Stunning Photographs Bring the Past to Life
Young Brigitte Bardot stunning under the summer sun 😍
These moments from history deserve a closer look...and nothing brings out the true life of these moments in time than color. So we hand picked a collection of once black and whites, now in vibrant color.
While these gorgeous colorized photos of the past are definitely a must-see, not all of the stories are fit for consumption, so proceed with caution. Black and white definitely didn't do these photos justice... this colorized collection of photographs captures way more than expected.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a crush on Brigitte Bardot. A cinema idol for multiple generations of people, her inherent French mystique brought her from Paris and cast her into stardom at a young age.
As one of the most famous women on the planet throughout the 1950s and ‘60s the one thing that she didn’t have was anonymity, something that she so deeply wanted. She explained to The Guardian:
I don’t know what it means to sit quietly in a bistro, on a terrace, or in the theatre without being approached by someone.
Rita Hayworth biking around the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel 🚲
Hayworth came into prominence during that strange time in Hollywood when starlets were stripped of everything that made them unique so they could be placed into any film that their contract requested.
Even though Hayworth had her name changed (she was born Margarita Carmen Cansino) and had her hair thinned by electrolysis she brought a seriousness and joy to her roles. Director George Cukor told The New York Times:
She had natural elegance. I saw that immediately, before they fixed her hair, something I may have contributed to did ask for Rita on her first loan-out, ‘Susan and God,’ where she really had little to do. Yes, I knew, right away, she wasn't just another pretty girl. Rita made some of her material better than it was.
Desperate times... October 29th, 1929 the last day of the stock market crash that would become known as Black Tuesday 📉
America faced one of its lowest lows on October 29, 1929 when Wall Street investors traded nearly 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, losing billions of dollars and breaking thousands of investors in one day.
Black Tuesday was the final day of a six day anarchic whirlwind at the Stock Exchange with investment bankers attempting to stabilize the market by buying massive blocks of stock. On Tuesday, stock prices completely collapsed.
This nadir of the Stock Exchange didn’t just wipe out the coffers of investors, it caused the industrialized world to spiral out of control, pushing the United States into the Great Depression.
Here's an odd trio for ya... The tallest, shortest and fattest man of Europe all playing a game of cards, 1913
There’s something fun about this photo of these three luminaries at the top of their field. Aside from being the tallest, smallest, and biggest people on the planet what do you think that these men had to talk about… aside from their bets of course.
Photos like this, which show people who are at the fringes of the human race, have always been fascinating for viewers. Whether it be a morbid need to see how someone else lives or just the enjoyment of seeing something so strange saved to celluloid.
These men clearly made the best of the curveballs life has thrown them. They deserve a good round of poker.
Unpacking Mona Lisa at the end of World War II in 1945
The Mona Lisa is one of the most - if not THE MOST - well known and beloved painting in the world and it’s been stolen multiple times but during World War 2 the painting was sitting pretty in the Louvre, meaning that it had to be kept safe from the Nazis.
Jacques Jaujard, director of France's National Museums, concocted a plot to keep the art in the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, from falling into the hands of Nazis.
On August 25, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union announced their Nonaggression Pact and Jaujard closed the three days “for repairs.” During this time the Louvre staff removed paintings from their frames (if that was a possibility), moved statues, and placed these items in wooden crates.
The crates were then marked with red dots to mark the significance of the art (the Mona Lisa received three dots) and on August 28, 1939, hundreds of trucks carrying 1,000 creates of artifacts and 268 crates of paintings to the Loire Valley where the art was kept far from bombing targets.
Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey peers into the fog, searching for the elusive ball. The fog was so thick the game was eventually stopped
This photo from 1954 of Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey looking into the fog for an elusive ball is often mistaken for a viral story from 1937. In that story a game was played during such a foggy day that a goal keeper stayed on the pitch for 15 minutes until after the game was called.
The story that this photo is often misattributed to comes from a game played on Christmas Day in 1937 when Chelsea played Stamford Ridge. Due to a dense fog the game had to be called after 61 minutes. Unfortunately no one told Stamford Bridge’s goalkeeper. He later explained:
I paced up and down my goal-line, happy in the knowledge that Chelsea were being pinned in their own half. ‘The boys must be giving the Pensioners the hammer,’ I thought smugly, as I stamped my feet for warmth… After a long time a figure loomed out of the curtain of fog in front of me. It was a policeman, and he gaped at me incredulously. ‘What on earth are you doing here?’ he gasped. ‘The game was stopped a quarter of an hour ago. The field’s completely empty’. And when I groped my way to the dressing-room, the rest of the Charlton team, already out of the bath and in their civvies, were convulsed with laughter.
Night fishing in Hawaii, 1948
This photo is absolutely breathtaking. Imagine wading out into the tide driven waters of the ocean with a live fire hanging over your head as the only thing to use while fishing with a spear.
Hawaiians have been using spears to fish in shallow water for generations, usually strong woods like kauila, o`a, koai`e, and uhiuhi. These spears had to be six or seven feet long, and of course they had to have a sharp point at the end.
