Evolution of the bang, from Bettie to Zooey

Story highlights

  • Hollywood starlets have always flirted with bangs
  • Model Peggy Moffitt's bangs made Vidal Sassoon a household name
  • Christina Applegate rocked "mall hair" bangs in the late '80s

Bangs may be a modern red carpet staple, but they actually have a long history (hair-story?) in Hollywood. Whether wispy or thick, feathered or blunt-cut, bangs are the go-to hair choice for celebs who need a new coif. Here, we look back at the evolution of the A-list fringe.

Louise Brooks, 1925

There's nothing quiet about this silent movie starlet's looks, right down to her "Dutch Boy" bob cut. Her thick thatch of bangs, cut straight across the forehead, became a popular look with flappers seeking to defy society's vision of beauty.

Veronica Lake, 1942

Lake's side-parted style, which tumbled like a curtain over her right eye, became known as the "peek-a-boo bang," and was even parodied by Lake herself in the movie Star Spangled Rhythm. Later, Kim Basinger's L.A. Confidential style was modeled on the look.

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Bettie Page, 1956

    The "Queen of Pinups" boasted enviable curves (36-23-35, to be exact), but it's her cropped bangs that left a lasting beauty impression.

    Peggy Moffitt, 1965

    Vidal Sassoon clipped this mod model's thick black hair—fringe and all—creating one of the most famous haircuts of the '60s and making Sassoon a household name.

    Jean Shrimpton, 1965

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    The English model wore her fringe finely trimmed, and often tucked the wisps behind her ears (a trick later used by Alexa Chung).

    Jane Fonda, 1970

    Coolest mug shot ever? Jane Fonda sported bangs and a defiant glare in 1970, because, well, it's important to leave Barbarella alone.

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    Farrah Fawcett, 1976

    Stylist Allen Edwards created this fluffy fringe for Farrah Fawcett and millions of college coeds followed suit (or rather, snip).

    Loni Anderson, 1980

    She's not a natural blonde, but the WKRP in Cincinnati star's flaxen coif helped steer her career, and her halo of big bangs helped define a decade where excess was everything.

    Sarah Jessica Parker, 1985

    Though the most popular bang style of the '80s required a gallon of Aquanet and just as much heat, some girls just wanna have fun with less product, like this wispy fringe sported by a pre-Bradshaw SJP.

    Christina Applegate, 1987

    As ditzy Kelly Bundy on Married...With Children, Applegate wore her bangs sky-high, with shellacked side wings to boot. Of her "mall hair" style, she noted, "You know, the bangs that stick straight up off the top of your head. That was ridiculous." Maybe...but everyone was doing it.

    Shannen Doherty, 1990-93

    Doherty claimed she was fired from 90210 for doing a DIY hack job on her trademark "Brenda Walsh" bangs. "I cried over a bad haircut because I got fired over it," she told The Talk. (Fortunately, the TV gods later spared Felicity.)

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    Natalie Portman, 1994

    An 11-year-old Portman captured hearts as Mathilda, the gun-toting girl in The Professional whose little-girl bangs belied a vengeful spirit.

    Drew Barrymore, 1998

    Barrymore bucked the grunge trend with her daisy hair crown and '40s-inspired bangs, creating a trend seen at 9th grade semi-formals all over the country.

    Audrey Tautou, 2001

    In Amélie, Tautou's wide-eyed wonderment was even more palpable thanks to her blunt bangs (documented in this adorable video.)

    Gwen Stefani, 2003

    She's sported pink and blue hair, but it's Stefani's signature platinum locks and bumped bangs that made the Tragic Kingdom singer a pop icon.

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    Shannyn Sossamon, 2005

    The DJ/model/actress pulled off her itty-bitty asymmetrical bangs for years, becoming the poster child for glam hipsters everywhere.

    Naomi Campbell, 2005

    Scandals may come and go, but one thing is constant: The supermodel's blunt-cut bangs keep her looking ageless.

    Nicole Richie, 2005

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    An It Girl for the new millennium, Richie gave the red carpets a fresh dose of glamour with this side-swept 'do.

    Madonna, 2006

    This disco-worthy feathered fringe was the perfect complement to Madge's club-thumping Confessions on a Dance Floor, which featured ABBA samples. Hairstylist Andy LeCompte played a role in the mane reinvention, creating the Dancerteria-worthy fringe for Madonna's video, "Hung Up."

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    Katie Holmes, 2007

    A severely short chop reflected Holmes' shift from Joey Potter to Katie Cruise. Her thick China-doll bangs set the Internet reeling... of course, now Suri's outfits have stolen the show.

    Reese Witherspoon, 2007

    The best revenge is a good set of bangs? That was the case for Witherspoon, who debuted her wispy fringe after divorcing Ryan Phillippe. The hairstylist behind the look, Mark Townsend, noted, "I got more questions and emails about this haircut than anything I've ever done."

    Lady Gaga, 2008

    Before the meat dress, Gaga's sharp white bangs became her beauty calling card. And then there was the hair bow...

    Zooey Deschanel, 2011

    Watching New Girl with serious bangs envy? You're not alone. Deschanel's even admitted she's hooked on the look, saying, "I don't feel like I'm myself without them."

    Michelle Obama, 2013

    Though the FLOTUS has already denounced her fringe, attributing it to her "mid-life crisis," there's no denying that the simple chop put the Internet in overdrive. Not only did Michelle Obama's bangs get their own Twitter handle (@MichellesBangs) within weeks of debuting at the POTUS' second inauguration, but the President himself said their debut was "the most significant event of this weekend."

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    Tyra Banks, 2013

    Banks often references her large forehead as a flaw to be celebrated, even going so far as to develop the upcoming ABC comedy series Fivehead about her awkward adolescence. But the supermodel mogul recently covered her "imperfection" with perfect flaxen bangs. At least she can still smize, right?

    Taylor Swift, 2013

    The music sensation recently posted to Instagram, "While in the studio, I came to the realization that my bangs are long enough to use as a sleep mask on long flights. Then I remembered I don't ever use sleep masks on flights. So really, I just need a haircut."

    Who's hairstyle do you like best? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter @CNNLiving or on CNN Living's Facebook page!

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