This summer, Brian Crumley received a peculiar—even unsettling—piece of mail at his Brooklyn home. Easily recognizable for his white-boy Afro that goes way beyond Welcome Back, Kotter, Crumley opened the envelope to discover a store-bought card with an image of his own face staring right back at him. Inside it read: “The hair loss that comes with age isn’t always a bad thing.”
Fate had dealt him a bizarre hand: Crumley, a photo-agency art director, had unwittingly become the star of his very own Hallmark Shoebox greeting card—a card that dissed him, at that. “I was shocked,” he says. “Somehow I had become this poster boy of why bald is beautiful.”
In January 2000, Crumley, an ex-model, posed for a photographer friend named Mr. Means and signed a release form. The Getty photo agency added the shot to its selection of images, and Hallmark optioned it. Now friends and acquaintances send him the card—or call him about it—almost every week. The card, titled “That ’70s Hair,” has sold more than 86,500 copies and is in its second printing.
“I am so happy to hear this is actually a person!” says Hallmark spokesperson Rachel Bolton. “I’m assuming that’s a wig.” It isn’t. “No?! Well, he has beautiful eyes.”
“It reminded me of the episode of The Brady Bunch when Jan wears that wig,” says the card’s writer, DeeAnn Stewart, adding, “Please tell him it’s nothing personal!” But Crumley, who has since grown a beard, is immune to Hallmark’s gentle criticism. He’s keeping his self-described “hippie mountain-man” look. “If I get a haircut,” he vows, “it will have nothing to do with that card.”