From the first woman in a bathing suit to Marilyn Monroe before she rose to the pinnacle of fame, we reveal some of the most controversial, euphoric, intriguing, and shocking photos to be taken in the 20th century.
Hello Norma Jean, 1944
The former-brunette Norma Jean Mortenson, had a difficult childhood, which saw her move from foster home to foster home in her formative younger years. By age 16, she was married and hidden from the world, working in a U.S. military factory. Little did she know that fame was waiting for her just around the corner, and in 1944, her life changed forever.
At just 18 years old, young Norma Jean was introduced to a photographer from the U.S. Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit at work. This meeting led to a successful pin-up modeling career and some film contracts, and eventually, she signed with Fox in 1951. She became one of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Her appeal was unrivaled, even against the exotic European beauties of the time.
Float Like A Butterfly... Sting Like Ali!
Talk about the right place at the right time; this image has to be one of sporting history’s finest moments! Neil Leifer, photographer for "Sports Illustrated" at the time, was THE man to capture the moment Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston. This image has gone to be plastered over walls, caps, t-shirts, and any other printable memorabilia. As far as sporting images go, this one really does take the championship belt.
It was a story that would make David and Goliath seem like a children’s fable when the 23-year-old Muhammad Ali took on the 34-year-old “Big Bear." In 1964, Ali and Liston had a rematch, and despite a controversial ending, it went for a record 2:12 into the first round. On the iconic shot above, photographer Leifer is recorded to have said, “I was obviously in the right seat…but what matters is I didn’t miss.”
The Boys of The Hollywood Canteen
The Hollywood Canteen, which operated in Hollywood during World War II, acted as a watering hole for servicemen on their way to war. Free food, drink, dancing, and entertainment were on offer for the soldiers. Bette Davis was one of the driving forces behind the operation of the “canteen,” which drew thousands of servicemen. It provided an outlet and motivation for the boys before they went out to serve their country.
While the majority of the patrons were American, it was an inclusive institution, open to both servicemen and women of all the Allied countries. And if this photo didn’t make it clear, many of the women working there were celebrity volunteers, which certainly helped to boost morale. Celebrities like Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Rita Hayworth all visited the club at one point.
Frequently topping the lists of Hollywood’s most celebrated women is none other than the seductively beautiful Angelina Jolie. And with parents like hers, we’re thankful she took after her mother! The daughter of Hollywood power couple Jon Voight and the gorgeous Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie has a singular beauty. With huge blue eyes, and large, bountiful lips, all atop a slim-hipped but full-busted body, Jolie is a true knockout. Here we see her as just a baby with her famous parents.
But being beautiful doesn’t guarantee an easy life, especially when it’s lived among the flashing lights of Hollywood. Known for her tempestuous relationship with heartthrob Brad Pitt, their love was nothing compared to the relationship with her father, Jon Voight. Confused? Same. But it seems that despite the bad blood, in 2018, apparently, the pair reconciled. How? Through the lens of art. Jolie told The Hollywood Reporter, “we don’t really talk politics well…we talk art very well.”
The Star Wars Cast
We love this image because it takes us back to where it all began. Since the original trilogy was introduced to audiences in 1977, Star Wars has garnered a cult following. Revived over thirty years later by Disney, Star Wars fans were created in the next generation, continuing the franchise’s legacy. Young and fresh-faced, you'll see a lanky Harrison Ford and a bright-eyed Carrie Fisher, as well as Mark Hamill and Chewie!
The 2015 reboot saw our favorite characters return, albeit a little older. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi" re-introduced Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia. The brilliant thing about reviving a cult classic in the era of social media is the abundant memes. There’s also somewhat of an obsession with Anakin Skywalker’s brutal transformation into Darth Vader, as well as of the face-off between Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous.
The Listening Booth, 1955
Record label His Master’s Voice (HMV) had a brilliant idea one day. They wanted people to be able to sample their goods without taking them home – a trial run of sorts. Thus was born the vinyl listening booth. Throughout the U.K. and Canada in the 1950s, HMV record stores saw hundreds of customers flocking to try out the listening booths, to listen to the latest songs in these sound-isolating booths.
In the 50s, having the luxury of being able to goof around inside one of these record store booths was one of those simple luxuries. No headphones are needed; listeners could freely enjoy their favorite tunes of the moment in their own little sanctuary. Bring back the listening booth, we say!
Babe Ruth, 1927
George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. is remembered as one of the legends of the game. With a 22-season career, the New York Yankees’ star outfielder began his long career as a wondrous left-handed pitcher. But funnily enough, he actually made his debut with the Boston Red Sox. The Baltimore-born Ruth was nicknamed “The Bambino” or the “Sultan of Swat” and was actually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the founding members.
With 714 career home runs, 2,062 bases on balls, and a slugging percentage of .690, there are some stats that even the modern-day greats can’t contest with. Regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen in all of American history, Ruth is also considered to be the best player of all time. He remained a part of American culture and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Hippos Can Surf Too!
While, at first sight, you might find this image amazing or even hilarious, there was an even deeper message in taking and distributing this photo. Michael Nichols captured this alongside National Geographic Society explorer Michael Fay while they trekked an exhausting 2,000 miles from the Congo to Gabon. Seeing these two hippopotamuses swimming in the Atlantic Ocean was surely quite bewildering, and Nichols had a message to deliver.
With their rivers and lakes destroyed, the hippos have been pushed out to the oceans, forced to adapt and live in an area that they are not biologically constituted for. This image is truly one-in-a-million but actually led to real change. Former President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, upon seeing this image, was inspired to create a national park system. This move sees 11 percent of Gabon being protected, ensuring that the wild animals are able to continue living untouched and peacefully.
