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Morphing 44 presidential faces from Washington to Obama

January 12, 2009 | 12:14 pm

Much will be written about next week's historic inauguration of the country's first African American president. And we'll be doing our fair share here for sure.

But if a picture is worth 1,000 words -- and we tend to think it's more like 735 to 738 words --  then here's 44,000 words' worth of history in about 238 seconds.

Watch the faces of all of this nation's presidents morph into each other from No. 1 GW, who owned slaves, to No. 44, who doesn't. It provides a soothing, even inspiring sense of history.

Along the way you'll see fashions change. It wasn't until president No. 6 that we got presidential facial hair (all right, chops, but they count). That's a sign of great intelligence, as everyone with a moustache or beard knows.

We hadn't noticed Polk's piercing eyes before. Or how much Zachary Taylor looks like a general. (A Roman general perhaps.) Millard Fillmore looks just like, well, a Millard. Abe brings in the beard. Then with Grant we have six bearded/moustachioed presidents in succession, interrupted by the clean-shaven McKinley, then back to moustaches with TR and Taft (with the best handlebar) until Wilson and his goofy granny glasses.

And they've all had Gillette-scraped faces since 1914.

It was, as you may have noticed in early vintage photographs, very unfashionable to smile, even for politicians. Everybody was supposed to look grim and ever so 19th century.

So it's not until Jimmy Carter here in 1977 that we get that trademark cheesy grin. And from him on, they've all got smiles of one kind or another right up to the Change Maker himself, No. 44. Check it out. Let us know below what other patterns you notice.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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