed taping he decided not to shave and
appeared on-air with his new look. The viewing public didn't like it and
as a result, his ratings slipped significantly, essentially forcing him to
shave.

I have been told this is one of the reasons why news anchors and talk show
host rarely have facial hair; that it lessens credibility and trust in the
public eye. Is this true?

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Keeper of the Mad Bunnies
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Johnny Carson's Beard - On 2/4/85 Johnny Carson returned to NBC's THE TONIGHT SHOW sporting a gray beard he grew while on vacation. However, he only kept it for a week. On the Lincoln's birthday telecast (2/12/85), he commented he didn't think it advisable to appear in a theater with a beard.

TV Acres

James Powell

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Keeper of the Mad Bunnies
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I remember the beard, but do not recall any audience reactions.

Maybe it is getting confused with an earlier incident?

Original Airdate: 09-25-1978
Host: STEVE MARTIN

BURT REYNOLDS - They discuss: His Photoplay Award, shaves off half his moustache and surveys which the audience prefers.

The official Tonight Show website

James Powell

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Even if people didn't like it, I doubt it would have caused his ratings to drop significantly. Carson was extremely popular, and in the late 70's and early 80's there weren't many alternatives to network shows.

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Ulkomaalainen
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German late night show host Harald Schmidt, after a year's sabbatical, had grown a full beard, causing consternation and dislike, too. He then shaved. Whether this is a cause-effect-relationship I don't know though. But Schmidt can get away with anything, I think. His beard, as well as a new haircut a few years ago, made the headlines of all the major tabloids for days (the political newspapers only made it three articles or so).

That being said, if today you rarely see moustaches on TV I'd say the reason is, that they're not stylish anymore. You see less beards everywhere. An interesting statistic I just read shows the amount of moustached players in the German Fußballbundesliga (first soccer division) drop from approximately 50% to a mere 0 right now (last moustached player left a few years ago).

Ulko "shaved his full beard off in 1993, too" maalainen

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