Annette Kellerman and Her Fitted One-piece Bathing Suit, 1907
*Gasp* A woman exposing her body!? It’s 1907, and boy was there a change a-coming. Australian professional swimmer, actress, and writer (and clearly very accomplished woman) Annette Kellerman are pictured here as a fearless female leader. One of the first to bravely wear the one-piece swimsuit, she became something of a fashion designer too, with demand increasingly high for her swimsuits!
Labeled the “Annette Kellermans,” these bathing-suit-wearing divas were a topic of controversy, which took over the radio waves across the world. In 1907, on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, the Australian was arrested for “indecency.” But they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity because this occurred at the height of her popularity, which sent sales flying! If those officers saw the swimsuits kids are wearing these days, they’d go into cardiac arrest.
The iPhone and its Maker, 2007
This image, taken in 2007, was accompanied by a famous line, “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” CEO and Apple founder, Steve Jobs, made history on that platform and did indeed transform the way we use and understand phones. Over 10 years down the line, Apple is still reinventing the phone.
Phones have evolved from simply being used for talking and texting to practically becoming minicomputers, with a price tag to match. With a sleek design and a portal to the rest of the world at your fingertips, this photo was just the beginning of phone technology. Who knows what Apple will come up with within another 10 years.
Hollywood Royalty Meets Real Royalty, 1956
Below, the Queen of Hollywood at the time, Marilyn Monroe, met Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. To think that the pair of influential women were the same age is quite astonishing. But that also makes Queen Elizabeth II Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, seeing many decades pass and being present for countless historical landmarks.
You might think the Royals are locked away in their age-old fortresses, guarded by the highest security and constantly moping about, but that was certainly not the case. The pair actually met one another at a film premiere, to which Monroe was accompanying her husband at the time. The women in this photo were both just 30 years old. A meeting of two legends in their own right. Quite remarkable.
The Beginning of an Era, 1999
Google is a household name these days. It’s even become a verb. But something this huge had to start somewhere, and here’s the photographic evidence. In 1999, this photo was taken of a few brainy developers and software geeks, the newly founded Google team. These first employees were at the foundation of a company that today employs over 50,000 people.
Of these original founding members and employees, seven of them still actually work for the web giant. Some who left the company in its formative years went on to develop their own skills and know-how but still went on to be brilliant entrepreneurs. For example, Marissa Mayer, a software engineer from Google, went on to become the CEO of Yahoo! But then you look at the folks that stayed on, like Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, who is now worth over $50 billion.
Two Kings Kicking It
Not many people know that these two musical legends even crossed paths at all. Here we see the silver-fingered Jimi Hendrix with the reggae master Bob Marley in Greenwich Village, New York City. For these two stars, it would’ve been like two kids just hanging out. In today’s world, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. To see two cultural icons, who would, in their own way, change music forever, is simply incredible. We can only imagine the conversations!
At the time, the then 23-year-old Bob Marley had just signed on as a solo artist in 1968. He was traveling to the States with his wife when he chanced upon Jimi Hendrix. It seems that Marley heard Hendrix jamming with a few of the notables on the Blues scene. During this musically historic meeting, the two just took in the good vibes and danced to good music. We didn’t expect anything less!
Elizabeth Taylor’s Kitty, 1953
With her violet-hued eyes, delicate facial features, and voluptuous body, Elizabeth Taylor is one of the screen sirens of Hollywood. With her start as a child actress in the 1940s, it seemed she would follow the usual trajectory and end up married with children. But not for Taylor. As an adult, she blossomed, as did her beauty and career. In 1999, Taylor was named the 7th greatest screen legend by the American Film Institute and frequently tops lists regarding the Golden Era of Hollywood.
Whilst she often played the seductive yet quick-witted woman in her roles, she also had a soft spot. For cats. In this image, captured in 1953, you see her coyly posing with an adorable kitten poking its head and mittens out of her pocket! At the time, she was filming "The Girl Who Had Everything." But let’s be real here; that’s one pretty lucky kitty!
The Beatles, 1964
Harry Benson, the iconic photograph below, one of those that people just can’t get enough of. The subject of the image? Only the hottest pop-rock band in the world at the time: The Beatles! Staying in the obscenely expensive George V Hotel in Paris in 1964, the Beatles were only just getting a taste of the fame to ensue. The night this photograph was taken was the same night the “Fab Four” found out that their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” went No.1 in the United States.
But perhaps the best part about this photograph’s story is that Glasgow-born Benson wasn’t interested in the band at all and wanted to cover a story in Africa instead. But after an encounter with the band and their music, Benson was mesmerized, so he stuck it out with them, taking countless photographs. This is just one of many, but it perfectly captures the excitement and happiness of the moment.
Shirley Temple, 1949
One of history’s most iconic and endearing child actresses, Shirley Temple's spirited acting and singing routines provided a welcome escape from the darkness of the Great Depression. At 21, Temple posed for a number of publicity photographs, such as this wonderful yet bizarre photo snapped in 1949. Below we see Shirley in a Thanksgiving-themed photo, with none other than the crowning dish of the feast: a turkey.
This probably wouldn’t fly as good marketing with vegetarian and vegan activists today, but back in the day, this was perfectly comical! With a career beginning at age three, she, unlike many other child actors, managed to grow her career in another direction. Temple went into diplomacy and served as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana under the Ford administration, as well as later on to Czechoslovakia under George H.W. Bush.
A Gentleman, 1890
The image of this man captured in 1890 shows that your man has no excuse to not look dapper as hell! Back then, there weren’t any electronic shavers or crisp Italian shirts to buy from department stores. These days, men have it easy. But there may be something else that’s gotten your attention. If you didn’t think doppelgangers were a real thing, think again. Doesn’t this man look exactly like celebrated actor and comedian Eddie Murphy?!
