Vintage Photos Expose The Unexpected
Paul McCartney 1976
Vintage photos have a special power to captivate us, reminding us of a time when things were simpler and life moved at a different pace. This captivating gallery is a nostalgic journey through history, featuring rare and stunning photographs that transport us back to the most magical decades of the past. Each photo tells its own story, capturing moments in time that evoke feelings of nostalgia and longing for a simpler era.
After the Beatles called it quits in 1970, Paul McCartney retreated to his farm in Scotland with his young family. At the time, he and his wife Linda had only been married for less than a year and here he was depressed and drinking while brooding about the lack of possibilities in his life following the breakup of his band.
Linda was raising their young child, Mary, while helping Paul get his confidence back as he slowly started working on new music. He ended up recording what became "McCartney" in secrecy on a Studer four-track tape recorder at his house in St. John's Wood.
The biggest song on the album is "Maybe I'm Amazed," an ode to Linda, the woman who helped him get back on his feet.
Lovely Jamie Lee Curtis -- Late 1970s
After fresh faced Jamie Lee Curtis took the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween she had no idea why people would want to watch such a stressful movie. After all, why would audiences want to freak themselves out?
Curtis says that she didn't really get it until she saw the movie with an audience full of people who were completely invested in Laurie's survival. She told the New York Times:
I remember going to see it in Hollywood, and in the middle of the movie, when Laurie is walking across the street to the house where P.J. Soles’s character has just been strangled, this woman stood up and screamed, 'Don’t go in there!' In that second, I understood exactly what John intended. The audience cared about Laurie.
This just shows the power of seeing a movie like Halloween with a large group of people, it absolutely beats watching a movie alone at home.
Alexandra Bastedo, a British actress, in the series "The Champions"
These vintage photographs feature iconic figures from the past, people we've only ever read about in history books or seen in movies. They'll take you back to the 60s, when anything seemed possible and life was less hectic. Take a closer look at each photo and spend some time enjoying these nostalgic moments in history.
One such icon featured in this collection is Alexandra Bastedo, star of the cult British show, The Champions. Though her career spanned several decades, she may be best remembered as an animal rights activist. Bastedo was the founder of the Alexandra Bastedo Champions (ABC) Animal Sanctuary, where she dedicated her time to helping animals live a life free from harm. Sadly, she passed away in 2014 at the age of 67.
Join us on this nostalgic journey and dive into the beauty of these vintage photographs.
One of Sharon Tate's favorite photos of herself
Sharon Tate had everything stretching out in front of her. She was the star of films like Valley of the Dolls, a marriage to a successful director, and a house in the hills. But in August 1969 her dream turned into a nightmare when members of the Manson family barged into her home to kill her and her friends in order to send a message to a Hollywood producer.
The world was shaken by Tate's death, but no one more than her family. Sharon's sister Debra, who was only 16 at the time, told People about the moment that her parents broke the news to her about the death of her sister:
My boyfriend at the time called to say he had heard on the radio that there was a fire at a house in Benedict Canyon and that one of the victims was Sharon Tate. My mom flung open the shower door and said, ‘Sharon’s dead.’ She was crying and wailing and shaking and her knees buckled and I remember the horror that comes with watching my little sister’s world crumble. It’s very horrifying when your parents fall out from beneath you.
The infamous singing duo, Sonny and Cher in 1965
We think of Sonny and Cher as the couple that went to stardom as a singing duo, but that's not how it all started. They went from America's sweethearts to bitter rivals, to celebrities who were uniquely successful from one another, without the ability to extract themselves from their past as a duo. Initially, heir relationship began as platonic. They met in 1963 when Cher was 16 and Sonny was 27 and formed an immediate friendship before moving in with one another in a small apartment.
Both Sonny and Cher say that their early relationship was devoid of sexual tension, and it was only later that they got together. In 1975, Cher explained:
It wasn’t a fiery, sexy thing with us, but rather paternal, like we were bound together, two people who needed each other, almost for protection.
At the time, Cher was singing backup on songs like "Be My Baby," while working on their double act "Caesar and Cleo." In 1965 they scored a hit with "I Got You Babe," but it wasn't until 1969 that the two tied the knot and made their relationship official.
Frank Zappa and his parents in 1970
We often think of Frank Zappa as the king weirdo of the psychedelic rock scene, but as much as his music is characterized with a playful nature that verges on being ascorbic, he was much more a family man than people know. This photo shows him spending some family time with his parents, who were nothing like their son.
Zappa's father worked for the Department of Defense, so they moved around the country for years until they settled in California when Zappa was 15 years old. He had trouble forming friendships and never performed all that well in school but he was gifted with music and had a penchant for making chemicals explode. The same part of him that enjoyed creating science experiments had fun raising his own kids. His son, Ahmet, told the Guardian:
I think what my father appreciated was the science experiment of life. He had these kids, and they had their own experiences. He wanted us to discover the world for ourselves. My parents told us how they felt but never imposed their beliefs on us, although I appreciate I got a healthy sense of democracy from them. When it came to discipline my dad never spanked us. If he said to you, 'You're acting like a jerk,' that was the worst thing ever.
Valley of the Dolls -- Sharon Tate -- 1967
1967's Valley of the Dolls has been described as a "dirty soap opera capable of the most offensive and appalling vulgarity ever thrown up by any civilization," but it's also a whole lot of campy fun.
Most well know for starring Sharon Tate as Linda, a hairspray lacquered beauty who steals every scene with plenty of cleavage and cheekbones that look like they're sculpted out of marble. But she's not the only star in the film. Patty Duke ad Barbara Perkins fill out the rest of the film as Neely and Anne, the film has become iconic for its representation of '60s fashion.
