Mental Floss

King of the Comb-Over

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BEN KIRCHNER
BEN KIRCHNER / BEN KIRCHNER
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After decades of loyal scalp warming, Frank Smith’s hair handed in its resignation in the 1970s. The Orlando, Fla., resident was distraught. He couldn’t stomach the idea of donning a toupee, and a brief shaved-head phase drew merciless taunts from his pals. So one night, over a glass of wine with his son Donald, Smith began batting around some new ideas.

Comb-overs were nothing new, but Smith and son landed on an extreme variant that required growing out a ring of hair around the entire head and sweeping it over the dome in three sections. Frank Smith was so pleased with the idea that he successfully applied for a U.S. patent for “Method of Concealing Partial Baldness.” The Smiths hoped to monetize the trick by marketing a spray that held the hairy illusion in place. Sadly, the business was a flop, but they didn’t walk away empty-handed. In 2004, the duo received an Ig Nobel Prize for their contribution to the world’s bare pates.

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