With his glorious mustache and slight smirk, this resemblance has sent us reeling! They do look uncannily similar, which is quite something, given this photo was taken 71 years prior to Eddie Murphy’s birth. It’s quite likely that a hundred or so years ago, there’s a photograph taken of someone who looks exactly like you!
The King’s Autograph
When someone refers to “The King,” they’re undoubtedly talking about the King of Rock and Roll: Elvis Presley. With a reach like no other artist before or after him, he is remembered as a legend in his own right. Before he had truly reached stardom, here he is pictured signing autographs for his fans.
Part of what was a golden age for music, Elvis was a pioneer in the Rockabilly style - a genre that fused country with rhythm and blues. His goal was to imbue popular music with African American music; and once America heard his new take, they were hooked. Selling a staggering amount of records which, in a time before instant downloads, was a massive feat, Elvis will remain one of the highest-selling artists of all time.
The Kissing Sailor, 1945
You’ve probably already seen this image somewhere, at some point in your life – it’s just that famous. This photo was taken just after the end of World War II, in the middle of Times Square, New York City. A passionate, gleeful kiss stolen by a sailor from war nurse Greta Zimmer Friedman truly captured the zeitgeist of the time and the unbridled joy everyone felt on the day the war finally ended!
While rumors swirled that the image was staged, it was, in fact, completely spontaneous. Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt with a Leica Illa camera, a number of men came forward claiming to be the sailor, but it still remains unclear. Anyway, it’s just one of those unforgettable images.
Mother of… Bambi? Miss Audrey Hepburn Shopping with Her Pet Deer, 1958
Style icon Audrey Hepburn was a woman of many talents, but she also had a number of eccentricities. Among her small menagerie of pets, Audrey Hepburn kept a deer. During the filming of "Green Mansion" in 1959, Audrey chanced upon this beautiful little deer. Due to her role in the film alongside Bambi, the animal trainer on set thought it would be a good idea to take her little friend home so she could teach it to follow her!
The deer, which she affectionately called Pippin, or ‘Ip’ for short, grew so attached to Hepburn that it began to mistake her for its mother. Her naturally calm nature and soft speaking voice made the baby deer feel quite at home, despite the fact Audrey didn’t actually have any caramel-colored fur! The baby deer would cuddle Hepburn and go with her on trips to the grocery store – as pictured in the shot above, taken in Beverly Hills.
Halsman, Dalí, Water and Cats
Before Philippe Halsman and surrealist Salvador Dalí decided that tossing three cats into the air for the renowned Dalí Atomicus was a grand idea, the Spaniard somewhat eccentrically suggested they blow up a duck with dynamite. We’re kind of glad it didn't happen, and they stuck with the cats. After 26 attempts, Halsman decided he had finally begun to see the “real essence” of Dalí.
To execute the photograph, Halsman’s wife and daughter stood out of the frame and threw the cats and water into the air while Dalí jumped. This idea of “jumpology” was employed by Halsman to capture the “true spirit” of his subjects: “when you ask a person to jump, his attention to detail is mostly directed toward the act of jumping, and the mask falls so that the real person appears.”
Going Coco-nuts at the Cocoanut Grove
It was clear that the Ambassador Hotel’s business was booming, but they were simply running out of space to hold all their patrons! With a mixture of Hollywood’s esteemed movie crowd, as well as the folks of the country club, management made the executive decision to convert the hotel’s ballroom into the 1,000-seat Cocoanut Grove. A premier nightclub, this Los Angeles nightspot did a roaring trade back in the day. It even served as the location for the 1939 Academy Awards. Swish!
A theatre of grand proportions, the who’s who of Hollywood glided down the grand balustrade into an adult wonderland that would shake the foundations of Las Vegas’ night strip! Mechanical monkeys, palm trees, and ceilings lit up like the night sky. Sometimes the mechanical monkeys were real monkeys, occasionally let loose on the floor of the nightclub by the proprietors, the Barrymore brothers. We don’t doubt that plans for a quick drink would unravel devastatingly fast!
‘I Have A Dream’, 1963
Easily one of the twentieth century’s most influential and revered speakers, here we see the iconic Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his equally iconic ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. Delivered in 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the eloquent young orator told the world of his dream, inspiring and empowering generations to come.
This speech touched hearts across the country, both black and white. His struggle against segregation and activism for peace were rewarded; in 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. Whilst he was barely 40 years old when he was tragically assassinated, he is still remembered today as an influential figure that changed the course of history.
Now this image sits outside our twentieth-century photographs, but it still makes the list for its powerful cultural statement. Shia LaBeouf used his celebrity status to deliver more powerful messages. After acting for a few years and growing wiser, he became bolder and more peculiar with his public appearances. At a movie premiere in 2014, LaBeouf rocked up wearing a paper bag over his head.
On the bag was a very clear message: “I am not famous anymore,” all written in upper case letters. Not sure if he’s loopy or not, but one thing’s clear: Hollywood clearly got to him. In a way, it shows that actors and actresses, despite awards and appearing in films, have an expiry date, a time when they’re “not hot” or “not celebrated.” He might not be so famous anymore, but hey, at least he’s received a few hefty paychecks to enjoy his “infamous-ness” comfortably.
Cobain and Love with Their Mini-Me
With a power-couple quality likened to that of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, albeit a touch more grunge, next up we have Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, with their little love Frances Bean Cobain. They were the King and Queen of the 90s, with their faces plastered on every wall, up until Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. Joining the famous '27 Club', Kurt Cobain sadly passed away after committing suicide with a gunshot.