The film follows the three women as they become addicted to pills while in the entertainment industry, and unfortunately its kitschy delights were overshadowed by Tate's murder just two years later at the hands of Charles Manson's followers. At the time of her death, she was eight and a half months pregnant. She had just gotten married a year before to her director, Roman Polanski.
Judy Landers on the Johnny Carson Show - 1974
Judy Landers was a mainstay on television throughout the '70s and '80s, appearing on everything from Happy Days to Charlie's Angeles and, of course, The Love Boat. Beloved for her bubbly personality and her gorgeous looks, Landers knew how to turn whatever show she was on into a party - that's why she was such a great get for variety shows and late night TV like The Tonight Show.
After numerous appearances on The Tonight Show she admitted that she had a crush on Johnny Carson. This 1974 appearance is famous for the unflappable Carson getting totally flustered and responding, "When did the crush leave you?"
Today, Landers is living the life of a house wife with her husband former Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Niedenfuer and her two children. She produces family films and television with her sister, Ruth.
Comedian Steve Martin looking pretty groovy in 1969
This may look like a wild and wooly stranger, but you're not looking at some banjo carrying desperado, this wild and crazy guy is Steve Martin, one of the greatest entertainers of all time. He's been making people laugh for years, first with his stand up and later in films like The Jerk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but before he hit it big he was just another west coast folky.
From an early age, Steve Martin was a performer. He had his eyes set on the big time, and in order to hone his skills he took jobs performing at Disney Land and Knotts Berry Farm in various comedy troupes. He says that this kind of west coast upbringing made him who he is:
I was very happy with where I grew up. I really loved it, the beach, being near Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. I was able to become a performer there. It was all part of my young, youthful history. I started working at Disneyland when I was 10. I got to dress up and go into this amusement park that was well kept.
Farrah Fawcett was the '70s golden girl!
It's impossible to think about the 1970s with our thinking of Fawcett in her red one piece, smiling out at us from her poster with that million dollar smile. Even if she never did anything after that poster, she'd still be the golden sun of one of the greatest decades of the 20th century.
Farrah Fawcett turned her sun-soaked California good looks into a career with starring roles on Charlie's Angels and The Burning Bed, a role that one her serious acclaim. However, Fawcett left Charlie's Angels after a single season, forever cementing herself as the star of jiggle TV that got out early and continued to reign supreme.
She was a meteoric talent, someone who took a few short years and turned that into the rest of her career. It's a talent that so few stars have.
New York "Cabbie" -- Robert De Niro's taxicab driver's license, 1976
Before he was the star of Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro was actually a taxi driver. He took the role after starring in Mean Streets, so it's not like he was hurting for cash and had to take up a job, at the time, De Niro liked to go method.
To get into the head of a Vietnam veteran who was trolling the streets of New York City and dreaming of cleaning up the city through a wave of violence De Niro picked up fairs and studied his riders for 12 hour shifts for a month straight.
De Niro says that while he was prepping for the gig he was only recognized one time, and it was by a fellow actor. According to Andrew J. Rausch, the author of The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, the actor exclaimed, "Well that’s acting. One year, the Oscar [for The Godfather Part II] – the next, you’re driving a cab!”
A buff Charles Bronson and his beautiful wife, Jill Ireland -- 1971
Pictured here with his second wife, Jill Ireland, Charles Bronson was a serious man's man. His early life was wracked with poverty. He grew up in coal country and was so broke that he often had to wear his sister's clothing to school. This not only instilled in him a sense that he needed to work, but it made him tough.
His early acting career was somewhat fruitless, with his big break coming when he was 39 years old and received a role in The Magnificent Seven. Eight years later, Bronson married Jill Ireland and formed one of the most lasting relationships in Hollywood. The couple co-starred in a series of films together, and often drove to the location with their children to make sure that the family stayed together.
When not on set the couple disappeared to Vermont where Ireland raised horses and trained their daughter, Zuleika, to follow in her footsteps.
A brunette version of Brigitte Bardot from the 1960s
Fans of Brigitte Bardot know that it's rare to see her as a brunette. Even though she was born with brown hair, in 1956 she bleached it for an Italian film and never went back. She may sounds like a fashion plate, but in actuality she never set out to change the fashion industry.
Bardot often wore her own clothing in movies, and she didn't know much about makeup, but her naturally good looks and charisma won over audiences and created trends regardless of how little work she actually put into looking good. According to Bardot there's one secret to her style:
The Bardot style is simply my own style; in other words, it’s not a style at all. I dressed in the same way as I did my hair: depending on what took my fancy, and what I felt like at that moment.I wore elegant gowns designed by the top couturiers as well as gorgeous gypsy outfits that were unconventional, things I came across by accident and then became fashionable!It makes me laugh! In any case, it was prettier and sexier than what we see these days.I’m proud I created a style that doesn’t go out of fashion—because I was never fashionable!
Batgirl -- Yvonne Joyce Craig -- 1967
Much of Yvonne Craig's early life was filled with rehearsals for what she felt was her true calling, ballet. She studied with ballerina and instructor Alexandra Danilova before becoming a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as its youngest member. However, when she moved to Los Angeles to further her dancing career she found herself drawn to acting.
Craig had that charmed kind of career where she was cast easily, mostly as ingenues on TV shows throughout the '50s and '60s, but it's her role as Batgirl that she'll always be remembered for. While speaking with Closer, Craig explained that when she was offered the role she didn't really know what Batman was, but that did't stop her from studying until she figured it out:
[The producers] called me and said they were thinking of adding a girl to Batman. I had never seen the show, even though everyone was crazy about it. Even when I was shooting Batman, I had a black and white TV. I’m a book reader and not much of a TV watcher, so I just didn’t pay attention. The producer, William Dozier, said, ‘I’m sure you’ve seen our show,’ and I said, ‘Actually, I haven’t, but if I get the part I’ll spend the summer watching re-runs so I know how I’ll fit into the scheme of things.’
