Historical Photos We Had No Idea Existed
Stevie Nicks in her post-concert glow, 1980.
When it comes to juicy gossip and titillating tabloids, few subjects offer the breadth of material like celebrities. Rich, famous, and the envy of many, celebrities live in a world most of us only dream about. Also, either thanks to wildly disparate lives or perhaps because of them, celebrities tend to find themselves in the craziest situations imaginable. However, the public lives of these illustrious luminaries often contrast greatly with their private moments away from the limelight. So here’s a snapshot of rare behind-the-scenes photos of some of Hollywood’s heavyweights.
Naturally, performing in front of thousands of screaming fans can get your adrenaline pumping. In this picture, the angelic-sounding Nicks was clearly still flying off the high after her live performance. While her boyfriend Fleetwood Mac had to talk the band into allowing Nicks in, she obviously took her opportunity and ran with it. Of course, their initial hesitation might have played into her threatening to quit every other week.
Elton John and Cher, 1975
Starting in 1970 Elton John began raining hits and all-time albums. In ‘70 alone he preposterously dropped four albums: Tumbleweed Connection, Friends, the Live Album 17-11-70, and Madman Across the Water. The last included “Tiny Dancer”, considered perhaps his masterpiece. After selling 40 million records worldwide along with husband, Sonny, thanks to their mega hit "I Got You Babe" Cher had begun trying her hand as a TV personality for CBS with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, which drew 30 million viewers weekly.
Sean Connery and Claudine Auger taking in some sun on the set of Thunderball, 1965.
Cousin Itt. Addams Family mid-1960’s.
The smartest, smallest, most popular flowing hair this side of your dog, Cousin Itt served as a pillar of the peculiar Adams Family. The ineligible cousin was played by two little people, Felix Silla and Roger Arroyo. Silla told the LA Times the costume was “hot and heavy. Like wearing a brick. All the guys on the set smoked. They just dropped their butts and stepped on them. The producers worried that I might step on a smoldering cigarette and go up in flames. They gave me synthetic hair, which was flame-retardant.”
Sting giving his autograph to a precocious Gwen Stefani, 1983.
Although it is against the unwritten code of Hollywood, even celebrities gush over other celebrities sometimes. Here a young Stefani understandably fangirls out over one of her idols. At the time Sting was red hot coming off five UK chart-topping albums over the previous five years. The Police also scored six Grammys and two Brit awards over that same span. ‘83 was also the year that Sting decided to go solo.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, taking on the town, 1996.
Three really, ridiculously good looking stars prowling the city, what could go wrong? As it turns out for them, not a lot. Depp and DiCaprio worked together on “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and the latter was already filming “Titanic” which would change his and the lives of teenage girls everywhere forever. Pitt’s star was also on the rise after working with Morgan Freeman and David Fincher on “Se7en.”
John Travolta waltzing with Princess Diana at the White House, 1985.
The Reagans orchestrated this press op manna from heaven. The Saturday Night Fever star certainly didn’t see the magical moment coming, “I didn’t know or expect to dance with Princess Diana. It was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, ‘It is her wish,’” Travolta told the Dutch TV station Één. Princess Diana played her part graciously but “wanted to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov because he is my hero,’” recalled her friend Paul Burrell.
A quiet moment with Marilyn Monroe, 1950s.
Most pictures featuring the original Blonde Bombshell portray her wild and crazy life. This photo showed a rare moment of calm in the life of Monroe. Ironically, the woman born Norma Jean Baker actually preferred “Jean Adair” for her stage name. However, Monroe came from her mother’s maiden name and she ended up with Marilyn, thanks to a studio executive who thought she looked like Marilyn Miller.
Joaquin Phoenix, 1996.
Phoenix got his acting start alongside his brother River in television. With siblings named River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer it’s no surprise both brothers ended up in the arts. The New York Times named him one of the greatest actors of the 21 century and he’s got the hardware to prove it. Phoenix earned an Academy Award for his portrayal of The Joker and a Grammy for his role as Johnny Cash in “Walk The Line.”
Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman enjoying a laugh on the set of 'Galaxy Quest,' 1999.