They lit their night excursions and enticed fish to their spears with the light of kukui-nut torches made of coconut leaves attached to homemade poles. If they needed a brighter light they burned the nuts in a large piece of bamboo.
Charlie Chaplin attends the premiere of his newest film City Lights in Los Angeles, accompanied by Albert Einstein. February 2, 1931.
Albert Einstein wasn’t the kind of egg head who just liked to pal around with other scientists and talk math all day. He was imaginative, funny, and he thought of himself as an artist so it makes sense that he enjoyed Chaplin’s work.
The two were introduced by Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Studios, and after a dinner at Chaplin’s the two became close friends. Chaplin and Einstein attended the premiere of City Lights together in 1931 along with Einstein’s wife Elsa.
Supposedly Einstein said that he was envious of Chaplin’s fame because without a word the world understands him, to which Chaplin replied, “But your fame is even greater… the world admires you when nobody understands you.”
Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia
During World War I Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence had an extremely unique position in the Middle East. He worked as a British demolition artist working with Arab rebel allies to attack bridges and isolated depots belonging to the Ottoman Empire.
Aside from being the subject of Lawrence Of Arabia, Lawrence was the most prolific demolition expert of the era. He says that he blew up 79 bridges along the railway, destroying bridges so they had to be torn down before they could be reconstructed.
Lawrence did so much damage to the Ottoman railways that many of them are still standing today, the Turkish military just left some of the rubble rather than tear it down. Much of the destroyed railways still stand today.
Henry Behrens, the smallest man in the world dances with his pet cat in the doorway of his Worthing home, 1956.
Measuring at a minuscule 30 inches in height, Henry Behrens was the smallest man in the world during his life. He weighed only about 32 pounds and he toured the world with Burton Lester’s troupe of little people.
In the late 1940s and ‘50s Behrens was a bit of a fascination with people who were “abnormal” or out of the usual. This kind of obsession didn’t bother Behrens, he loved being in the spotlight and all the pleasures that it brought him. Why else would he be dancing with a cat? You don’t put yourself in danger of getting scratched if you don’t want to be famous.
Koboto Santaro, a Japanese military commander, wearing traditional armor, in 1863
Taken by Felice Beato, the original version of this photo was hand colored by the photographer. He preferred to take full-length portraits taken in the studio in order to focus on the traditional costumes and traditions of the culture that fascinated him.
His photos of Japan and Japanese traditions featured vignetting around the edges in order to give them a more painterly quality. The traditional armored costume shown here was worn by the samurai, a soldier of a noble class who carried out the wishes of Japan’s rulers from the 12th century until the 1800s.
It's not exactly clear what the samurai is holding in his hand, but even if its a tickle weapon this guy has enough sharp implements on him that will make you want to keep your distance.
Homecoming Soldier, Vienna, Austria by Ernst Haas
Throughout his 40 years as a photographer Ernst Haas staggered the line between photojournalist and artist. When taking photos of soldiers returning from World War 2 it’s impossible not to provide some kind of look into history regardless of the artfulness of the work.
His photo essay “Homecoming” show the confusion and desperation of post war Europe, especially when on the hunt for lost relatives among the survivors of concentration camps. The photo essay was a hit and Haas received a number of job offers from the success - all of which he turned down. He explained:
What I want is to stay free, so that I can carry out my ideas... I don’t think there are many editors who could give me the assignments I give myself.
"Adoration of a President-to-Be" - Newly engaged John F. Kennedy & Jacqueline Bouvier - Cape Cod, July 4th 1953
Following their engagement, John F. Kennedy and Jacquelyn Bouvier went on a trip to to the Kennedy family home in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod with a reporter in tow to capture their newly engaged bliss.
An entire issue of Life Magazine was dedicated to their engagement photos. It was published on July 20 with the headline “Senator Kennedy Goes a-Courting.” It’s clear that Jackie loves John in these photos, but she later explained that her love wasn’t meant to be taken as putting him on a pedestal:
Now, I think that I should have known that he was magic all along. I did know it — but I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with and see our children grow up together. So now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man.
A group of bootblacks gathers around an old Civil War veteran in Pennsylvania, 1935.
As strange as it may sound, Civil War veterans were still alive and kicking well into the 20th century. Famously, the last surviving Civil War veteran passed away in 1956, although it’s likely that there were a few more kicking around at the same time.
During the Civil War there young men were conscripted into battle if they could hold a gun and follow orders, which means that some veterans likely had entire adult lives to lead after they served in the bloodiest war fought on American soil. Imagine the kinds of stories that guys like this must have had.
Winston Churchill as a Cornet in the 4th Queen's Hussar's Cavalry, 1895. He was 21 at the time.
The life of Winston Churchill was sculpted by his dedication to Great Britain and its army. As a member of the 4th Queen's Hussar's Cavalry the young Churchill recognized that he was serving during “the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the Victorian Era,” a time when England was totally unchallenged as a military force.
During his time as a member of Hussar’s Cavalry Churchill’s time was divided between a seven month summer training season of training and five months of extended leave.
