Rawhide's Paul Brinegar had a beard that made headlines in the '60s

Paul Brinegar was a big deal in the '60s, and apparently so was his beard.

In the mid-1960s Paul Brinegar's name was thrown around a lot in Hollywood, but not in the way you would think. During his time as Wishbone on Rawhide, Brinegar's beard was a hot topic. It even made a few headlines in the newspapers. 

The Rawhide star was in more than 215 episodes and played the role of the sometimes bad-tempered cook on the ranch.

In a 1964 interview with The Ithaca Journal, Brinegar explained that before he grew the beard, many roles were hard to come by. He would typically have to settle for small roles such as a delivery boy or a bank clerk.

"I didn't realize what a gimmick a beard could be," he said. "I shaved it off a couple of years ago (during two months' vacation from the show) and dropped in on our production office. No one recognized me, including Richard Whorf, who had directed me several times."

For Brinegar, it was more than just a beard. The beard helped make Wishbone. With Brinegar in the role as Wishbone, it allowed for the character to have more depth.

"It proved something to me," he said. "I'm destined to wear a beard from now on. After six years, I've passed the point of no return."

At the time of this interview, he and his wife had been married for two years. He and makeup artist Shirley Talbot met on the set of Rawhide. A beared Brinegar is all she knew.

"She's never seen me without a beard but says she prefers it," he said. 

He said he figures fans of Wishbone feel the same way. So, the beard stayed.

The Everett Collection

In a 1964 interview with Portland Press Herald, Brinegar said he was unable to get a good part until he began to let his beard grow. 

"And at the same time the hair on my head started to fall out," he added. 

Beard, or no beard. Brinegar brought Wishbone to life on Rawhide. As for his success, Brinegar was as much of a showstopper as his beard was.

"I get letters every once in awhile from old trail cooks who seem to know just what kind of life I lead trying to feed those cowboys," he said. "If they really knew how bad a cook I was they'd be writing sympathy letters to the cowboys!"

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16 Comments

MichaelPowers 24 days ago
Paul would wear his beard when he co-starred on the TV western series Lancer where he played Jelly Hoskins. He would also have his beard in his cameo on The Gambler: Luck of the Draw TV-movie starring Kenny Rogers.
tootsieg 25 days ago
Enjoyed reading about Paul Brinegar. The letters he got from former trail cooks must of been so interesting. A blast from the past.
Runeshaper 26 days ago
The power of the beard 🧔‍♂️!
JHP 26 days ago
I remember him from

High Plains Drifter

can anyone guess what role he did? I know it:)

Damm cool flick:)
CaptainDunsel 26 days ago
"The Rawhide star was in more than 215 episodes and played the role of the sometimes bad-tempered cook on the ranch."
Hmmm... And what "ranch" would that be?
Exactly. I continually find references and statements that are totally incorrect in articles. The people writing these articles are lazy in their research, incompetent to be writing about the subject or a combination of both.
They had to have a ranch to serve as home base. My guess is that it was in Texas.
jtarnow CaptainDunsel 24 days ago
I have a feeling he meant "Range" not ranch.
MrsPhilHarris 27 days ago
His character Wishbone is kind of funny.
LoveMETV22 27 days ago
Something hairy about that story. I wonder though if Paul Brinegar and Frank McGrath ever hung out together.😃
Could be. They both worked on "Santiago" in 1956, though McGrath was a stuntman. (Got dragged by a horse, it seems.)
JHP LoveMETV22 26 days ago
they couldn't have pimped Shick or Gillette tho:)
Mike 27 days ago
For those of you who'd like to see a beardless Paul Brinegar:
Check out the next time Svengoolie runs "How to Make A Monster".
Brinegar plays the makeup guy's jittery assistant Rivero - clean-shaven all the way.
LoveMETV22 Mike 27 days ago
Or just go to the IMDb website. they have plenty of beardless Paul Brinegar pics from
"How to Make a Monster."
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