Elvis Presley and "soul-mate?" Ann-Margret - 'Viva Las Vegas', 1964
After starring in three films together it makes sense that Elvis and Ann-Margret developed some serious chemistry, but he was with Priscilla at the time and didn't want to break things off. Even though he was in a seemingly star-crossed relationship with his young bride, from the moment he set eyes on Ann on the set of Viva Las Vegas they were seriously into each other.
Throughout the filming of Viva Las Vegas, Elvis and Ann grew closer and closer and became more attracted to one another, at the time they felt like soul mates. Even longtime friend and bodyguard of Presley said that when the two were together they were like a "house fire."
That being said, The King decided to be a man of his word and broke things off with his co-star, breaking his and her heart in the process.
Alyssa Milano as 'Samantha Micelli' on the classic '80s sitcom, "Who's the Boss?"
Audiences first noticed Alyssa Milano when she played Samantha on Who's The Boss? opposite Tony Danza. As huge as this was for her young career, it played a part in one of the most mortifying moments of her life. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly Milano explained that after the airing of the season one episode where she has to buy a bra people on the streets stopped her repeatedly to bring it up. She said:
This was at a time that we could only say ‘bra’ once. We could only say it once, and then we had to come up with different things... I’d walk down the street and get recognized. People would be like, ‘That bra episode! You’re getting older, you’re growing up!’ It was so mortifying.
The M*A*S*H clan -- Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson -- 1972
The TV series, M*A*S*H, found comedy in the struggle of the Korean War for 11 years between 1972 and 1983. Set at an military hospital base and starring a team of doctors who tended to the wounded while cracking wise and cutting each other up, the series was able to make light of war while addressing serious issues, it's a tight rope walk but they managed to do it.
Mike Farrell who played B.J. Hunnicutt on the series, says that he really knew that the show as connecting with people after particular episode that turned him from character actor to someone who was mobbed on the street, albeit in a polite way:
The episode that really affected me was the one where Gen. MacArthur comes to camp. Everyone's getting ready to prepare for his arrival and they're trying to hide me. MacArthur drives by without paying any attention to anyone until he drives down the road and salutes me, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I was in Beverly Hills the next day, walking down the street and bus drivers and cab drivers were honking horns at me and people were waving at me in the street. That was from one stupid image of Klinger. I realized we're not just working on this little soundstage. This thing goes all over the world and people are actually watching us.
Fun-filled movie "Beach Party" (1960s) with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon
For a few brief years the beach movie was one of the most beloved genre of films for teenagers giddy on their chance to get out of the house and go to the theater all by themselves - and it all started with Beach Party.
Produced by Roger Corman's American Pictures International, Beach Party started a series of seven pictures based around teens getting into trouble and usually soling some kind of mystery on the beach. Corman's films were cheap and operated on shoestring budgets to ensure that the company made a profit. While discussing the intense shooting of this movie, Frankie Avalon notes that he just had to tear through it as quickly as possible. He said:
We were constantly filming. We were doing 28 setups a day. I would say to Bill Asher... 'I don't think my character Frankie would say this.' And he'd say, 'What are you talking about? Just say the line. Let's have fun with it.
One night in 1989 -- What's the scoop? Christina Applegate and Brad Pitt at the MTV Movie Awards
Was anyone ever as young as Christina Applegate and Brad Pitt at the 1989 VMAs? As cute as this couple is they were apparently not so hot for each other. While Pitt is super duper hot, Applegate ditched him during the festivities for another guy, leaving Pitt to go stag for the rest of the show.
Applegate has admitted that she ditched Pitt in the middle of their date, but she's never said who she left him for, preferring to stay tight lipped about what had to be a pretty embarrassing moment for young actor. However, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row claims that he's the guy Applegate hooked up with at the VMAs. He alleges:
She was interviewed recently on, like, Entertainment Tonight, or something, and they said, 'What was the dumbest thing you ever did?' And she goes, 'One night I ditched Brad Pitt for this other dude.' And that dude would be me. So there was a time on this earth when Sebastian Bach was, like, a hotter lay than Brad Pitt.
Hot couple -- Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley in 1983
If there's any proof to the age old adage that musicians get chicks regardless of how attractive they are it's the marriage of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley. We're not trying to body shame Billy Joel or anything, its just that these two look like they're from completely different planets.
Joel and Brinkley were married for a little over a decade, but finally called it quits in 1995. Even though their marriage ended their friendship remained intact, and Brinkley says that the two have been known to sing Christmas carols together over the holidays. She told People:
Many years after our divorce, Billy would still come to my house for the Christmas singalong and play the piano, and all our friends would come over and sing Christmas carols. Singalongs are one of my favorite things to do. And you know that’s what makes everybody happy.
Bruce Springsteen in a phone booth, East Camden, NJ, 1978
In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was on one of the most important tours of his life. From May 1978 to January 1, 1979, Springsteen played 115 shows and hit major markets, college towns, and everywhere in between to preach the gospel of The Boss.
Seeing a Springsteen show today is like going to a marathon. There are multiple sets, entire albums are played, and the audience leaves after picking themselves up off the floor. In '78, Springsteen's sets hadn't quite reached that length, but they were intense. Many critics at the time described these shows as religious experiences, with Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn writing:
I realized the faith I was beginning to put in Springsteen the December day in 1978 that I drove 400 miles to Tucson, Arizona, to see him in concert [for personal reasons, not as a professional assignment]. The show was part of a short western swing near the end of the Darkness tour that skipped Los Angeles.... [a] swell of emotion came to me during Bruce's concert in Tucson ... seeing Springsteen push himself so hard on stage and listening to the eloquence of his songs made me forget about doubts and think about my own dreams again.