During a period of leave in 1895 Churchill took off for Cuba in order to have a personal adventure before shipping off to India with the rest of his regiment.
We tend to think of Albert Einstein as this vaulted genius who handed down theories and equations from on high, but he was nothing like that. Einstein didn’t see himself as God’s gift to intellect, but as an artist whose medium was science. In 1929 he told the Saturday Evening Post:
I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am… [but] I would have been surprised if I had been wrong… I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
By combining knowledge, imagination, and inspiration Einstein was able to open himself up to discoveries that many scientists and heavy thinkers would likely ignore.
Geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor and Meteorologist Charles Wright photographed on the 5 January 1911 at the entrance of a grotto in the side of an iceberg with the Terra Nova ship in the background
Explorations of the Arctic were all the rage at the turn of the century. Explorers were competing with one another to be the first person to reach the South Pole and in 1911 British explorer Robert Falcon Scott set out on the Terra Nova Expedition to make his mark on history.
The party experienced intense blizzards, animals that dropped due to the bone chilling cold, and claims that the men were on nothing more than a “pole hunt.”
On January 16, 1912, after nearly a year of hardship Scott’s team set out across the Great Ice Barrier and journeyed through white nothingness until they reached a flag, they’d been beaten to the poll by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen by a month.
Charlie Chaplin in 1916, at the age of 27
We tend of think of Charlie Chaplin as his most famous character the Tramp, but he was nothing like the bowler hat wearing, down on his luck man that he portrayed onscreen.
He started his life as a boy in poverty, the son of a failing actress, but he quickly took to the stage and made his way to America from London. It didn’t take long before he was a sensation. While performing in the New York vaudeville world the concept of the Tramp came to him via memories of his father. He explained:
It was just released whole from somewhere deep within my father, it was really my father’s alter ego, the little boy who never grew up: ragged, cold, hungry, but still thumbing his nose at the world.
Salvador Dali standing on the deck of the S.S. Normandie as it docks in New York City, 1936
Salvador Dalí is a timeless artist that never really feels in places at any decade, but in the early 20th century he was turning heads with his surreal paintings and post modern visual experiments. His early trips to New York City helped the artist form a broader idea of his art form and inspired him throughout the rest of his life.
On his first trip to the city with his wife Gala, Dalí travelled on board the Champlain from France and that his cabin was on one of the lower decks near the machine rooms.
Patroness Caresse Crosby notes that Dalí flourished where some members of the ship might have been agitated. He noted, “I am next to the engine, so that I’ll get there quicker.”
Eunice Hancock, a 21-year-old woman, operates a compressed-air grinder in a Midwest aircraft plant during World War II. August 1942.
During World War 2 men were pulled away from the amor force in order to enlist in the fight against Japan and Germany. To fill the void left in the labor market women took on jobs in manufacturing, utilities, and transportation.
Nearly 2 million women from all over the country took up jobs on assembly lines and in plants where they produced pieces of armaments and machinery for the war effort.
During the war the amount of women in the workplace increased from 27 percent to 37 percent, meaning nearly one out of every four married women were working outside of the home by 1945. These women were just as important to winning World War 2 as the men overseas and we salute them.
"West meets East" - Two german brothers , separated by The Berlin Wall, meet again during the “border pass agreement” of 1963
After the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 no one was allowed to cross regardless of if they were a child, a worker, or even someone who was lost on one side of the wall by accident. If you were in the east when it went up that’s where you stayed.
In 1963 a border pass agreement was reached which allowed the people of West Berlin to visit the eastern side of the city.
This small humanitarian effort wasn’t a perfect solution but it created some relief for the people who were still in shock after the wall went up. After all, many of the people of Germany hadn’t seen their family for at least two years. It took another 25 years before the wall came down permanently.
100 years ago Mata Hari was shot after blowing a kiss at the French firing squad who executed her for accusations of being a spy
There’s no spy with a story as murky as Mata Hari, the dancer turned spy during World War I who combined sexuality and espionage to catch a grasp of the public’s minds in both fiction and reality.
Even before she was a star Mata Hari was amazing at impersonating a different figure. Her early dances saw her masquerading as Lady MacLeod, the daughter of an English lord even though she used an Eastern dancing style.
Mara Hari’s career as a spy was short lived even if it did become thing of legend. She pawned herself off to various military leaders, which earned her a place in front of a firing squad on Oct. 15, 1917. She refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to the men taking her life.
A photographer uses his own backdrop to mask Poland's World War II ruins while shooting a portrait in Warsaw, November 1946.
By the end of World War 2 much of Europe was in rubbles regardless of which side of the fighting they were on. Poland saw some of the most devastating destruction of the war, leaving the country a waste land where once beautiful structures stood.
Survivors tried to get back to regular life, but how do you go back to the before times when your city has fallen apart. Photographers did their best to make life feel normal, if not beautiful by creating back drops that made it look as if the war had never happened - or if it did that the subject didn’t know anything of it, that they hadn’t been affected.