Sigourney Weaver obviously knows how to have a good time. Most famous for her role as the original heroine Ellen Ripley, Weaver also loved comedies. Along with “Ghostbusters”, “Galaxy Quest” displayed both her beauty and comedic chops. She called working on that film “such a wonderful experience” and after Rickman’s passing, “ He’ll be “irreplaceable, eternally.”
Sandra Bullock & Adam Sandler, 1994.
This photo of two of Tinsel Town’s giggliest stars came after the pair introduced an award at one of Hollywood’s many self-congratulatory shows. Bullock probably looks especially jubilant because she accidentally read Sandler’s line, “What was it like kissing Keanu Reeves?” Sandler rolled with it like a true professional, ad-libbing a story about Reeves actually being a terrible kisser, “I said Keanu kiss me don’t swallow me.”
A tender moment between Steve & Terri Irwin and an iguana, 1992.
Perhaps the most famous nature conservationist ever, “The Crocodile Hunter” thrilled audiences with his audacious and seemingly fearless interactions with all manner of terrifying animals. From massive saltwater crocodiles to poisonous snakes Irwin wrangled all kinds of animals impeccably attired in khaki head to toe. He hosted various popular wildlife shows alongside his wife Teri for 15 before his tragic passing in 2006.
“You talkin to me?,” Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro on the set of Martin Scorsese's “Taxi Driver,” 1976.
That famous line from “Taxi Driver” came via the improvisational genius of De Niro. Screenwriter Paul Schrader later admitted, “It’s the best thing in the movie, and I didn’t write it.” Apparently, the iconic actor saw The Boss, Bruce Springsteen say it in response to a screaming fan that De Niro had attended in Greenwich Village just days before.
Marilyn Monroe working with her acting coach, 1947.
Socialite and sex symbol of the ‘50 and ‘60s, Marylin Monroe lit up Hollywood and the box office as her films grossed over $200 million in her day ($2 billion in today’s money). After a successful career as a pinup model, she signed with 20th Century Fox. The studio spent six months teaching her to sing, act, and dance before casting her in several successful comedies. “As Young as You Feel” and “Monkey Business,” helped boost her popularity before showing her drama chops in movies like “Clash by Night” and “Don't Bother to Knock.”
Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Michael Hall, and Uma Thurman on the set of “Johnny Be Good,” 1987.
Written and directed by Robert Downey Sr. “Johnny Be Good” combined the powers of three future Hollywood stars. It was so early for Thurman that the credits read, "Introducing Uma Thurman." The movie also featured five eventual Oscar nominated actors in Downey Jr., Thurman, Seymour Cassell, Jennifer Tilly, and John Hawkes. Downey Sr. even made an appearance playing the NCAA Investigator.
Freddie Mercury enjoying a chat with David Bowie backstage at Live Aid, 1985.
The historic rock marathon that ran 16 hours in London and Philadelphia was witnessed by roughly 1.6 billion people. The unforgettable lineup included Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton among others. Incredibly, the Queen stole the show, delivering a performance never forgotten, netting $127 million for famine relief in Africa.
Josephine "Black Venus" Baker, Paris, 1930.
The trailblazing dancer, actor and singer became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. Her headline role in the 1927 silent film “Siren of the Tropics” spoke for itself. She also stole the show in Paris becoming the toast of town for performance in the revue “Un Vent de Folie” that same year. “Black Pearl” and the “Bronze Venus” were two other nicknames her hordes of adorers heaped on her.
John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin, and Eugene Levy, 1983.
Second City Television operated as Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live. This funny foursome ranks as some of the show’s most famous alumni along with Tiny Fey, Mike Myers, and Martin Short. Candy’s resumé includes “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck” and he appeared in “Home Alone” with Catherine O’Hara. Levy became most famous for his role in “American Pie” while Martin starred in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and took home multiple Tonys.
Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder during a break while filming “Beetlejuice,” 1988.
From the singular mind of Tim Burton came “Beetlejuice,” a mischievous "bio-exorcist" from the netherworld. The fantasy horror comedy film essentially invented its own genre while cashing in nearly $75 million at the box office. The off-the-wall makeup netted the film an Academy Award for Best Makeup. Fun fact: Sammy Davis Jr. ranked as Burton’s first choice for Beetlejuice.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon calling home after winning the Oscars for “Good Will Hunting,” 1997.