Chaka Khan in the 1970s
Chaka Kahn found success singing with the band Rufus in 1972, but the singer and straight up icon was making a living with music before she was a Grammy winning artist. Not a person to give anyone or anything credit for her success but herself, Kahn says that she's more inspired by the things in life that try to hold her down rather than stories about lovers.
When asked about her inspiration by Interview Magazine she was quick to lay out how growing up in Chicago shaped her and showed her what she didn't want to do:
My mother was into opera and my father was into jazz, so there was a lot of jazz in the house where I grew up. I was born and raised in the University of Chicago area and had an uneventful middle-class Catholic childhood. I had a heavy Catholic upbringing and Catholicism is terrible—it’s the reason there were slaves. Mass every morning at seven o’clock during Lent... It was a great relief when I finally realized what I was into and got out of it, and although it may have helped make me the strong person that I am, I hate to give it credit for anything in my life. It’s a totally negative, man-made religion. Anyhow, I also hated school so I quit when I was 16 and joined a group so I could make some money.
Claudia Cardinale, a beautiful Italian actress of the 1960s and 1970s
While it's easy to categorize Claudia Cardinale as an Italian bombshell, her early life shows that's not really the case. Even though both of her parents of Italian, she was born and raised in Tunisia, a French protectorate. Even though she had a heavy French accent, you won't hear that or her husky voice in her earliest work. Her voice was dubbed over in those early films.
It wasn't until her role in Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 that audiences heard her real voice. In a conversation with the LA Times Cardinale explained that she and Fellini were good friends and often decided about what would happen in the film based on their rides to the set each day.
Cardinale still works quite a bit in France and Switzerland, and says that she prefers to work with young directors who are just making their first films.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978) -- Clint Eastwood and his "sweet" pet orangutan, Clyde
Famous for playing disgruntled detectives, quite cowboys, and moody old men, it might surprise you that Clint Eastwood's biggest box office draw (in which he appears but doesn't direct) is the buddy film Every Which Way But Loose.
In 1978, it was a huge risk for Eastwood to star in a comedy. He was known for his serious roles in westerns and dramas, and not necessarily for his comedy acumen, but when he was given the script with the hopes that he would pass it on to his buddy Burt Reynolds he jumped at the chance to co-star in a film with an orangutan.
It's not clear why Eastwood wanted to get into hijinks with a primate, but the gamble paid off handsomely for the actor and it managed to humanize him after a series of films that made him feel like a distant loner.
The Infamous Dale Earnhardt Sr and his 1976 (one-race-only) #30 car
Hands down, no questions asked, Dale Earnhardt Sr. is the most important driver in NASCAR history. His racing career began in 1975 when he was only 24 years old. He quickly earned the nickname "The Intimidator" thanks to a string of seven Winston Cup Championships. His aggressive driving style coupled with his controversial moves on the track made him one of the most fearsome competitors of any era.
Earnhardt bumped cars, he passed like it was going out of style, and he didn't let anyone mess with him on or off the track. His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says that while he was intimidating, he wasn't a bad guy, he was just someone you wanted to please.
You wanted to please him all the time, make him happy and you wanted to, whatever you did, you wanted it to somehow get a response from him.
Danny, Sandy and Kenickie on the set of "Grease" 1978
In 1978, Grease was the word on everyone's lips. The film achieved something that few musicals can do, it was an immediate hit that surpassed what anyone thinks of a musical adaptation and it was - and remains - everywhere.
Sure, the film stars straight up adults playing teenagers, and its '50s iconography is a little stodgy for the 1970s, but something about this movie just works. It's inherently watchable and so so fun. When the film premiered it was pandemonium, both with fans and the stars. Olivia Newton-John said of the film's coming out party:
I just remember it was crazy. There were lots of people in the bathrooms doing strange things that I hadn’t seen before. It was wild and fun and a very exciting night.
Bewitching Elizabeth Montgomery in the '60s
Elizabeth Montgomery may look as cool as a cucumber in this photo, but she admits that before her first big break she nearly had a panic attack. In 1952 she beat out a series of actresses to play her father's daughter on his series Robert Montgomery Presents, something that must have been a breeze, but she says that before the cameras started rolling she nearly ran from the studio screaming:
Everyone was on pins and needles as the hour for the show approached. Dad called me into his dressing room for an old-fashioned, last-minute pep talk. I assured him everything was under control so far as I was concerned. I don’t know whether he could tell that I was shaking all over. But when the cameras came alive for the show, I had no trouble concentrating on my part and the program went off without a hitch.
Elvis posing with Joanne Wilson, a polio child for March of Dimes - 1950s
We all remember Elvis as a hunk of burning love, but he was more than just a pretty face with a voice from the heavens, he was an ardent supporter of vaccinations. In 1954, the New York City Department of Health launched a huge campaign to promote vaccination against polio.
In order to get people on board with Jonas Salk's polio vaccination Elvis Presley agreed to appear in a photo opportunity in a quick snapshot taken before an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The photo shows the New York City Commissioner of Health holding Elvis' arm as Assistant Commissioner Harold Fuerst administers the polio vaccine. By 1963 - less than ten years later - the number of polio cases in the area was zilch, goose egg, zero, and for that we can thank The King.
Extremely groovy color photo of Jim Morrison onstage in 1968
When Jim Morrison took the stage with The Doors it was like bringing the audience to a spiritual awakening. He flailed and howled in a drunk, drugged out haze in order to coax his followers into a spiritual reverie, but that didn't always work he way he wanted it to.
