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Death by Beard

If actor Joaquin Phoenix continues to ditch the razor, he could suffer the same fate as Hans Steininger.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

As of November 2008, a Canadian school teacher named Sarwan Singh holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest beard of any man alive. It hangs an astonishing seven feet, seven-and-three-quarter inches (2.36 meters) from his chin [source: ctv.ca]. But the all-time record for a beard goes to a Norwegian man who grew his beard out to a length of 17.5 feet (5.3 meters) [source: Spies]. His name was Hans Langseth and he died in 1927. At one point his beard was even on display in the Smithsonian Institution.

Neither one of these men have had much trouble with their beards. The same can't be said for an Austrian man from the mid-1500s. Hans Steininger's beard was a mere 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) long, but that was enough to lead to his untimely death [source: TIME]. Hans would keep his beard rolled up in a leather pouch, but failed to do so one day in 1567. A fire broke out in his town that day and he reportedly tripped on his beard while trying to evacuate. There are conflicting reports as to whether Steininger broke his neck or perished in the fire, but either way it was a very bizarre way to go.

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