A tumultuous relationship that was heavily covered by the media saw a more reclusive Cobain check into drug rehabilitation facilities more than a few times, often being reported by his wife as suicidal. Despite his untimely death, the 27-year old’s music is still played today. His daughter Frances continues down the creative path, as a visual artist and model, with looks that bear a striking resemblance to her famous parents. Now, that’s a legacy.
Arguably the most iconic rock band in history, The Beatles formed in Liverpool in 1960. After four years of jammin’ and rock and rollin’, the band of four took the international stages by storm. The “Fab Four” were trailblazers, helping pop music evolve and grow, incorporating unconventional recording techniques and some experimental music styles. This photo of them in their youth really takes us back to the swinging 60s.
Their fresh-faced boyishness and catchy melodies shot them to international fame, taking their Please Please Me tour throughout Europe. Selling a mind-blowing 800 million albums worldwide, it’s no wonder they were included in Time magazine’s list of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people. But looking back here, these young kids would’ve just been there for the ride, with no real idea of what was to come.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in NYC, 1968
For the Eddie Murphy fans out there, this was certainly Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Coming to America moment, as the “Austrian Oak” touched down on U.S. soil for the very first time, in 1968. The professional bodybuilder-turned action movie star was an overnight sensation in the U.S. Below, he appears rather goofy with a camera in his hand, taking in the sights of New York City like any other awestruck tourist.
Schwarzenegger immigrated to the United States after becoming the youngest bodybuilder to ever win the Mr. Universe title. But it seems that after winning the competition, Arnold had his sights set on the flashing lights of Hollywood. It didn’t take long for him to find success since he was truly one-of-a-kind. Little did he know that one day he would be known as the “Governator” of California.
Veronica Lake and Her Famous Golden Bangs
One of Hollywood’s most famous blonde bombshells (and we ain’t talking about Marilyn Monroe) is the gorgeous Veronica Lake. However, her real name was Constance Frances Marie Ockelman. Quite a mouthful, right? Throughout the 1940s, Lake experienced great success owing to her great talent, garnering both popular and critical acclaim for her various film roles.
Her famous “Golden Bangs” or ‘peek-a-boo’ hairstyle became something of a trademark. However, all that glitters is not gold, and unfortunately, Lake had a drinking problem which led to something a lot direr. In some ways, the iconic actress is often forgotten behind the scandal and great beauty of Monroe, but we know that Lake was a driving force behind the leading ladies of Hollywood, and no discussion of the Golden Age is complete without mentioning Lake!
A War Vet to the Rescue
U.S. Marine Frank Praytor probably had no idea of the reception this photograph would have back home while he was serving as a combat correspondent in Korea. Shown here nursing a kitten, he took it upon himself to take a couple of newborn kittens under his care. In a time of war and chaos, it would’ve given him that morale boost to get him through.
Photographers were always on the lookout for images that would be favorable back home, to show the kind side of a war that was undoubtedly horrific. This image appeared in over 1,700 newspapers and definitely pulled on the heartstrings of the public; not to mention the ladies! Women from all over the United States actually sent love letters, asking to marry him!
Is it Còke or Coca Cola? 1950
After the Allied victory in World War II, Coca-Cola decided to bring its carbonated drink to France. The fizzy drink had been available well before the 1950s, and while the rest of the world was enjoying it for decades, France was left in the dark. People received it with skepticism at first, but it soon became a bubbly celebration. The men in the photo here are clearly eyeing the unknown substance with suspicion.
Coca-Cola introduced itself to France with the slogan “Drink Fresh,” touring the streets, handing out free samples in what Coke now calls “La Rèvolution du Froid” or “The cold revolution.” In 1945, a clever ad campaign played on the sentimentality of the French, with salesmen wearing plain boiler suits, designed to remind Parisians of the Americans liberating Europeans at the end of the war.
The Kennedy Wedding, 1953
At just 24 years old, Jacqueline Bouvier wedded future President of the U.S., John F. Kennedy. Bouvier was 12 years his junior! Around 2,000 fans stood outside the church, while 800 attended the beautiful reception at Hammersmith Farm, a 300-acre farm owned by the family of Jackie’s stepfather. No doubt it was a fancy, elegant affair, and why not? Bouvier was a socialite in her own right, and Kennedy had just been elected to represent Massachusetts.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was a woman of grace and great beauty, and she had a wedding to match. Her stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss, gave her away in an ivory silk dress with a stunning portrait neckline and bouffant skirt. The happy couple left shortly after the wedding reception for their honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico. We love the mirth and glee in the couple’s faces. Sadly, however, this was to last only 10 years before tragedy struck Jacqueline and the United States of America.
Mass consumerism and resultant excess are trends that don’t seem to know how to slow down in our modern world. Andreas Gursky’s century-turning photo encapsulates these feelings and ideas perfectly. Aptly named '99 Cents', this image of 1001 consumer products ironically became the most expensive contemporary photograph sold at one point in time.
The photograph is a collage of sorts, consisting of multiple images taken in a discount “99 Cents only” store in Los Angeles, and meshed together using graphic design software. If you really concentrate on the photo, it turns into an illusion of sorts. The hypnotic endless rows of merchandise with consumers poking their heads among the shelves become a colorful mixture of reality and fiction—the image sold for a record-breaking $2.3 million at auction.
Case Study House No. 22, Los Angeles
Los Angeles looks pretty alright from up there, doesn’t it? One of the most brilliant photographs to be captured in the twentieth century, Case Study House No.22, is perhaps Julius Shulman’s crowning work. In May 1960, Shulman set up his camera in the Hollywood Hills, to photograph architect Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House. Enclosed by glass, the home has a superb view of Los Angeles.