In his early years, Morrison was hypnotic. His performances lulled the audience into a trance. He brought his fans through heaven and hell in order to reach musical rapture, but a few years into the band's success he lost himself in the both. His performances went from chaotic to disastrous.
This shot shows Morrison early in his career when he was still the lizard king, Mr. Mojo Rising. Little did he know that he was only a few years away from dethroning himself.
Gloria Paul -- accomplished dancer, actress and singer in England in the late '60s and '70s
Just by looking at this photo it may seem like Gloria Paul has everything. This English beauty began her career as a ballet dancer before quitting her professional dance company to try her hand at acting. Her bet paid off and she quickly found herself in films like Goldfinger and For a Few Dollars More before transitioning to television where she appeared in the Benny Hill Show.
Paul continued acting in England until the '90s when she suffered a freak accident. While she was taking a shower in her home, the water heater fell through the ceiling and landed directly on her. She was paralyzed from the waist down. This accident ended her career and forced to her to retire completely. In a recent interview Paul said that she's lucky to have friends who've stuck by her side even now that she's not on screen:
After the accident I discovered that people truly wished me well and I’ve been very lucky in my choice of friends. As the saying goes: 'You discover who your true friends are in bad times,' and at bad times, they were always at my side. I had a good nose for friends, and when I need them they’re there. With my job, you know a thousand people, but in life one must be selective. You shouldn’t judge people too quickly, it takes time.
Action-packed movie, Bullitt (1969), with Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset
Bullitt is more than just a car movie, it's an action movie that changed Hollywood forever, paving the way for movies to be shot on location. Most well known for its car case, the film was innovative and exciting, taking audiences on a ride that they didn't expect.
At the forefront of this film was Steve McQueen, already a huge star and someone that put butts in seats. With Bullitt, he went from star to something else completely. Co-star Jacqueline Bissett noted that he was great to be on set with, and nothing like the star people believed him to be. She explained:
Steve was a major star at the time but very patient with me and we would go out for meals with the director and producer when we’d break for lunch... Watching those cars jumping in the air on the streets of San Francisco was amazing. There were also some scenes where I had to drive Steve around in a yellow convertible and remember thinking God almighty, I don’t want to mess this up with a race car driver next to me!
Blonde Bombshell, Jayne Mansfield in "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956 comedy)
The Girl Can't Help It may have been seen as just a vehicle for Jayne Mansfield, but when it was released in 1956 it had the unintended consequence of essentially bringing rock n roll to the world.
The film definitely made Mansfield a name, but the score was the star of the film. Featuring Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and Gene Vincent, when the movie came to the UK it inspired teenagers like John Lennon and Paul McCartney who began working in the rock n roll stylings of Cochran into their skiffle routines.
As far as Mansfield, she went on to star in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in 1957, which was easily the biggest film of her career.
Natalie Wood in Gypsy, 1962
In 1962, Natalie Wood was just beginning her rise to stardom. Sure, she was the child star in Rebel Without A Cause, but it's harder than you think to turn that kind of stardom into real deal success.
Wood spent the '60s showing that she was more than a teenage sweetheart for the likes of James Dean to fawn over by appearing in huge musicals as well as this offbeat film about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee Not only did Wood bare a lot of skin in this film, but she actually used her own voice rather than have it dubbed like in West Side Story.
The critical response to the film was a little sad, but they loved Wood (how can you not?) even if she didn't show as much skin as they wanted.
Olivia Newton-John as 'Sandy' in "Grease" (1978)
Everyone loves Grease. Today there are sing alongs, rooftop parties, and thousands of people still dress up like the T-Birds and Pink Ladies during Halloween, but there's one part of the Pink Lady costume that many young women probably don't follow through on.
The film follows Olivia Newton-John as she changes from sweetheart Sandy to a hottie with her hair teased to the heavens and tight leather pants. It turns out to get into those pants took an entire production team. To get her into the super tight pants she had to be sewn in by the costume department.
That's bad enough, but she had to stay in the jeans for the entire shoot day because it was too much work to take them off and put them back on.
Hollywood's "Golden Couple" Paul Newman and wife, Joanne Woodward in 1965
One of Hollywood’s most enduring marriages began on January 29, 1958, when Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward wed in Las Vegas, Nevada. The actors met in New York City while performing in the Broadway production of Picnic, a romantic drama. Following the success of the play both Newman and Woodward moved to Los Angeles where they both became contract players.
Following their marriage in 1958 the couple traveled to London where they honeymooned at the Connaught Hotel. Woodward essentially dropped out of the entertainment industry to be Newman's wife, but in 1968 she starred in Rachel, Rachel, Newman's directorial debut.
Woodward received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, one of four total nominations that the film received. Newman told the press that he directed the movie for her after she gave up her career for him.
Karate lesson? Ron Howard (Richie) and Pat Morita (Arnold) -- "Happy Days" (1974)
When Happy Days premiered in 1974 no one thought it would be the juggernaut that it became. What started as a series about a large group of friends became overshadowed by Henry Winkler's portrayal of Fonzie, something that the network attempted to capitalize on by changing the name of the show. Speaking about the proposed change, Ron Howard noted that there was no way he would have let that happen:
They did come to me and said, 'Well the network would kind of like to change the name of the show to Fonzie's Happy Days.' And I said, 'Well, I don't think I wanna be in that show. I wanna be in 'Happy Days' and I think Henry should have, you know, every opportunity to do everything — that's fantastic — but you know, I signed on for this other thing and I just really don't wanna do that. I think I'd go back to film school.'
Howard continued, saying that when Gary Marshall heard about what happened he personally made sure there was no name change and that Ron Howard stayed on the show.