Few pictures of celebrities winning Oscars could be described as “heartwarming.” However, the snapshot of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reportedly calling their mothers after winning an Academy Award for “Good Will Hunting” falls in that category. Especially, if you know the backstory of how the pair wrote the movie while living together as struggling actors. Even after the script was bought, it spent years in development and almost never happened.
Frankenstein drinking tea.
When Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” in 1818, it’s unlikely she ever envisioned her title character sipping a cup of tea during breaks. That’s precisely what Boris Karloff did while filming the 1931 science fiction horror film directed by James Whale. Colin Clive played the “mad scientist” Dr. Frankenstein to positive reviews. The film also succeeded at the box office, helping to turn Frankenstein into a cultural icon.
Princess Leia gets a tan during her break, ‘80s.
Being the symbol of hope and freedom for the rebels against the Evil Empire can really take it out of you. That's why Carrie Fisher and her stunt-double found the perfect spot to take in some rays amidst the rubble of Jabba The Hutt’s palace. For obvious reasons her “prisoner’s wardrobe” shocked and titillated audiences used to Princess Leia’s usual modest attire.
Princess Leia takes a nap on planet Hoth
Unfortunately, for Carrie Fisher, the setting for Hoth happened to be in Norway during the winter. Unable to capitalize on any vitamin D between shots, Fisher made use of a snowmobile to catch some much needed Zs while filming “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980. Seeing as how the Star Wars films were printing money hand over fist, could we get a trailer for Carrie, please?
One of the nation’s funniest at one of the nation’s stuffiest.
In the late 1970s, a lanky, red-coiffed comedian named Conan O'Brien matriculated his way through Harvard before graduating a valedictorian in 1981. The future Simpson writer, talk show host, and leader of TeamCoco apparently studied history and literature while attending one of the nation’s premier institutions. Hard to imagine him losing a war of words even amongst such elite company. The man behind the camera? None other than John Candy.
Danny Devito & Arnold Schwarzenegger while filming Twins, 1988.
Few oddball pairings can compare to Mr. Universe and the diminutive “Mr. Dan,” which helped “Twins” rake in an astounding $216 million. In a genius business move, Devito and Schwarzenegger eschewed their typical salaries in exchange for 40% of the film’s box office returns. That shrewd decision earned the duo the highest paycheck of their extremely lucrative careers. Iconic director Ivan Reitman also deserves credit for talking Arnold into changing lanes from actions to comedies.
Beloved English broadcaster, biologist, and natural historian petting a macaw, early 1950s.
Few people on the planet have done more for wildlife conservation than Sir David Attenborough. The man best known for voicing nature documentaries for BBC for decades also continually advocated for the environment at every turn. In the UK he is considered a national treasure with over 18 species of plants and animals named after him to go with his 32 honorary degrees.
Freddie Mercury riding a train with his usual pizazz in Japan, 1982.
Although Mercury became famous for his outgoing and wild personality, those close to him insisted he was actually rather shy. Bandmate Roger Taylor once said, "In real life nobody knew Freddie. He was shy, gentle and kind. He wasn't the person he put over on stage.” Perhaps growing up with the four extra teeth that produced his famous overbite instilled that coyness from an early age.
As master of his domain, George Lucas in nerd nirvana.
For Stars Wars, George Lucas loomed as the man behind the curtain. His obsessive nature and genius creativity spawned a whole new world of filmmaking techniques. Amongst his cadre of models, the mind behind the galaxy far, far away devised a fantasy realm that swallowed multiple generations into borderline unhealthy fandom. Alongside Steven Spielberg, Lucas launched a franchise whose earnings rival that of most countries’ GDPs.
Harrison Ford and Karen Allen having a laugh on the set of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 1981.
The stars of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” look jovial enough, but Steven Spielberg called it “one of my worst location experiences.” The director was referring to the 100 degree temperatures in Tunisia. Luckily for him, he avoided the food illnesses that afflicted over 150 members of the crew by eating canned food he brought from the UK. Karen Allen, who previously worked on National Lampoon’s Animal House obviously soldiered through.
A smoking hot Helen Mirren in the 1970s.
Today many people know Helen Mirren as the most beautiful near octogenarian to ever live. However, it's worth remembering that back in the day she also ranked among the foxiest ladies in Tinsel Town. As she once said, “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.” Obviously, the dame made some great choices along the way.