It may seem like these people were ignoring the horrors of war, but this is the only way they could get through it.
American soldiers watch as the Tricolor flies from the Eiffel Tower again, August 25, 1944, Paris, France
After four years of Nazi occupation Paris was finally liberated on August 25, 1944. The writing was on the wall for German forces so they didn’t put up much of a fight when the French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division rolled into town to take back the city of lights.
According to legend Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the German garrison in Paris, to destroy the Eiffel Tower and burn the city to the ground rather than allow it to be liberated. Rather than destroy so much beauty Choltitz simply surrendered to the forces.
Two days later there was a liberation march through the Champs d’Elysees, Paris was once again free.
American troops of the 1st Infantry Division leaving the port of Weymouth, England en route to Omaha Beach in Normandy in June 1944
Going into the Battle of Normandy, a horrendous fight that lasted from June 1944 to August 1944 over the control of Western Europe must have been a stomach churning experience for these soldiers.
As some 156,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers made their way towards 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region did they know that they would be fighting non stop for almost a month?
The fighting began on June 6, but it was meant to start a day earlier. A bad weather delay held off the attack for 24 hours, as the troops shipped out Eisenhower told them:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.
Drought refugee from Polk, Missouri, with his son awaiting the opening of orange picking season at Porterville, California in 1931
The dust bowl made Americans migrants in their own country, running from the devastation of their homes and farms to pacific coast in search of a seasonal job. These hard working Americans were seen as nothing more than intruders who wanted to suck the government coffers dry.
Enticed to California by flyers offering jobs as crop hands, these migrant workers were derided by California residents who were also looking for work during the Great Depression.
Many of the immigrants who came in search of work were mired in poverty, and the lucky ones were given jobs picking seasonal fruit and vegetables for barely any money.
Dutch Resistance fighters armed with captured German weapons talk in the streets of Breda, Netherlands following its liberation in 1944
When Germany took over much Europe at the onset of World War 2 it was like a shock akin to being thrown into a cold bath. No one expected the Nazis to move as quickly as they did and with such brutality.
As the war went on resistance fighters from across the continent formed their own secret groups and struck back at the Germans, slowly winning their countries back.
The Dutch resistance group helped the allies with counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications within the occupied country and in 1944 the southern part of the country was liberated, it took another eight months to regain control of the Northern part of the Netherlands.
Future 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, photographed with wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, and friends/family on their wedding day in Newport, Rhode Island on the 12 September 1953
It’s no surprise that JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier had a storybook wedding, after all they were America’s couple. Stealing away to Rhode Island for their nuptials on September 12, 1953, they were the focus of media scrutiny the likes had never seen before.
Their union was as close as the United States has ever gotten to a royal wedding, with hundreds of kookie-loos outside of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church waiting to see the newlyweds.
Following a blessing from Pope Pius XII, the couple were married by Richard Cushing, the Archbishop of Boston and a close personal friend of the Kennedy family.
Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, photographed in 1882. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London.
Well known cheek and literary genius Oscar Wilde spent much of his time on Earth either writing brilliant works of salacious art or dishing out sass like he was getting paid for it.
In 1882 he came to the United States and spent a year traveling across its wide expanses and visiting cities like San Francisco. During that time he gave 150 lectures and ended up speaking to 200,000 people. At one point he even spent the night in a silver mine in Colorado, an evening that he loved. He explained:
I dined with the men down there. They were great, strong, well-formed men, of graceful attitude and free motion. Poems everyone one of them. A complete democracy underground. I find people less rough and coarse in such places. There is no chance for roughness. The revolver is their book of etiquette.
King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania arriving at Dover, England for a state visit on May 12, 1924
Born in Edinburgh in 1875, Marie of Romania was wed to Crown Prince Ferdinand in 1892. She gave up her life in the fields of England to become a beloved monarch in Eastern Europe. Researchers say that it’s because of her that Ferdinand allied himself with the English against Germany.
After more than 20 years in the wilds of Romania, the King and Queen went on a diplomatic tour of Western Europe in 1924. They visited France, Switzerland, Belgium and the United Kingdom where they were openly welcomed by King George V who announced welcomed the couple saying:
Apart from the common aims, which we pursue, there are other and dear ties between us. Her Majesty the Queen, my dear cousin, is British born.
Martin Luther King Jr. at the pulpit
Martin Luther King Jr. spearheaded the Civil Rights movement throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, delivering fiery speeches that called for the end of segregation, not through violence but through loving your neighbor in spite of their faults (no matter how racist they might be) and turning the other cheek.
Six months after the March on Washington novelist Robert Penn Warren spoke to King about how he wanted to use non-violence to create an integrated society. King explained:
I think [violence and hatred] will end up creating many more social problems than they solve, and I'm thinking of a very strong love. I'm not, I'm thinking, I'm thinking of love in action and not something where you say, 'Love your enemies,' and just leave it at that, but you love your enemies to the point that you're willing to sit-in at a lunch counter in order to help them find themselves. You're willing to go to jail.
