Eerie Photos Still Discussed Decades Later

By Sarah Norman | May 5, 2023

17-Year-Old Norma Jean Dougherty, 1943

Vintage photos are windows into the past, whether it's people and events we remember or things that happened a century before our birth. From the Princess of Wales and her baby to clown prince John Candy and his daughter, way back to president Abe Lincoln and his son -- the joy of parenthood shines through.

History's mysteries always draw us in, whether it's a 1,400-year-old monument carved by the Maya of South America or simply a candid glimpse of a geisha with her hair down, we hunger for more of the story. And we can't get enough of celebrities in a new light: teenaged Johnny Carson, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe; Bob Ross in his Air Force days; Johnny Cash fishing in his back yard; Borg and McEnroe chilling away from the tennis court.

Join us on this journey into the past, we promise you'll see something new, as well as familiar things, in a new light. Onward!

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Source: Reddit

This is a pretty girl on a beach, but would you pick her out to become Marilyn Monroe? That's what happened to Norma Jeane Dougherty, who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (but often went by Norma Jeane Baker) and changed her last name when she married James Dougherty. She was 16 when they wed. In this photo, she's standing on the beach at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California. Her husband was stationed at the island's boot camp.

While her husband was off fighting in the Pacific Teater of World War II, Norma Jeane began modeling -- against his wishes. She signed with an agency that determined her figure was better for pinup and cheesecake modeling than fashion, and she was soon appearing in magazines geared toward a male audience. She straightened her hair and dyed it blonde to make herself more marketable, and she soon proved to be one of the agency's most in-demand models. A couple of screen tests and a name change later, and she was destined for the silver screen.

Lady And Her Horse On A Snowy Day In 1899

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Source: Reddit

This photograph of a lady and her horse on a snowy day, taken in 1899 by Félix Thiollier, shows us just how far photographic technology had come during the second half of the 19th century. In the 1850s, photographs (or daguerrotypes) were limited to portraiture and still life, as the long exposure times prevented capturing anything in motion.

The American Civil war was well documented in photographs, but still we see many more portraits and staged photos than candid shots. A major advance came in 1877 and 1878, when Eadweard Muybridge managed to capture the action of a horse running on a track with a row of cameras that fired in sequence. The relative sharpness of Muybridge's shots would have been inconceivable 20 years earlier; two decades later, in this image by Thiollier, we see the horse an woman captured with remarkable clarity in a moment of rapid motion.