This image captured a graceful simplicity, softening what many would call harsh angles and structures. To highlight this elegance and minimalism, Shulman placed two glamorous women inside the house, floating atop their glass pedestal, overlooking their cosmopolitan kingdom. It perfectly sold the American Dream and the promise of stardust by living in the Hollywood Hills.
All the Way With LBJ!
Hours after one of the world’s most powerful nations was struck by tragedy, the U.S. acted rapidly, installing Lyndon Baines Johnson as the 36th President of the United States. Following the assassination of the beloved John F. Kennedy, Johnson assumed the presidency in 1963. This image captures the moment when Johnson insisted that the former president's wife accompany him to the nation’s capital mere hours after she lost her husband.
According to Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, she described the scene as such: Jackie Kennedy remained composed, “immaculate…and exquisitely dressed.” Known for her ethereal grace and elegance, the former First Lady maintained decorum even in an extremely distressing and heartbreaking time. Jackie Kennedy was keeping calm in a time of crisis because she knew the eyes of the American people were fixed on her to gauge their own responses.
The End of World War II
It was Truman who announced the good news to the United States of America. As the war-time President, it was only right that he told his country of Japan’s surrender. The whole world rejoiced. Hollywood was certainly known for its parties, so it only fitted that a big bash was held to celebrate this triumphant victory. The spectacle inside the many clubs, as well as the debauchery, would have been quite something.
People rejoiced in the streets, crowds waved banners and sang loudly. Confetti was strewn in the air, on the footpaths – there was certainly no raining on their parade during this joyous historical moment. We’re talking the 1940s, or the “Roaring Forties” when Hollywood was enjoying its golden moment. There’s just something about images of gleeful moments; it makes you immediately feel a part of their joy and happiness.
The First Walmart, 1962
Mr. Sam Walton was just your run-of-the-mill salesman with nothing else but thoughts of the American Dream in his head. In 1962 he took the plunge and opened Walton’s Five-and-Dime. Who would’ve thought this would turn into the mega-franchise it is today? Mr. Walton knew that slow and steady wins the race, taking his time to build his brand and empire. From humble beginnings, as shown in this picture, the unremarkable store grew into a major American supermarket.
The first store opened on July 2nd, 1962, at 719 West Walnut Street in Rogers, Arkansas. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. grew rapidly from this discreet store, with business booming within two decades. It became one of the world’s largest corporations by way of revenues, and at one stage, Sam Walton was the richest man in America. Today, Wal-Mart brings in a revenue of $500 billion. Now, doesn’t that make this photo even more extraordinary?!
W-W-W-W-Wipe Out! 1938
Tom Blake was a trailblazer in the surfing world, introducing the sport to California in 1931. Creating the very first hollow surfboard, Blake was going to go down in history. It was Blake who completely changed something the Hawaiians held closely to a national sport, which became incredibly popular around the globe. Here we see a group of surfers learning the ins and outs of the sport.
It’s one of the few sports that created its own culture and lifestyle. While it originated in Polynesia and onto the high-class Hawaiians, it was soon adopted by Americans, Australians, and many others. Blake didn’t stop at the surfboard, though; he also invented rescue paddleboards using the same design principles, as well as the first “torpedo” rescue buoy.
The First Cell Phone Picture Taken, 1997
We’re going to take you back to 1997, to a time when camera phones didn’t exist and the Internet was still being tweaked. Well, that’s until Philippe Kahn came along. A tinkerer by trade as a software entrepreneur, Kahn was working on tech that could share images instantly. Despite a crude setup, Kahn amazingly captured his daughter Sophie’s first moments and transmitted them instantly to over 2,000 people.
Despite birthing something life-changing of his own, nothing can change the fact that he was overjoyed at the birth of his own daughter. Kahn had written some code on his laptop, then attached a digital camera to his flip camera, creating the very first mobile phone camera. After some slight refinements, he made a deal with Sharp, which used his technology to release the first integrated camera phone in Japan.
A scarce photo in history, this photo was taken in 1945 when the Jewish prisoners from the internment camp were finally freed from the clutches of the Nazis. The allied forces got to them on time.
The top part of the image shows, “the photograph inserted below was taken by Major Benjamin at the moment the first of the refugees at the train became aware of their liberation and started to move up the hill toward our troops.” Definitely a beautiful sight!
This image says a lot about the late Jimi Hendrix. It’s powerful because it was taken before his untimely demise at the age of 27 in 1970. We all know that he was an extremely talented guitarist, and has influenced many people during his reign.
He also sang and performed his own music, which makes him one of the greatest in music history. In fact, he was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contributions to music during his career. Awesome indeed!
Victory over Japan
Ah, who could forget this memorable moment in history? We have all seen this photo somewhere on the internet, and it has been proven to be one of the most viewed kissing scenes around the world. This was the V-J Day or otherwise known as the “Victory over Japan Day,” which was marked by the beginning of the end of World War II.
When the announcement was made that the US won, this sailor grabbed a total woman stranger and kissed her in the middle of Times Square in New York City on August 14th, 1945. Now, you might be wondering who took the photo? Well, his name is Alfred Eisenstaedt who just happened to capture this picture at the right place and at the right time.
Before the Iceberg
Here we see another photo of the R.M.S Titanic as it sailed its way from South Hampton to New York City. Before the dreadful sinking of this glorious ship, it was scheduled to set sail on April 10th, 1912 and on April 14th, 1912, just a few days after it left South Hampton, the thought to be “indestructible” ship hit an iceberg that pierced a hole in the frontal area of the ship and made it sink.
The ship hit the iceberg at exactly 11:40 Pm and sank along with over 1,500 passengers that died because there weren't enough lifeboats to save everyone on board. Can you imagine? A total of 2,224 people were on board that boat, and only a few made it out alive. Such a sad day for humanity.