Presidential Candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy, talking to his brother and campaign manager, Robert F. Kennedy, in a hotel room in Los Angeles during the Democratic National Convention in July 1960
Quite possibly the most important Democrat National Convention that ever occurred happened in July 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy scratched and clawed his way to a nomination for Democratic candidate with his brother at his side as campaign manager.
Kennedy was facing off against multiple old guard Democrats but his fiery, take no prisoners attitude caught the elder statesmen off guard and he earned his spot at the top of the card. Taken by John Loengard, this photo shows a moment between the two brothers where John was telling Robert about his pick for VP. Loengard explains:
I was doing a story on Bobby Kennedy. The morning after Jack was nominated, we went up to his room. The brothers talked very quietly, and Jack told Bobby he wasn’t going to choose [labor union leader] Walter Reuther for Vice President. . . . I waited outside for Bobby to come out. When he did, he was furious. We were walking back down the stairs, and Bobby was hitting his hand like this, saying ‘Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.’ You know, he really hated [Lyndon] Johnson.
Princess Elizabeth did her part for the war effort when she served as an ambulance driver for the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. 1945
During World War 2 everyone throughout the allied nations wanted to do their part for the war effort, even Princess Elizabeth. She wanted to be apart of the effort so badly that she spent months pestering her father to allow her to do something for her country.
Finally, when she was 18 years old, she was allowed to join the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service where she trained as a mechanic and a truck driver while also acting as an ambulance driver.
Queen Elizabeth may seem stuffy, but during World War 2 she was gung ho as anyone to make sure that freedom rang throughout Europe.
Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama circa 1955
Rosa Parks was working long hours as a seamstress in a department store in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, when she boarded a bus on December 1, 1955.
As the bus became crowded with white passengers she was told to move to the back but she stayed put and was arrested for the crime of sitting calmly in a seat while black. Park’s arrest led to a 13 month boycott of Montgomery’s city busses - one of the first and largest acts of black activism in the country at the time.
The boycott not only put a spotlight on the Civil Rights movement but it made the 26 year old Martin Luther King Jr. into the national concern as a leader for a new era of American politics.
Titanic Orphans, brothers Michel and Edmond Navratil, 1912. They were the only children to be rescued from the Titanic without a parent or guardian.
When the RMS Titanic went down into the Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 14, 1912, many children on board lost their parents to the waves. However, the only children who lost their mother and father was twin boys Michel and Edmond Navratil.
These boys survived the sinking of the Titanic by making their way onto the Collapsable D, the ninth and final life-saving vessel. After the boys were placed onto the lifeboat by their father he was told to remain on board the doomed ship.
Until the French children could be taken back to their home country to be taken care of by a family member they were watched over by a Titanic survivor who spoke French. In a strange twist of fate authorities discovered that the children’s mother was alive in Nice, France.
Their mother had no idea that her boys were being taken to France by their father. She had full custody of the boys and thought that they’d been kidnapped, she had no idea how right she was.
The Russian author Tolstoy, regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time posing in 1908
Taken two years before his death, this photo shows Leo Tolstoy basking in the love of his family. His writing at the time dealt with his coming end and the way he believed that love was the most important thing to him in his final days. He wrote:
Love is life. Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
He passed away at the age of 82 from pneumonia. Thousands of Russian peasants lined the streets at his funeral procession in spite of the police’s attempts to keep them away.
Winston Churchill & Charlie Chaplin, on the set of “City Lights," 1929
A lover of the cinema, Winston Churchill, was a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin. Even though they were politically at odds Churchill and Chaplin were admirers of one another and Chaplin was Churchill’s guest at Chartwell two times in his life.
When Churchill visited the United States in 1929 he and Chaplin hung out a few times, first at a party organized by William Randolph Hearst and later at the Bitmore Hotel for dinner.
Following the premiere of City Lights in 1931, Chaplin went to England and was met by beloved crowds and he ended up dining with Churchill at his home, entertaining his children with tricks, and bantering about revolutionaries like Ghandi.
In Grace Kelly's earliest gigs she was told that her chin was "too wide"
In five short years Grace Kelly went from an unknown actress to one of the most sought after stars in the world - and then she became a literal princess. She grew up the daughter of a three time Olympic gold medallist who owned a construction company worth millions and a mother who was champion swimmer and cover model. Kelly was nurtured to be successful on the big screen.
After high school she refused to take her parent’s money and paid her way with modeling gigs. She nabbed a Cosmo cover and took whatever print ads came her way.
Even though she was stunningly beautiful and whip smart success still eluded her. After she was cast in Mogambo things turned around. When audiences saw her shoot her sweetheart on screen they were enamored. She received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and the Golden Globe.
Colorized picture of Walt Disney proudly showing a map of his first theme park called "Disneyland" .
What is it about color that gives us a more broad understanding of the past? Is it simply the added depth that it brings to the photo? Or does it become easier to contextualize the visuals that we’re looking at when they’re not black and white? Whatever it is, the following photos were once lacking color, but thanks to some very patient digital editors they’ve been updated to reflect modern photographic standards.