Elvis Presley and wife, Priscilla, flying off together (late 1960s)
In 1967, A 32 year old Elvis Presley married his 21 year old bride, Priscilla after an on and off courting session that began when he was stationed in Germany and she was a teenager. The King is said to have "trained" Priscilla to look and act how he wanted, all the while carrying on affairs with other women, and turning a blind eye to his young wife's extra marital relationships.
Five years after marrying, the couple filed for divorce after deciding that they just weren't happy together. On the day the judge granted their petition the couple walked hand in hand out of the courthouse, still friends after calling things quits. In 2016, Priscilla explained why she still felt that Elvis was the love of her life:
I needed to find out what the world was like, really, it was one world. But the greatest thing about our relationship was that we still loved each other.
"Dreamland" -- Sophia Loren on a visit to Disneyland in 1963
You can't just be any old star to get special treatment at Disneyland. Even in 1962, Disney and their theme park were doing well enough to tell actors like Vincent Price to kick rocks if he wanted to get in for free, but not Sophia Loren.
One day after she won an Oscar for Two Women in 1962, she asked to visit Disneyland and the park relented. She spent the day in the park with her personal attendant going on the rides and checking out the attractions with a trail of photographers following her.
According to one worker that day, she was accompanied by her husband Carlo Ponti, an Italian film producer, and rode as many rides as she could, entering through the exit like royalty.
The beautiful Ann-Margret rocked the 1960s!
Ann-Margret was the Swedish queen of 1960s American cinema. Not just a blonde bombshell, she sang, danced, and acted - often alongside Elvis. She was one of the few gals who could hold her own against The King.
She wasn't just a pretty face, after requests poured in for her to visit Vietnam, she hopped in a plane with Bob Hope and brought the wildest dreams of the soldiers fighting far from home to life. However, she notes that she didn't exactly receive the greeting that she thought she would:
I received sheets of paper that had 3,000 signatures of our guys wanting me to come over there. I went in 1966. It was just Johnny Rivers and the bassist and drummer and me. We went everywhere. And then in ’68 it was the Bob Hope Christmas show, and there were 85 people. So it was different feeling.
The glamorous Elizabeth Taylor, 1956
We don't often think of Elizabeth Taylor as a "method" performer. Sure, we know about her marriages and her work as Cleopatra, but it's hard to think of her digging deep into a character. However, that's exactly what she did on some of her biggest films, although it wasn't always easy to get out of the role.
She notes that while filming Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with her then-husband Richard Burton the couple had to work out a system of getting out of character so they could make sure they had a pleasant evening at home rather than continuing to tear each other's heads off:
We’d get it all out on the set and when we got home it was like taking off and overcoat and leaving it at the studio. We’d learn our lines in the car on the way home. Fortunately, we were both very quick studies. Then when we got home we had shed George and Martha and we had the kids. We had dinner with the kids every night and we played games with them, word games that we invented, and we’d become totally involved in the family. We became Richard and Elizabeth and it worked. We became a untied family and forgot all about the two [characters] who wanted to kill each other. And we survived.
Ava Gardner, 1937
During the Golden Age of Hollywood, Ava Gardner became one of the most beloved actresses of the bigscreen thanks to her work with John Huston in films like Mogambo and The Night of the Iguana. Long before she moved to Hollywood to begin her life as a glittering star she was just the daughter of sharecroppers from North Carolina. This photo was taken one year after her father passed away, one of the hardest times of her life.
Gardner studied to be a secratary after graduating high school, but after her portrait was displayed in the window of a family friend's photography studio in New York City she became the talk of the town. In 1941, one year after she started secretarial school she was offered a contract by MGM even though Louis B. Mayer didn't know if they would make a dime off of her. he famously said to Al Altma, the head of MGM's New York talent department, "She can't sing, she can't act, she can't talk, she's terrific!"
Laura Ingells Wilder and her pioneer family
When Laura Ingalls Wilder released her first book in the Little House series, Little House in the Big Woods, she found almost immediate success. The series grew to eight books that followed the same family through peace and hardships out on the prairie. Even with the success of her fictional stories Wilder hoped that people would love her non-fiction just as much.
Autobiographer Pamela Smith Hill told BookPage that Wilder's early nonfiction writing served as rough practice for her later, successful fiction:
Pioneer Girl was Wilder’s first attempt at writing a long-form narrative, and she hadn’t yet broken free from the constraints of writing short, concise, but descriptive newspaper columns. This is especially true in the first third of Pioneer Girl, where many episodes are roughly the length of a newspaper column. As I point out in the annotated edition, words are a luxury for a newspaper columnist and Wilder had learned to use them sparingly. But as she gained confidence in writing a longer narrative, she added more details and lingered over key episodes in her family’s life—the grasshopper plague, for example, and the Hard Winter of 1880-1881.
San Antonio Market, Barcelona, 1955
Taken by Ramón Masats, a Spanish photographer who showed the realities of poverty in his home country, this photo shows the realities of life in Spain at the end of the Franco regime. His work shows the way that povery struck everyone in the country without care of who they are and what they did. Masats sought to tell the real story of Spain through his photography.
An exhibition of Masats' work at PhotoEspana explains just how he was able to take such uninhibited photographs:
Masats worked on assignments for Mundo Hispánico, Gaceta Ilustrada and the new Ministry of Information and Tourism. He poured all his photographic intensity into investigating what he called his homeland’s cultural cliches, such as popular rites and festivals, religious or folkloric. It was a different way of telling a story.
Model wearing Mainbocher dress at the Eiffel Tower
This model clearly took the phrase "high fashion" literally. Taken for Harper's Bazarre in 1939, this photo showcases a dress by the Mainbocher label in daredevil fashion. After all, if you want someone to notice your art you've got to get it out there in the most outrageous way possible.