In 1967, did you know that the famous Kathrine Switzer was flagged down by a bunch of organizers during her Boston Marathon? Yes! That’s right. In this photo, we can see those exact people halting her from crossing the finish line. Of course, in their desperate attempt to do so, it only proved unsuccessful, and she ended up becoming the first Swiss woman to cross the Boston Marathon finish line.
Fortunately, none of these sexist situations are no longer applicable to this day, and nothing can stop a woman from attempting a feat like this. You go, girl!
Did you guys know that Sweden used to be like England where drivers had been given the authority to drive on the opposite side of the road? Well, in 1967, Sweden allowed its traffic laws to be more like the rest of the western world, where they were allowed to drive on the opposite side.
It seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but they crashed into a few issues (pun totally intended) Obviously, as you can see in the photo, there was a huge traffic jam accident after the country shifted their driving laws from the left side to the right side. It’s crazy, but it's a little hard to believe that such countries could allow such laws like these to be placed without getting into an accident.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of history’s iconic role models. In this photo, the late civil rights leader is seen with his son on the front lawn of his home, taking a burnt cross from out of his grass. Being the calm and loving person that he is, he took the cross off his lawn after it was burnt there by white supremacist individuals trying to make a statement.
He is a tough man, and removing the cross from his lawn did not seem to bother him much, and he did this all while his son was watching him take it out.
Have you ever experienced that embarrassing moment when your bathing suit would fly? Although at the present day that can never happen, back in the 1920s, there was a specific person appointed at every beach that had the authority to measure every woman’s bathing suit to make sure that it was long enough and not considered indecent.
If you really think about it, people back then were very strict with women’s attire at the beach; it was considered too short, she will be fined a hefty fee. The feminist in us rejects this idea, and if it were to happen at present, we are all pretty sure that there will be some people objecting to it.
Do you know what the Berlin Wall was made for? Well, in this photo, we see the Berlin wall as it was being made back in 1961. This wall was made to separate East Germany and West Germany. It was built by the German Democratic Republic to cut off the Western part of the City. It was both an ideological and physical barrier.
In this rare image, you can see the eastern side working to build the wall while the other side started to wonder what was going on.
In this photo, we see a little girl sitting on the ruins of her destroyed home, while holding her favorite doll trying to comfort herself. It seems like such an emotional photo, but that’s because it is. It gives you all kinds of feelings. This happened right after a bomb landed in London in 1940.
These bombings were done by the German Army and were known to be called the Blitz as part of World War II. Hopefully, this little girl turned out okay.
Have you been to Disneyland? Have you tried to think about where your favorite Disney characters go to get something to eat? In this photo, we see the Disneyland employees in their own worker’s cafeteria getting their lunch during break time in 1961.
Although their job might seem like the best in the world, it can also be a little tiring, but we can see that they still enjoy what they do and they're all wearing smiles!
No, this photo is not of the Titanic. Although it looks quite similar, this is a photo of the Hindenburg Disaster taken on May 6th, 1937. This sensational photo occurred when the German airship carrying many passengers caught fire when it was trying to dock at a Naval Air Station, Lakehurst in New Jersey.
A total of 36 people were killed in the fire, but thankfully 62 people survived. The event was marked by photographs, newsreel coverage, and eyewitness testimonies that was recorded and played back on the radio to this day. Such a rare opportunity to take this kind of photo. Amazing!
Have you tried to imagine Charlie Chaplin before he became a star? We are all so used to seeing him with this signature mustache, hat, makeup, and attire, but in this rare photo, we see him totally raw. Here we see his 27-year-old self in 1916 before he became famous for his silent movies.
Before he became well known for his silent films, he was a writer, filmmaker, composer, and writer among other things. His comedic timing during the silent film era in Hollywood helped him rise to fame, which we all know him to be to this day.
Elvis in Uniform
Who could forget the reign of the Rock and Roll King, Elvis Presley? We bet it’s hard to imagine him in uniform after all his cool outfits huh? In this rare photo, we see him in his military uniform together with other soldiers being walked somewhere on the base.
Quite a long time before his career shot to fame, this photo was taken in 1958. Of course, he seemed like such a young man in this photo, and we are all not used to seeing him this way. It’s quite refreshing.
The Statue of Liberty
Here we see another angle of the statue of liberty only with her head this time. In this amazing photo, we a young child and a woman standing beside her face as it was being assembled in France. At the time, it was being prepared for shipment to New York so that it can be displayed as a gift to the United States.
Although this has been one of the greatest moments in history, it seems a little disturbing to only take a photo with the statue’s head. This photo was taken in 1885, which also shows women’s style back then. A very rare photo indeed!
This rare picture you see is the last known public execution in America. The last person to be hanged like this was Rainey Bethea on August 14. It was an item of personal interest and controversy because Bethea was to be hanged by Florence Thompson, who was at the time the sheriff of Davies County. The former policeman of Louisville, Arthur L. Hash, was offered to pull the trigger for her, and she willingly accepted her fate.
America was disappointed because, on the actual day of execution, hash showed up drunk and missed his shot. It was a sad day for everyone!
America's Greatest Creation
Mount Rushmore was truly one of America’s greatest creations. In fact, it was even supposed to be much larger than it originally is. In this photo, we see the monument’s designer Gutzon Borglum is seen scrutinizing the scale model.
Sadly, before this scale model was never continued because the project ran out of money.
Ever wondered what an Atomic Bomb would look like when it blows up? In this photo, we see the nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll program, which was a series of 23 nuclear devices detonated by the United States between the years 1946 to 1958. It seems a bit scary that it was detonated so close to neighboring islands, but these weapons were tested on the reef itself and in the air.