Not only do these colorized photos of the early 20th century bring a new understanding to the past, but they’re just cool to look at. Whether you’re curious about historical figures whom you’ve only seen in black and white, or major world events that occurred before color photography, we’ve got you covered. Let’s go.
In the 1950s most amusement parks were filled with roller coasters, creepy vendors who were working on their own, and alcohol was prevalent; Walt Disney felt that these parks weren’t good for the whole family, and he wanted to create a space where everyone felt safe. By the late 1940s Disney already had a handful of characters who are still popular today (Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, and Mickey), so it made sense to build Disney’s park around them. Disney felt that he could bring the characters to life in a way that made kids happy while giving parents a fun place to explore. Disney explained his idea as a way to say thanks to the families who helped keep his business afloat:
The one thing for me... the important thing... is the family, and keeping the family together with things. That's been the backbone of our whole business, catering to families… The park means a lot to me. It's something that will never be finished, something I can keep developing.
After a $17 million construction, Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 with 26 attractions including the King Arthur Carrousel, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and Snow White's Scary Adventures.
Colorized photo of the Hoover Dam under construction (1935).
Built on the border of on the border between Nevada and Arizona, the Hoover Dam is one of the most majestic pieces of man made beauty ever constructed. Started during the Great Depression, thousands of workers came to the area in hopes of making a better life for themselves while working their fingers to the bone.
The sheer amount of manpower behind the dam was important for keeping the construction ahead of schedule. By 1935, 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete was used to create the dam before crews finally finished pouring it on May 29, 1935, long before the dam’s dedication on September 30, 1935.
Danish explorer Peter Freuchen and his third wife, Dagmar Cohn -1947.
When someone looks this cool then you know they’ve got some great stories. Peter Freuchen is one of those guys who’s seen it and done it all. Born in Denmark in 1886, Freuchen started out his life like a normal upstanding citizen. When he was in his late teens he went to school for medicine but found that this wasn’t the life he wanted to lead, instead he sought adventure.
In 1906 he traveled to Greenland before taking a dogsled 600 miles to hunt and to trade with Inuits. The coat he’s wearing in this photo is actually made from a polar bear that he killed while on the hunt. It perfectly fits his massive frame. By 1910 Freuchen was lecturing about the Inuit culture before taking another trip across Greenland that found him stuck in a blizzard and buried in snow. He finally dug himself out of the ice by using a knife made from his own feces. And that’s why he’s the best dinner guest anyone could ask for.
Henry Behrens, the smallest man in the world dances with his pet cat in the doorway of his Worthing home, 1956.
Even though Henry Behrens was the smallest man in the world in 1956, standing at a height of 30 inches, it’s clear that this is a huge cat. At just over two feet tall Behrens was a part of “Burton Lester's midget troupe,” which might sound like an existence that’s not exactly PC, but in the ‘50s it was one of the few ways in which smaller people could make a living.
Behrens clearly lead a nice life, and he had a cat that put up with his shenanigans. Aside from his small stature and large cat, Behrens lead as normal a life as possible where he cooked and cleaned like the rest of us even while referring to himself as “Colonel Peewee.”
Norman Rockwell After the Prom - Reference photo 1957.
This reference photo for Norman Rockwell’s “After the Prom” not only shows how realistic his paintings are (for a minute you thought this was the painting didn’t you), but it’s also an illustration of Rockwell’s keen eye for detail. Even though Rockwell is obviously supremely talented, his wok wasn’t considered to be “artistic” during his lifetime, with many of his contemporaries labeling him an illustrator more than a serious artist.
That being said, it’s clear that even though Rockwell was interested in showing the simplicity of small town of American life, he was also seriously dedicated to making his work look as real as possible - something that wouldn’t only be appreciated after his death.
Building the Statue of Liberty, Paris, 1881.
After the Statue of Liberty was proposed by Édouard René de Laboulaye, president of the French Anti-Slavery Society in the late 1800s it took decades to finally finish. The statue was meant as a memorial to the independence of the United States, built by workers from France and the US as a way to unite the countries.
The designers chose Columbia, the personification of the United States, as the perfect figure for the statue while combining her with Libertas, the goddess of freedom. The pieces of the statue were built in France before they were moved via steamer to America where the various pieces were constructed in order to form the statue that thousands of people still visit today.
"West meets East" - Two german brothers, separated by The Berlin Wall, meet again during the “border pass agreement” of 1963.
When the Berlin Wall was put up in 1961 it curbed a major crisis between the Soviet controlled areas of Germany and the more capitalist West Berlin. No one was a huge fan of the wall, but as JFK said, “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” When the barricades went up no one was allowed to pass through the checkpoints and entire families were cut off from one another. Imagine being separated from your friends and loved ones for an unforeseeable future simply because you live one mile away from an arbitrary border.
With the border pass agreement of 1963 regulations were put in place in order to allow people in the West to visit their relatives in the eastern part of the city. It would be decades before the wall was torn down for good and Berliners could truly roam free.