This daring photo was taken in the days before Photoshop and digital tomfoolery. That means that the photogrpaher had to schlep their equipment up the tower along with a model in an incredibly expensive gown, take multiple shots and hope that one of them worked out so they didn't have to make the trek again. The things we do for fashion.
Class portrait in front of a one room school house made of fronds, 1890
In the late 19th century the one-room school was one of the only ways for a young person in a rural era to learn. These single room buildings were used for more than just eductation. Regardless of whether they were constructed of fronds or standard wooden beams they were a gathering place for children, community church services, and even parties.
More than just the place where children receivedd their all important education, these one-room schools were where young people learned to be social. As long as the weather was fair young people traveled from miles away to see their friends and hopefully learn something. An average class could have students as young as six-years-old and as old as someone in their teens.
Clint Eastwood carves some major grindage on an early skateboard
Clint Eastwood has always been cool, but there's something about seeing him riding a skateboard through the streets of Rome in the 1960s that makes him even cooler. Taken by Elio Sorci, this shot of Eastwood shows him in a completely new light. Which is exactly what Sorci wanted to do with his work, change the viewer's perception of the subject.
it's not totally clear where the skateboard came from in this photo, whether it belonged to Eastwood, Sorci, or if one of them just picked it up. Wherever it came from isn't the point. It's that Eastwood is riding it like a boss. This single shot reminds viewers that he's more than just the stoic man from nowhere who starred in some of the most beloved westerns of all time.
College students in their dorm room at the University of Illinois, circa 1910 🤓🤓
It's fascinating to see that even in 1910 college students were decorating their dorms with posters, photos, and little knick-knacks that reminded them of their friends. At the turn of the century many colleges were still isolated from major cities and students had to find a place to stay, be it a boarding house or with a relative. For many, on campus dormatories just made sense.
Harvard University initially created dorms that were just one building full of "sleeping rooms" situated directly next to the school. The governing board thought the proximity would give students "an advantage to Learning" due to "the multitude of persons cohabiting for scholasticall communion” away from civilization would help make America’s first real group of Puritan ministers. Things didn't exactly work how they intended.
Turn of the century cat lady sits with her beloved pets 🐱🐱🐱
At the turn of the century photography technology was accurate enough so subjects didn't have to sit forever to wait for one photo to be taken. It's not as if photos took an hour to be snapped, but the process could take minutes and no one wants to hold their pet still for that long. This shot definitely took some wrangling, but it came out pretty well.
A World War II era "Animal Ambulance" brings a dog in for treatment
During World War II everyone had a job to do, whether it was making sure that the trains ran on time, fighting on the front lines, or taking care of pets. These workers with the National Air Raid Precautions Animal Committee can be seen bringing an airdale to an animal hospital on October 7, 1940. The doggo seems fine in this picture, and it's likely just freaked out after a bombing.
The discovery of an ancient Maya statue deep within the jungles of Honduras, 1885
Modern researchers and historians have long been infatuated with the Mayan culture and its people. Long before European settlers were traipsing across the Americas, the Maya were constructing massive pieces of architecture, putting together a dense written language, and even studying the stars. It's no wonder that we're still fascinated by these mysterious people.
At the tail end of the 19th century explorers were discovering Mayan artifacts left and right on journies through Central America. Alfred Maudslay and Teoberto Maler were two of the leading researchers who traveled through Honduras to find pieces of this former civilization. It's through their work and the work of countless others that we now know about this astounding tribe.
Steve McQueen poses for the coolest mugshot ever ✌
Steve McQueen may have been one of the coolest guys of the 20th century and an ace driver, but that doesn't mean he wasn't pulled over by the police on multiple occassions. In 1972, McQueen was arrested for driving under the influence while in Anchorage, Alaska. Apparently he was speeding through the city in a rented Oldsmobile Toronado.
When McQueen was pulled over and asked to walk down the white line during his sobriety test he did a full somersault and was almost immediately arrested. McQueen didn't hold a grudge, in fact he signed autographs for everyone at the station while he was still in handcuffs. After posting bail he got the heck out town and was convicted for reckless driving in absentia.
100-year-old Nicholas Veeder poses in the uniform he wore when he served as a teenage soldier in the American Revolutionary War, 1860
Supposedly this photo was taken in 1860 and it shows Nicholas Veeder, one of the last surviving veterans of the American Revolutionary War. The story goes that Veeder joined the colonial army when he was only a teenager and survived to tell the tale. It's amazing that he was a part of one of the biggest moments in history and lived through so many more riveting stories.
Taken at the onset of the Civil War, it's hard to imagine that someone who was alive for America's fight for independence was still around to witness yet another battle for freedom. We don't know how long Veeder stuck around, but if was able to witness the end of the Civil War that would be amazing. The breadth of history may be long, it's amazing that Veeder was able to see so much of it.
A nun waters a group of children
There's something about being a child that makes every experience incredibly fun. Even hanging out on a deck somewhere in the city and get sprayed with a hose by a nun can be a magical time. Everything is so new and exciting that each experience comes with its own piece of joy.
Think about this photo from the nun's perspective. It's likely summer in the city, it's a hot day and there's no pool where these kids can cool off but they need to get some fresh air. She may be giving these kids the most low rent version of cooling off but it's the thought that counts. Clearly, these kids are having a great time.
An Ottoman-era photograph of two Armenian women dressed as Armenian fedayis or freedom fighters
Taken in 1895, this photo remains both mysterious and inspiring. Both of these women are dressed as freedom fighters and they're carrying weapons, but are they really preparing to war? According to researchers, a note on the back of the original photograph reads "souvenir," which could mean that this is a gag photo of some sort but it's hard to tell what's real and what's not without habing all of the information.