This all started in July of 1946, with Operation Crossroads. Don’t worry though, because all the islands were uninhabitable because of all the radiation, which stemmed mostly from cesium-137. The island of Bikini Atoll is one of the 23 islands that consisted of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Now, that’s a photo we don’t see every day.
Behind the Photo
Are you guys a fan of the Beatles? Do you remember their famous pedestrian crossing album cover? Well, here’s a little secret for you, when the Beatles shot their iconic Abbey Road cover in 1969, the primary album photo had to be retaken a number of times for it to be exactly perfect for the cover.
Wait for a second, in this photo; they were going the wrong way! Check out the photo; here’s Paul, George, Ringo, and John, making their way back across the street for another take. They must have had quite a number of bloopers in this shot before getting the right one.
American's Leaving Vietnam
A lot happened in the 1970s. In fact, there were a lot of significant and dramatic moments in history. America’s departure from Vietnam was considered one of the saddest and most heart-wrenching moments of the 1970s, as you can see in the photo.
Seeing as a lot of people tried to fly out of the country and escape, they clung to the final chopper for dear life but unfortunately got punched and kicked for their efforts to board it.
The Moon, 1972
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you leave something personal on a place like the moon? Here’s proof that whatever you leave on the moon will stay there. In 1972, Astronaut Charlie Duke went to visit the Moon on Apollo 16.
Before his trip, he decided to take a photo with his wife and two kids. He left the photo on the surface, where it still remains to this day along with his footprints. He also had a lunar rover along with him on his trip, and you can see the tracks in the photo on the corner.
The Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex
In September of 1962, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson received a tour of the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex. In the photo shown above, it's kind of hard to imagine to see both the President and Vice President in the same room as all the other members of the administration, let alone get along with one another.
It’s rare, because this barely happens, and as you can see everyone seems to be in a heated argument already. What do you guys think of this photo?
The Real Anastasia
Were you a fan of the Disney film Anastasia growing up? That story was actually based on a real-life story. Of course, it wasn’t exactly the same, but it came pretty close. This photo shows a photo of Tsar Nicholas II’s missing daughter Anastasia as he playfully holds a cigarette to her mouth before she went missing.
During the revolution of 1917, Nicholas was executed along with his entire royal family, but since his daughter went missing, there were rumors that she had survived the slaughter and vanished.
Remember the most memorable tragedy of the United States? This photo was taken when confederate veteran Lewis Payne was waiting for his execution, after breaking into the home of William H. Seward, the Secretary of State, the night Abraham Lincoln was shot.
Kind of amazing how this photo was taken of him, and we all thought that not a lot of photos like this would be taken.
The Mona Lisa
Have you guys been to Paris? Have you been to the Louvre? There are many rare paintings in that museum. However, everyone always noticed the Mona Lisa. In this photo, she is seen being returned to the museum after World War II ended. Since they were worried for her safety and to make sure that she wouldn’t get stolen, The French had decided to hide her in the countryside, where she will be safe to wait out the war safety.
Of course, the Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in history, certainly, if something were to happen to it, the French would go ballistic!
The Statue of Liberty
Have you ever tried to imagine the statue of liberty just as it was being constructed? Did you know that it was first built in France before it even found its way to New York?
Well, in this photo, is a rare glimpse of the statue just as it was being made before getting shipped and pieced together very carefully on her pedestal. In the photo, you can also see her left hand holding the tablet while the workers constructed the rest of her parts in 1884.
It has always been a dream for people in the United States, or even people from other countries, to visit the White House in Washington. In this photo, we see Pablo Escobar! Yes, the famous drug lord, hard to imagine him with a son, huh?
But just like any normal person out there, he too had dreams of visiting the White House with his son. This photo was taken during a day tour in 1980. It turns out he has a soft spot after all.
We ask you this simple question, have you ever tried to imagine what happens to a car when a human body is dropped from a building? Seems a little masochistic, but at some point, it is bound to enter your mind. In this photo, you see Evelyn Mchale.
In 1947, she leaped to her death from the top of the Empire State Building, which was almost 102 floors up in the air, and landed on this vehicle you see in the photo. A passerby just happened to have a camera in his hand and snapped this shot.
Helen Keller & Charlie Chaplin
Were you a fan of the silent movie era in Hollywood? If you were, then you’d be happy to see this photo. This rare image shows a very young Helen Keller with the amazing Charlie Chaplin.
In 1919, he was considered the golden star of the silent movie era. Helen Keller could not see or hear either, so, you can guess why Charlie Chaplin became the king of silent movies.
The MGM Lion
Does anyone remember the Lion in Hollywood movies during the late 80’s and 90s? Here’s a rare photo of the MGM lion preparing to roar before the beginning of every movie. This was released in the studio in 1928. Wanna know the name of this handsome Lion? His name is Jack.
MGM actually gave all of their pet lions the name “Leo.” but only the real one was named that. Cool!
Have you ever seen Boardwalk Empire? Well, this photo shows alcohol being poured from out a window during a prohibition. Of course, any business owner will go through all kinds of trouble to make sure that their business thrives.
Sadly, these business owner’s idea was cut short. After police had found out of the illegal business going on inside an apartment, naturally, they had to dispose of the booze. As we mentioned, prohibition was ultimately unsuccessful in the long run because many people draw parallels between contemporary recreational drugs and alcohol.
Roller Skating at the Disco
Ah, the Disco Era! Who could forget all the roller skating and the constant need to disco? Certainly, this is one of those photos that we just can’t get enough of. Did you know that roller skating was invented in the 1930s?
Although it was first introduced during this time, it never really became as popular as it was in the 70s. We have DISCO to thank for that! Yay! In this image, we can see a young woman enjoying her skating with some happy kids from the same neighborhood, during the craze of skating in the 70s. This looks like so much fun!
