By the mid-1950s a change was underway in Mormonism that profoundly affected its political influence.
The hierarchy and church publications encouraged an unprecedented adoration of church president David O. McKay. His 'graceful', witty manner, his imposing physical appearance, his deep warmth, all made people see him as THE prophet, to be classed with Joseph Smith.'
Extensive television broadcasts of two general conferences annually after 1953 heightened McKay's personal and ceremonial impact on members of the church.
By the late 1960s LDS publications and speakers routinely identified McKay as
'the Prophet,' 'our Prophet,' and 'beloved Prophet.'
Those terms had previously applied to the martyred prophet, Joseph Smith, while the living LDS president had simply been 'the President.'
That changing devotional status of the LDS president can be dated precisely through the official Church News. Published weekly by the Deseret News since 1931, every headline reference of Church News to each LDS president referred to him as 'President' until 1955.
During those twenty-four years no headline referred to the living LDS president as 'prophet,' and that term was used exclusively to refer to Joseph Smith or to prophets of the Bible and Book of Mormon.
In February 1955 the Church News published the first headline reference to the living LDS president as the 'Prophet.'
(The above quote is on page 363 in Quinn's The Mormon Hierarchy Extensions of power book.)
How beards became barred among top Mormon leaders
(Even Jesus would be banned for having a beard)
Salt Lake Tribune - 4-1-2013
Culture » Temple workers can’t wear them — yet past prophets and many of today’s members sport them.
If they lived today, nearly half of the LDS Church’s presidents — from Brigham Young through George Albert Smith — would be forbidden from serving in the faith’s 141 temples worldwide.
That’s because being clean-shaven is generally a requirement for men to be Mormon temple workers — whether in a U.S. metropolis, an African city, a South American suburb or a European hamlet. Whiskers are fine for temple-going members, but even nicely trimmed beards and mustaches are no-nos for workers…starting in 1951, every LDS "prophet, seer and revelator" has been clean-shaven, as has nearly every apostle…effort to ‘look like the brethren’ [LDS general authorities]," he says, "who are assumed by many to have reached a higher spiritual plane."
…When LDS apostle Heber J. Grant arrived in England in 1903 to oversee the Utah-based faith’s evangelizing abroad, his predecessor had required missionaries to grow beards as symbols of their maturity and dignity.
…Then came the handsome — and clean-shaven — David O. McKay and the rebellious 1960s. Before long, beards took it on the chin.