Clint Eastwood working on his 1958 Jag XK 120 (1960)(Colorized)
This photo was snapped a few years before Eastwood really hit it big in Hollywood. Of course, he had to go all the way to Italy to get his first major hit in A Fistful of Dollars. Before that he appeared in b-movies like Tarantula and as a second (or third) fiddle to stars like Tab Hunter in the war film Lafayette Escadrille.
Aside from his film appearances Eastwood was also a mainstay on television western like Death Valley Days and Rawhide. All of that TV must have been pretty good money, how else could he have afforded such a swanky ride?
Major Donald James Matthew Blakeslee from Ohio became the first flier in history to shoot down an enemy plane with the P-47 Thunderbolt - 15 April 1943.
Some colorized photos really put the viewer in the action, and this snapshot inside Major Blakeslee’s cockpit feels so real that you want to reach out and touch his goggles. In 1943 Blakeslee was flying a P-47 Thunderbolt with the 335th Fighter Squadron. During his time flying with RAF Blakeslee flew 240 combat hours and ended up with three confirmed victories. Blakesless was open about his love of flying into combat and often joked:
You dead-eye shots take all the fun out of it. When a guy like me is motoring along and has to start hosing them down to see where the bullets are going, that's when it's fun.
Otto von Bismarck died on July 30 in 1898.
This is the look a man who’s seen things, who’s lived a life, who’s spent more time in battle than than he has at home. Bismark was a foreign affairs genius who was the founder and first chancellor of the German Empire, which lead him to be an authoritarian throughout his rule. After decades of control over the country, the election of 1890 pushed Bismark out of power and he resigned rather than leading the country into a major civl war. In spite of his major wealth, in the last years of his life Bismarck issued terse rebuttals to the government than followed his reign.
Colorized photo of a room aboard the Titanic.
When we think of traveling by sea by ocean liner we often think of tiny rooms that are closer to prison cells than they are fanciful getaways, but the Titanic was an entirely different beast. For riders who were cruising in the first class section there was no expense spared. The boat’s interior was more akin to the palace of a foreign dignitary than a cruise ship, with opulent craftsmanship meant to awe its riders as they floated in a state of placid passivity.
The most wealthy of riders on the Titanic had the ability to purchase tickets for multiple suites that were connected to one another. After doing so they could open the interconnected doors and create a massive suite.
The last known photo ever taken of Franz Reichelt, an Austrian-born French tailor, who is posing here in a parachute of his own design, before jumping off the Eiffel Tower.
Everyone has a dream, and even though some of them may sound outlandish we still chase them with the fervor of a dog chasing tires. Franz Reichelt saw the future. He understood that he could save the lives of his peers and people he never met by using air resistance, he just didn’t know exactly how to do it.
With air travel becoming a normal way of life in the early 20th century, Colonel Lalance of the Aéro-Club de France offered a prize of 10,000 francs to anyone with the ability to create a working parachute. Reichelt was a tailor and he used his knowledge of fabric to create foldable silk wings and something called a “parachute-suit” that fit like a normal flight suit but with an added canopy, and rubber lining.
On the morning of February 4th, 1912 Reichelt revealed that he would jump from the Eiffel Tower to prover the efficiency of his parachute-suit, saying, “I want to try the experiment myself and without trickery, as I intend to prove the worth of my invention.” At 8:22 am he leapt from the Eiffel Tower and sank through the air like a stone.
Royal group, including Kaiser Wilhelm II and Edward VII, in the Crimson Drawing-Room at Windsor Castle, November 17, 1907.
The intricately colored photo shows a veritable who’s who of the European patriarchy only a mere seven years before the world would be cast into war with the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. This photo shows members of the English royal family hanging out with the royal family of Russia including King Edward VII, the Princess Beatrice of Great Britain, Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia, and German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Even though it was nearly a decade before war broke out in Europe, it must have been a tense day in the Crimson Drawing-Room. Not only were most of these people at odds, but they had to stand completely still while a the photo was taken. And you think your family photos are bad.
Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali - March 1964.
In February 1964 the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay was indoctrinated into the Islamic religion and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He and Malcolm X became fast friends, but as X separated himself from Elijah Muhammad, Ali broke off his friendship from the political leader. Before the two could reconcile X was assassinated in the middle of a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965. Ali wrote in his autobiography:
Turning my back on Malcolm was one of the mistakes that I regret most in my life. I wish I’d been able to tell Malcolm I was sorry, that he was right about so many things. But he was killed before I got the chance… Malcolm and I were so close and had been through so much.
Troops from the 101st Airborne with full packs and a bazooka, in a C-47 just before take-off from RAF Upottery Airfield to Normandy, France for “Operation Chicago". June 5, 1944.
Every time soldiers in World War II went into a mission they were aware that it could have been their last. “Operation Chicago” was just one of three missions carried out by the 101st Airborne Division that put them directly into harm’s way. Aside from bringing more men into Normandy, the mission also saw the military bringing in serious firepower.
The men made their way into France via Dakota C-47s and Waco gliders around 4am. While the operation was a success, the infantry lost 500 men, including General Pratt, second in command of the division. Another operation occurred a day later and was similarly successful.
