Pattern Baldness in Russian Leadership

If you haven't taken the mental_floss quiz on Soviet leaders yet (and want to), go do that before reading this post, because it contains spoilers. Neatoramanaut Stubb left a comment that blew my mind.
I'm pretty sure most russians don't consider Malenkov part of the line of sovereign leaders, and that Khrushchev followed Stalin. It all has to do with the hair, you see. Ever since Catherine the Great took over for Peter the Great, the pattern has been:

Catherine I - Full-haired
Peter II - Bald (shaved for wig)
Anna I - Full-haired
Ivan IV - Bald (infant Emperor)
Elizabeth - Full-haired
Peter III - Bald (shaved for wig)
Catherine II - Full-haired
Paul I - Bald(ing)
Alexander I - Full-haired
Nicholas I - Bald
Alexander II - Full-haired
Alexander III - Bald
Nicholas II - Full-haired
Lenin - bald
Stalin - Full-haired
Khrushchev - Bald
Brezhnev - Full-haired
Andropov - Bald(ing)
Chernenko - Full-haired
Gorbachev - Bald
Yeltsin - Full-haired
Putin - Bald(ing)
Medvedev - Full-haired

This also dictates that the next President should be bald, giving Putin an excellent opportunity to regain (formal) power. Especially since his main opponent, Mikhail Prokhorov has a head full of hair...

A quick check revealed this pattern is correct, explained at NPR in a 2008 post. However, Stubb's list goes back much further into Tsarist Russia. Link

(Image credit: KoS)

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Thanks for noticing! I first heard of this in an interview with the Norwegian National Broadcasting correspondent in Russia (and before that, Soviet), regarding who would become the next president. He then gave the line starting with Lenin, which was the line I used when unraveling my mental floss thread. The spelling killed me, though, so I failed the test.
I was, however inspired to check out the bald/hair rule, and found this video (, which went back further, to Nicholas I!
The next step is of course to stretch it as far as possible, and with the help of the wig fashion and the poor Ivan IV alternating with the Tsarinas, I'm pretty happy with the result. I couldn't find a picture (of a painting) of Peter I with even as much as a receding hairline, so of course the mythos started with him.

@ted: Thanks for pointing that out.
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