12 Academy award nominations, three Oscars, and preeminent Laker fan comprise Nicholson’s impressive resume. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Shining,” and “Chinatown” represent the peaks many consider the greatest actor of all time. Ironically, according to an ’86 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, he doesn’t like television much. “If they had just outlawed these light boxes, the world would simply look bigger. But we can’t even get them to stop acid rain—how can you get them to think about what’s beautiful? Because what’s beautiful is all that counts, pal. That’s all that counts.”
18-year-old Mike Tyson with trainer Cus D'Amato before his first professional fight in Albany, New York, 1985.
Before Mike Tyson became known as "The Baddest Man on the Planet," or even "Iron Mike," he started out as "Kid Dynamite." Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Tyson rose through the ranks quickly, claiming his first belt at just 20 years. His ferocious fight style terrified opponents while his memorable sound bites delighted the media. "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth" lives on today.
The Matrix stars
When “The Matrix” hit theaters in 1999, it blew minds; the box office numbers reflected the public’s amazement. When Morpheus told us, "I can only show you the door, you're the one that has to walk through it," the people responded by walking through that door to the tune of $460 million. The special effects of the Wachowskis' brothers also ushered in a new era of CGI.
Lorraine Bracco behind the scenes of “Goodfellas”, 1989.
“Goodfellas” was based on the book “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the movie. The writer chronicled the many acts of violence by the Mafia called the film, a "mob home movie", to The New York Times. Despite relating a number of disastrous deeds, Scorsese still left a college betting scandal and the theft of cosmetics magnate Estée Lauder on the cutting room floor.
Executive producer Steven Spielberg of “Inner Space” brought together the talents of this trio to the sci-fi film inspired by the 1966 picture, “Fantastic Voyage.” The movie also introduced Ryan and Quaid who would eventually get married. After an acrimonious divorce Quaid later called it his “most successful relationship.” Apparently, when Ryan’s star outgrew his, he handled it poorly, “We’d go out on the streets of New York and it would be like, ‘Meg! Meg!’ And I have to admit it, I actually did feel like I disappeared.”
Prince being Prince with his band, 1980.
As this photo illustrates, Prince and his crew danced to the beat of his own piano. What else would you expect from someone whose legal name was actually Prince? The legend of the musical genius spread so far and wide that after his passing the global color authority “Pantone” created a shade of purple named in his honor. It was appropriately called “Love Symbol #2. Troy Crater, an advisor to Prince’s estate said, “This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."
The moments before the most iconic album cover in music history.
Shot in August 1969, the album cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road remains one of the most iconic photos in history. The picture was taken just outside of EMI studios in London where the band developed many of their massive hits. The album was initially going to be called “Everest” but once someone floated the plan of taking the picture in front of the Himalayas they decided that was too much work. Instead, they could walk out their door, snap a shot, and call it “Abbey Road!”
Jimi Hendrix crashing in Ringo Starr’s apartment, London, 1966.
In the ‘60s The Beatles ruled the musical landscape, especially in the UK. When Jimi Hendrix landed in ‘66, he made an immediate impact on London’s blues and rock scene. He quickly rubbed elbows with the city’s resident musical royalty and began renting a flat at 34 Montagu Square from none other than Ringo Starr. Apparently, Hendrix even composed “The Wind Cries Mary” at that very place. Unfortunately, Starr had to ask him to leave after the legendary guitarist whitewashed the walls after taking some “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
Rose Byrne and Heath Ledger, 1999.
On the set of “Two Hands,” the established star Ledger helped his fellow Aussie Rose Byrne find her footing in Hollywood. As she said, “It was a whole mix of us: actors who got work, actors who didn’t,” Byrne said. “Being Australian, you’re outsiders, aliens, so you’ve got to band together. Heath was a real champion of that. He left early and started to get work here. He was so instrumental in helping me and a lot of people get work, and get into rooms.”
Sigourney Weaver & Rick Moranis on the set of “Ghostbusters,” 1983.
Dan Aykroyd’s own fascination with the supernatural gave us “Ghostbusters.” However, some unexpected inspiration actually came during Weaver’s audition. As Ivan Reitman said, "She got on all fours on my coffee table, howling like a dog!" By way of explanation, she told Reitman, "I really think that Dana Barrett should be possessed. She should be like that dog on the roof." The director immediately agreed, “She was barely out of my office and we were writing it already."