Judging from the weapons that both women are carrying, a rifle and a revolver, this photo was staged. The rifle isn't the same kind that was used by the Armenian military in the late 19th century and the revolver that the woman on the left has in her belt is HUGE. It's proportions are all wrong. As cool as this photo is, it's most likely something that was taken for fun.
Ryan White, face of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s
Ryan White became the poster child for the AIDS epidemic in 1984 when he was diagnosed with the illness following a lung biopsy. White was a hemophiliac and required regular blood transfusions. During one of those transfusions he was given tainted blood and doctors predicted that he only had six months to live.
White survived until he was 18-years-old. He used his final years to bring light to the AIDS epidemic, something that no one had been able to do up until this point, and he did what he could to raise money for research into the disease. Following his death in 1990, President Reagan told ther American people:
We owe it to Ryan to make sure that the fear and ignorance that chased him from his home and his school will be eliminated. We owe it to Ryan to open our hearts and our minds to those with AIDS. We owe it to Ryan to be compassionate, caring, and tolerant toward those with AIDS, their families, and friends. It's the disease that's frightening, not the people who have it.
Before there was radar... there was acoustic plane detection
During World War II no one had radar capabilities which made detecting enemy planes a major hassle. In order to get a jump on the Allied Forces, the Japanese military made use of passive acoustic location to literally hear planes when they were one their way. This tool was literally a group of horns that fed back to the listener, when they zeroed in on the source they knew were the planes were coming from.
These horns might looks ridiculous but they actually worked very well. The British had their own version of this tool that required sound mirrors to get to locate the position of an oncoming squadron. The military is far more high tech today, but it's amazing to see that they could do so much with so little.
Man at the Wheel Saloon, 1895
Loated in sunny San Pedro, California, just south of Los Angeles, the Man at the Wheel saloon once offered libations and good conversation all within a wild looking building. At the tail end of the 19th century American bars were still trying to capture the spirit of British pubs. Hence the funny name and statue on top of the building.
Saloons were big business in the 1890s, and San Pedro was a great place to have a business where you could sell some drinks and offer a place to sleep for the night. San Pedro is a port city, and if something is coming into California from the Pacific it's likely coming through this town. More often than not sailors would spend a night or two in the area before getting back on their ship for the long ride home.
Paul Hogan working as a rigger before he was Crocodile Dundee
In 1970, Paul Hogan was working as a rigger on the Sydney Harbor Bridge but one year later he was wowing audiences on Australia's New Faces before earning his own sketch comedy program. Hogan says that the change in his life was stark, but that it was incredibly hard for his children. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like to go from being a normal suburban family to wealthy over night.
Hogan later said that seeing how the change affected his children took a huge toll on him and he tried to keep their lives as normal as possible. He said:
It was hard for all my kids, thrust into a limelight that they didn't invite. So as much as we could, we left it at the gate.
A girl shows off her frog at the Venice Beach Pet Show, 1936
What do you expect to see at a pet show, regardless of where it's located? Dogs, cats, maybe even a horse or a goat, but a frog? That's definitely a surprise. However, in the 1930s it makes perfect sense that a girl would keep a frog as a pet. Money was tight and it made sense to keep something around that didn't need a lot of food.
America was still in the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s and families hardly had enough money to pay for their own meals let alone the meals of a dog or a cat. At this point in time girls and boys alike made pets out of frogs and snakes, or really anything that could just eat bugs or grass. The frog is definitely cute, but it's also economical.
Moulin Rouge dressing room, 1924
In the 1920s, the Moulin Rouge was up and running after it was destroyed by a fire in 1921. Three years later the Hoffman girls, an American dance troupe, did their best can can on the stage of this famous Parisian landmark. This colorized photo shows exactly what it was like to be in the backstage area of the club and boy it sure looks like a lot of fun.
It was also a lot of work to make a show at the Moulin Rouge go off without a hitch. There's choreography, costume changes, and scenery that needs to be put in place. Doing that today is hard, but making it happen in the 1920s took a lot of skill, patience, and luck. One dancer at Moulin Rouge explained:
The whole team including dancers, aides and technicians need to be very organized. A little mistake or a little delay and you can miss your entrance. You really need to be at the right time at the right place.
Buzzer the Cat poses with one of Arnold Genthe's many models 🐱📸
We're not sure who the woman in this picture is, but we do know the star of the show. Buzzer the Cat belonged to a German photographer named Arnold Genthe, the two made their home in New York City and it didn't takelong for Buzzer to start popping up in his person's photos. Using Buzzer may have been a way to relax his clients, or maybe they just wanted to hold a cuddly cat.
Genthe photographed many important people who came through New York City at the turn of the century including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Woodrow Wilson, and even Jack London. Every person that came through the studio met one of Genthe's four Buzzers and many of them posed with the relaxed feline. Genthe took astounding photos, but the real reason to visit the photographer was to meet his cat.
Johnny Cash models thigh high boots, 1971
Johnny Cash made a living off of being the Man in Black, and even though he's known for songs like "Ring of Fire," he inspired hits by his friends as well. When Cash was on tour with Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley in 1955, he told both of them a story about a soldier he served wtih while he was stationed in Germany who referred to his military issue kicks as "blue suede shoes." That's right. Johnny Cash inspired the title of one of the most beloved country songs ever.
Cash has always been the lynchpin of mid-century country so it's not a surprise that he was around to help his honkytonk bretheren. Did his shoe obsession extend to these thigh high boots? Or were these bad boys just something he was trying out that was captured forever thanks to the magic of photography? We'll never know,