Buster, the Roller-Skating Rooster
If there was such a thing as roller skating popularity back then, you would never believe your eyes when you see this photo. Here you will see Buster, the roller-skating rooster. Yes, you read that right, a rooster named Buster!
This photo was taken on Aug 17, 1952, during the time buster made his way between a girl’s legs during a photo session with the former Los Angeles Times staff photographer Leigh Weiner. Now, there’s a talented rooster!
Muhammad Ali was no doubt one of the greatest boxers of all time. Do you want to know how he trained for each fight? Before he became who he was, he was Cassius Clay.
In this rare photo, we see him training and posing underwater at the Sir John Hotel, in Miami in 1961. As the saying goes, Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!
This image says a lot about the late Jimi Hendrix. It’s powerful because it was taken before his untimely demise at the age of 27 in 1970. We all know that he was an extremely talented guitarist and has influenced many people during his reign.
He also sang and performed his own music, which makes him one of the greatest in music history. In fact, he was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contributions to music during his career.
Here’s an interesting discovery for you, World War II had a lot of significant moments, but one photo that we just can’t seem to wrap our minds around was this one. Did you guys know that Queen Elizabeth used to serve in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service?
This comes as a huge surprise, because of course, who would have thought that the Queen of England would look absolutely dashing in uniform? During the Second World War, she serviced and drove trucks for the army. Sure, she may have been out of the action, but she still looks like royalty in a uniform!
Robert Downey Jr.& Mike Tyson
It’s amazing; who knew Robert Downey Jr. and Mike Tyson had been friends for the longest time? In this photo, we see them posing with each other. In Mike’s words: “When there was no fighting or training, I would stay in the city at Steve Lott’s apartment. Many times I would visit Columbus Cafe, owned by Paul Herman and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It was located on Columbus Avenue near Lincoln Center.
The Cafe drew many famous actors, actresses, models, musicians, and athletes. Here’s a shot with a very young Robert Downey Jr. His great funny film with Rodney Dangerfield, “Back to School,” was playing in the movies. His career skyrocketed. You must see one of his last movies, “The Judge,” with Robert Duvall - a powerful film.”Coming from Mike Tyson’s words, he truly idolized Robert as a great actor and friend.
Ham the Chimp
We have all heard of the first chimp to journey to the moon. Do you want to know his name? In this photo, we see Ham the Chimp, or otherwise known as Ham the Astrochimp. He was considered the first Hominidae to ever journey to space. He was first launched from Cape Canaveral on January 31, 1961, and thankfully returned back to Earth unharmed except for a small bruise on his nose.
If you are also wondering where he got his name, he was named after the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center in New Mexico. No wonder this chimp became so famous! He certainly deserves his fame!
Salvador Dali & Raquel Welch
Have you guys heard of Raquel Welch? This adorable woman, as you can see in the photo, was one of the most desired women in the 60s. In this photo, we see the famous painter Salvador Dali who painted a portrait of Welch.
Because of her gorgeous looks and figure, it really does make a lot of sense why Dali would paint such a portrait of her or would be infatuated with her as the rest of the world. After finishing the portrait, Dali gave her a kiss on the hand to thank her for posing for his painting.
The Birthday Procession of Queen Elizabeth
Visiting London has its perks. If you were one of the few lucky people to experience those stiff guards outside Buckingham Palace, then you might have wondered how they could withstand harsh weather conditions, like standing under the scorching sun or standing under the pouring rain.
In 1970, during the Birthday Procession of Queen Elizabeth, one of the soldiers fainted. It even happened at the worst possible time because as she was passing by, the soldier fell flat on his face. We don’t blame this guy for not being able to control himself; standing in a heavy uniform on a hot sunny day is indeed a challenge.
The Original Ronald McDonald
Are you afraid of clowns? If you are, then you wouldn’t want to look at this photo. But putting aside your fear for clowns, can you guess who this is? You’ll never guess, but this was the original Ronald McDonald before he became what he is now. Yup! That’s him.
In 1963, this is how he looked like. As we all know, this famous clown was the live logo for the fast-food chain. In this photo we see him carrying a tray of fries and drinks as he waves at the crowd and the photographer. At the time, his face was made of a cup nose and face paint that looked like a clown. Luckily, he looks nothing like this today, and we are glad!
Spray Tanning in the 60s
Have you tried going to a tanning salon to get a tan? Nowadays, the quickest way that you can get a tan is through your local tanning salon. If the beach is not an option for you, this would be your quickest way to an even tan. Want to know how they did it back then?
In 1949, men and women went to a special place to get their skins darkened. In this photo, we see a blonde woman holding a nozzle that is connected to a machine that sprays her skin with tinted tan color. Amazing! Does this sound and look familiar? Yup! It’s exactly the same only the machine is different.
Oh, look, it’s Albert Einstein as never seen before! What a treat! This photo was taken in 1939 in Nassau Point on Long Island, New York. Einstein is the brilliant man behind the theory of relativity and was the Nobel Prize winner in Physics back in 1921. Who can forget all of his contribution to science?
“For his services o theoretical physics and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect” Seeing Einstein in a pose like this relaxed and enjoying the beach is a total surprise, well compared to how he is usually documented, this is totally better!
Andre, the Giant
This is just adorable! This image shows a young boy who is completely in awe before Andre the Giant’s sheer height. Did you know that this guy was over 7 feet and 4 inches tall? Even better, did you know that he was a wrestler and an actor at the same time? No wonder this little boy showed so much love for him.
In case you were wondering, his most famous role was in the film "The Princess Bride," where his gigantism, caused by an excess of the growth hormone came to good use. Of course, this little boy did not understand a thing, but his face surely shows his love for this gentle giant, and we totally agree with him!