Frank Sinatra arrested on charges of seduction and adultery - Mugshot from November 27, 1938.
Everyone has seen Frank Sinatra’s mugshot from 1938, but looking at it in color brings an entirely new layer to the myth of old blue eyes. So what was Sinatra arrested for, brawling? Rum running? Nothing so exciting. The singer was arrested after he was found sleeping with a woman “of good repute” under “the promise of marriage.”
Ultimately the charges against Sinatra were dropped when it was revealed that the woman was married at the time that she was sleeping with the singer. That’s not the first time Sinatra came up against a morals charge, but that kind of thing amplified his mythology rather than dampen it.
Colorized photo of a gorgeous Dolly Parton.
From the daughter of a poor Appalachian family to the world’s number one country star, Dolly Parton is truly one of the most successful performers who’s ever lived. In 1977 she transitioned from a purely country artist to a more pop oriented performer who consistently scored crossover hits, and a year later she scored a Grammy win for “Here You Come Again.”
Throughout the late ‘70s Parton appeared on shows with Cher and Carol Burnett, showcasing her range of comedy and musical talent. Her biggest hit came when she performed the theme song to 1980’s Nine to Five which reached number one on the country chart and two adult-contemporary charts.
The statue of Lady Justice - The Old Bailey - London, In 1937 the statue was re-gilded in preparation for the Coronation of King George V.
Hands up, who wouldn’t have realized that this was a colorized photo if we wouldn’t have told you? The work done on this snapshot is so well done that it looks as if it was taken by a time traveler. Sculpted by F. W. Pomeroy, Lady Justice hangs nearly 200 ft above the road, which allows it to have an awe inspiring effect on its viewers.
Standing atop Old Bailey, the statue was added in 1907 after a massive fire made renovations a necessity. One of the most interesting things about this version of Lady Justice is that she’s not blindfolded like her statued counterparts across the world. It seems in England that justice isn’t blind.
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, 'The Master of Suspense', date unknown
During his time in the director’s chair Alfred Hitchcock directed dozens of films, beginning in the 1920s with the lost film Number 13. However, it’s for his latter films for which he’s remembered. Whether you prefer Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, or Psycho, he’s made films that invade the viewers mind create an unease like any other director of the era.
Hitchcock’s obsessions were characters who were accused of crimes that they didn’t commit and the self destruction of good people who get into cahoots with the wrong people. He rarely stopped working, and at the time of his death he was working on a script called The Short Night. Unfortunately he passed away from kidney failure on April 29, 1980 in Bel Aire before finishing the film.
Amelia Earhart poses in the cockpit of her plane, 1930s
While we mostly think of Amelia Earhart as a cautionary tale, she was was much important than that. As only the 16th woman to receive a pilot’s license, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928 and the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. She was an adventurer at heart, and never stopped reaching for greatness until she disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator in 1937.
Researchers believe that Earhart’s final mission was snakebite from the start. It’s likely thatcher plan wasn’t fueled properly and that she ran out of fuel 35 to 100 miles off the coast of Howland Island.
Colorized photo of The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany in 1960. (From L-R) John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney, and Stuart Sutcliffe.
Before they were the Fab Four, The Beatles were the Fab Five. Well, they were’t exactly fab yet but there was definitely five of them. Rather than kick around industrial Liverpool the group decided to accept gigs in Germany where they performed continuously, working on their sound and attempting to figure out their roles in the group.
Initially the band included drummer Pete Best and drummer Stuart Sutcliffe, but when Sutcliffe took off to work on his painting guitarist Paul McCartney took over bass playing duties much to his chagrin. Best stayed in the band until the group auditioned for George Martin at EMI Studios in Abbey Road, London. Martin decided that the group was aces except for their drummer. He told the lads from Liverpool that they needed someone who could actually keep time. Paul McCartney wrote:
George took us to one side and said, 'I'm really unhappy with the drummer. Would you consider changing him?' We said, 'No, we can't!' It was one of those terrible things you go through as kids. Can we betray him? No. But our career was on the line. Maybe they were going to cancel our contract.
It was a big issue at the time, how we 'dumped' Pete. And I do feel sorry for him, because of what he could have been on to; but as far as we were concerned, it was strictly a professional decision. If he wasn't up to the mark – slightly in our eyes, and definitely in the producer's eyes – then there was no choice. But it was still very difficult. It is one of the most difficult things we ever had to do.
Charles Lindbergh in the open cockpit of the airplane at Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri in 1923.
When the name Lindbergh comes up most people think of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, an awful blight history, but nearly a decade Charles Lindbergh’s child was kidnaped he was prepping for his first solo flight in 1923. After making that flight he worked as a daredevil pilot, performing at fairs around the country. He also flew for the U.S. Army in 1924 and trained as an Army Air Service Reserve pilot. Four years after this photo was taken Lindbergh became the first pilot to make the flight from New York to Paris without making any stops. The trip constituted more than 3,600 miles, and upon arriving he was greeted by more than 100,000 people.