Sammy Davis, Jr. with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr backstage in NYC, 1965.
As one of the few black performers to crossover into mainstream Hollywood, Sammy Davis Jr. carried an extra burden unknown to his white counterparts. At his own potential expense, Davis repeatedly lent his celebrity and talents in support of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In ‘65 Davis also talked Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennet into performing at Carnegie Hall for a “tribute to the greatest civil rights leader to emerge in the South since the Civil War.”
Rob Lowe, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Robert Downey, Jr, 1988.
The trio of ageless wonders were photographed at the Governor’s Ball after the Academy Awards. Obviously, the fact that Lowe looks exactly the same merits notice but can we talk about Downey’s tie? Future Iron Man was struggling with addiction issues at the time so we’ll give him a pass. As he said about his struggles, "Job one is get out of that cave. Come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal. Or whatever. But I don't even know if that was my experience."
Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford visiting Eric Idle in his home in 1978.
Eric Idle clearly brought the good times. The Monty Python star known for his complex wordplay could bring a smile to anyone’s face. On this occasion the faces were none other than Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. With over 150 songs to his name, it’s difficult to tell which award winning record the boys were going nuts over. Undoubtedly, Idle’s biggest accomplishment came with his musical “Spamalot,” which was nominated for an astounding 14 Tonys and took home three, including Best Musical.
George Harrison in his backyard, 1975.
As Harrison once said, “I play a little guitar, write a few tunes, make a few movies, but none of that’s really me. The real me is something else.” That “real me” for Harrison included inviting Hell’s Angels to stay at the Beatles offices, loving Formula One racing, and helping fund “Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.” The “quiet Beetle” was also apparently not that quiet. "He never shut up, said Tom Petty. "He was the best hang you could imagine."
Whitney Houston at home in 1982.
Houston got her start in show business early, singing background vocals for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. She also did some modeling at an early age after a scout saw her in Carnegie Hall. She became one of the first African Americans to grace the cover of Seventeen Magazine. In an incredible What-if, she auditioned and won the role of Sondra Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” but ultimately decided to continue with her music career.
Janis Joplin in London, 1969.
When it comes to living life your own way, Joplin succeeded in spades. She got tattoos long before it was trendy. One on her left wrist symbolized the liberation of women and the other of a heart on her breast for, well, we’ll let her explain it… “I wanted some decoration. See, the one on my wrist is for everybody; the one on my t$# is for me and my friends,” she laughed. “Just a little treat for the boys, like icing on the cake."
Christian Slater, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, and Brad Pitt at the premiere of “Interview with the Vampire,” 1994.
Based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name, “Interview With a Vampire” debuted to positive reviews and big box office numbers. The film grossed well over $200 million against a budget of $60 million. That hauled ranked as one of the most successful R-rated horror films of all time. Yet, despite all the accolades and the outrageously loaded cast, the film has not lived on in the way some others have.
Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver looking like bosses, 1983.
In ‘83 these two hall of fame actors-to-be were just getting their feet wet in the world of fame and fortune. Gibson starred in “Mad Max,” “Road Warrior,” and “Gallipoli” but the heights of “Lethal Weapon” still remained a few years away. At the time, Weaver was probably the bigger star, becoming the first action movie heroine in “Alien.” She certainly looks the part of heroine, standing taller than Gibson and chomping on that stogie.
Harrison Ford, 1978
In ‘78 Ford had just come off playing Han Solo in the first “Star Wars” but already looked every bit the part of a matinee idol. It's worth asking if any actor ever matched the heights of playing both Solo and Indiana Jones, two of the most iconic characters in cinema history. Throw in “Blade Runner,” “The Fugitive,” and “Apocalypse Now” and you’ve got one of the most impressive resumes by any actor. And why not throw in two self-piloted plane crashes to round out one of the most improbable lives ever?
A sparkling Betty White, 1948.
Over her long and prestigious career, White found her way into just about every nook and cranny of show business. She started out in radio before transitioning into a staple of so many game shows that she became known as "the first lady of game shows." The trailblazinging actress also earned the distinction as the first woman to produce a sitcom and one of the most distinguished. Over her life she earned five primetime Emmys, two Daytime Emmys, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy!