Prior to the late 1800s, image recording instruments that could capture significant moments in history did not exist. We had to rely on paintings and illustrations to commemorate important people and events. However, while these artworks are truly magnificent, they could sometimes be inaccurate. Fortunately for the 20th century, the very first camera, called the Kodak, was invented. Thanks to these optical devices, memorable moments in history will forever be in print and never forgotten. Today, we have the wonderful opportunity of going down memory lane and revisiting some of the most epic black and white moments caught on camera.
Harry Handcuff Houdini
One can’t talk about magic and not bring up Harry Houdini. Because of his brilliant escape techniques, his name has become synonymous with magic. Houdini originated from Hungary and traveled to the United States to try his luck as a magician. He started out with not a single penny to his name but ended up being arguably the most popular and highest-paid magician of the period.
Houdini’s acts primarily involved escaping from various objects such as handcuffs, straitjackets, ropes, and even a giant can of milk. On three different occasions, he impressed thousands of people by escaping from being buried alive.
The Infamous Luxury Liner
When you hear the word “Titanic,” your mind probably automatically goes to the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet blockbuster film directed by James Cameron; the one in which the mammoth ship hits a giant iceberg, causing it to break in two and sink into the ocean.
While older generations are aware, many youngsters don’t realize that this massive ship was actually a luxurious 5-star hotel that hosted some of the wealthiest people of the nation. The ship’s richest passenger was John Jacob Astor, who sadly did not make it out of the catastrophe alive. When his body was recovered from the wreck, $2440 was found in his pocket. This image shows one of the ship’s grandest cabins.
This entry is an award-winning photo taken by Douglas Martin in 1957, capturing the image of Dorothy Counts-Scoggin being mocked by students behind her. It clearly depicts racism in a school that had once been exclusively white. The passing of the Pearsall Plan abolished racial segregation of schools, but it had no power to force the kids to be accepting. 15-year-old Dorothy was enrolled at Harry Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, but dropped out after a few days, unable to bear the extreme levels of harassment.
An official of the White Citizens Council even persuaded her schoolmates to spit on her and throw rocks at her. The only two friends she made were bullied as well, with eggs being thrown their way. Dorothy transferred and finished her high school education in Philadelphia, earning her degree from Johnson C. Smith University. She shared that her faith in God was what kept her strong despite her hardships.
Location, Location, Location
Sometimes, it’s not the people, but the location, that makes an image truly epic. These two guys and their courageous diving efforts may not be as famous as any of the other figures featured on this list, but the photo is worth a look nonetheless.
The fame of the body of water in this picture makes up for the anonymity of the divers. As you might’ve guessed from the skyline in the background, it is the River Thames of London. You can see Westminster Bridge and the House of Parliament in the backdrop. This duo’s fearless jump, accompanied by the epic setting, makes this moment one for the books. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for the on-lookers as well.
Einstein Emigrates to the US
Einstein paid the US a visit in 1933 as he was thinking about joining Caltech. During his stay in the country, however, Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. Having Jewish blood, it was no longer safe for Einstein to return home. This urged him to emigrate to the US for good. In one of his acts as a tourist, Einstein stopped by the Hopi House near the Grand Cany
The native tribe gave him a warm welcome, even allowing him to put on a traditional Hopi headdress. This image features Einstein and his wife, Elsa, along with some Hopi tribe members. The photo is concrete evidence of just how open-minded the theoretical physicist was.
A Very Hendrix christmas
Jimi Hendrix is without a doubt one of the most celebrated musicians and greatest electric guitarists of all time. His career might have only spanned four years, but his influence in music is unparalleled. Famous for performing at Woodstock, the period’s most popular music festival, Jimi awed the audience with his brilliant talent, unique psychedelic style, and guitar-smashing tricks.
Given how jaw-dropping his antics always were, it comes as no surprise to encounter such a photo of the musician, donning a Santa outfit and showing off the trippy cover art of his album. This Saint Nick get-up was for an advertisement in Record Mirror, a now-defunct magazine. With Jimi’s eccentric character, though, it’s easy to mistake this for a casual outfit!
Nowadays, we all know Elvis Presley as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and one of the most influential icons of his time. Presley gained popularity in the 1950s, earning millions of fans with his talent and good looks. He may have received some criticism for his less-traditional hip-swaying, pelvic thrusting antics, but that did not stop him from becoming a wild success.
Not many know, however, that Elvis enlisted for the army back in 1958. Yup, true to his title, the King served his country in the Korean-American war. His service was however cut short after the death of his mother. She sadly passed away from a heart attack.
The Creepiest Pageant on Earth
Unfortunately, this haunting photo has not been tampered with whatsoever. I know it seems eerie, but back in the day, there was such a thing as the Miss Lovely Eyes beauty pageant. The competition happened in the 1930s, sometime between World War I and World War II, and took place in Florida.
Unlike usual beauty pageants, this one’s definition of beauty was limited to the contestants’ eyes, hence the bags covering the other parts of these poor ladies’ faces. So, no, this is not a group of bank robbers dressed in tight clothing. Rather, they are some of the contestants of the extremely peculiar pageant.
Working Out, Monroe-Style
Marilyn Monroe was one sultry vixen, and she made it her business to maintain that goddess-like physique. In order to do so, Marilyn regularly worked out using weights. Here is a rare picture of the adorable beauty taking a break from toning up those biceps.
Despite being an international sex symbol who promoted body positivity, did you know that our dear Norma-Jeane suffered from low self-esteem? In order to meet the demanding desires of her followers, she subjected herself to various cosmetic surgeries such as an overbite correction, nose job, and chin implant.
Audrey Hepburn’s Unusual Pet
Whether you have a petite pup peeking out from your purse or a huge St. Bernard following you as you walk along the streets, having a pet dog has become a norm all over the world. For movie star Audrey Hepburn, though, owning a dog just wasn’t exciting enough.
Instead, she decided to have a deer for a pet! Yup, this photo of Audrey doing some grocery shopping with a deer is not at all Photoshopped. She met this deer while shooting the film, Green Mansions. The movie’s producers recommended that she spend some quality time with the tiny creature to reflect a real bond in the movie. Audrey fondly called her newfound friend Pippin.
Hemingway’s Favorite Spot
Ernest Hemingway is truly one of the most significant figures in American literature. He was so brilliant that some of his works, such as the famous Old Man and the Sea, still managed to get published even after his death. He wrote a total of seven novels and received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954.
If you imagine Hemingway being at his creative best behind a desk, you are mistaken. Apparently, most of his best ideas emerged as he was relaxing in his bathtub. I wonder which novel he was brewing in his mind while this photo was taken?
Frank Sinatra is Just Like the Rest of Us
Frank Sinatra may have been a “man’s man,” but he did still adhere to proper hygiene. It was important for him to both look and feel good, hence the serious shaving session happening in this photo. The image was taken in 1965 by John Dominis, a photographer from Life. In order to capture genuine and personal moments of the famous musician, Dominis spent an entire month shadowing Sinatra.
The outcome is this highly intimate and special moment of the singer shaving his face. Upon the release of the photo, it quickly turned into a classic. The fact that he was doing something so relatable made him even more loved by fans. Even Sinatra himself loved the photo.
Tenzin Gyatso, or as we commonly know him, the 14th (and present) Dalai Lama, has become an internationally acclaimed monk for his monumental efforts to promote peace. During his time as a Tibetan religious leader, he has met with several prominent world figures including US Presidents and Hollywood celebrities.
With his awe-inspiring advocacies and wisdom, it’s hard to imagine the Dalai Lama as an innocent young child. Tenzin was born to a family of farmers in Tibet in 1935. At just 15 years of age, he ascended to Holiness status and has governed Tibet ever since (though much of that time has been spent in exile in India).
Former US President, Bill Clinton and former Senator of the state of New York, Hillary Clinton, have gone through more ups and downs than most couples during the course of their marriage. In this photo, however, we see a young couple happily in love, enjoying the early stages of their relationship. This image was captured in 1970, many years before the Clinton-Lewinski scandal.
The two met at Yale University while studying Law. Bill was enamored with Hillary’s sense of self-certainty strength. He had to propose to Hillary twice before she finally said yes. On his first attempt, Bill was rejected as Hillary said she needed more time. She eventually accepted Bill’s proposal when he gave it a second go.
Andre Rene Roussimoff
Andre Rene Roussimoff was a professional wrestler who hailed from France. He is more commonly and appropriately known as Andre the Giant, because, well, he stood 7 feet 4 inch tall. Andre suffered from a disease called gigantism which causes a proliferation of growth hormones in the body. His massive size earned him another nickname: the “eighth wonder of the world.”
He competed in the very first WrestleMania hosted by WWE, where he fought against Hulk Hogan. In 1993, he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. He also tried his hand at acting, starring as Fezzik in the film, The Princess Bride. Andre the Giant was attending a fashion exhibit in Paris when this picture was taken.
The Matinee Lady
Actress Carol Wayne rose to fame in her guest appearances on the Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson. She rose during the golden age of late-night shows, and her consistent guest spots earned her the title of “Matinee Lady.” She was adored and loved by many, but her massive popularity met an abrupt end as she suffered a tragic fate.
Carol died in suspicious circumstances while on a tour of Mexico with partner Edward Durston. The cause of her death is still unknown and is hence subject to many theories. While a huge number of people believe it to be foul-play on Durston’s part, insufficient evidence was gathered to prove her partner guilty.
Lucille’s Fake Nose
Everyone who lived through the 1950s came to know and love the perfect pairing that was Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Their sitcom, I Love Lucy, was one of the most-watched shows of their time. The show was so adored because of the hilarious duo.
It might seem like Lucille is in dire need of emergency assistance in this picture, but there is no need to be alarmed, as this was just a snapshot from a series episode. In this particular scene, Lucy had a fake nose put on as a disguise. She had just accidentally hit William Holden’s face with a custard pie. Whoops.
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most captivating and alluring celebrities of all time. People adored her and loved watching her on the big screen. Over the course of her career, she starred in close to 30 films. She may be a looker, but apparently, the “blonde bombshell” did not have the total package. Several people have reported having difficult working relationships with the actress.
Her ADHD and addiction to prescription medication made it challenging for her to memorize lines. For instance, her brief line, “It’s me, Sugar,” took 47 repeats to get a workable take. According to witnesses, Marilyn kept saying, “Sugar, it’s me,” unintentionally. In this image, Marilyn is being coached by director Billy Wilder.
The Epitome of Bromance
When the names Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are uttered, one cannot imagine anything other than a pair of muscular and testosterone-filled men. And who can blame you? These gentlemen starred in some of the most iconic guy flicks of all time, such as Rambo, The Terminator, and Rocky. And, if you look closely, these two actually look somewhat alike.
Just ask Danish model and actress Brigitte Nielsen, as she apparently has a type, having dated both guys. Despite dating the same girl, their bromance was not tainted in the slightest. In fact, they remain close to today. Just look at this sweet photo: a concrete example of bro love at its finest.
Back in the 1920s, there were no such things as CGI and modern technology. So, it makes you think, how on earth was MGM, a production company, able to capture that iconic clip of a lion’s roar? As it turns out, the iconic opening credit was the work of a fellow named Leo, who was a real, flesh-and-bones Lion.
Yep. There were no special effects involved in the shooting of the scene. Rather, an actual lion was used. Adding to the danger of the whole scenario was the fact that they had to bother the beast to make him produce a loud roar. It was an extremely dangerous and risky endeavor, but it definitely paid off. Thank goodness no one was killed in the making of the video!
If a picture paints a thousand words, then these snaps of history’s most iconic moments surely pain a million each. We’ve saved the most spectacular ones for last; have a look and decide if you agree.
Time and time again, people have shared special encounters with dogs who saved their lives. That is why it is really an understatement to say that “a dog is a man’s best friend”. At times, pups truly are our saviors, in more ways than one. This photo is a perfect example of how devoted dogs can be to their owners.
This furball is biting onto the little boy’s shirt in order to keep him from falling to the river as he attempts to reach his golf ball. If that is not a sign of intelligence and true love, I don’t know what is. This is clear evidence that if you show your dog the love and affection it deserves, then you can expect to be treated the exact same way.
Being a successful fashion designer is a challenging feat, involving far more than just sewing your name onto a piece of clothing. Louis Réard, for instance, had quite a struggle introducing a new piece of apparel to the world.
The French designer debuted the bikini in 1946, and sadly it was not at all well-received. Blame it on the conservative and traditional market back in the day. However, a few decades later, his hard work finally paid off. The bikini was welcomed by a more open-minded fashion community as a legitimate garment. And it’s been onwards and upwards for the iconic swimsuit ever since.
Marilyn Plays Soccer
Just in case it hasn’t become apparent to you from the sheer number of rare shots of the icon included in this list, I am a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe. Aside from being a successful actress and singer, Marilyn also showed a lot of interest in soccer. As such, when the blonde bombshell was asked to be a guest at a soccer game between the US National Soccer Team and the Israeli Hapoel Tel Aviv team, she ecstatically said yes.
On the field, she showed so much enthusiasm and passion for the sport that the referees allowed her to play with the ball for a while before the official start of the game. That happy smile on her face is absolutely priceless.
The Meeting Of Two Stars
Back in the 1960s, the rise to superstardom of both The Beatles and Muhammad Ali were unrivaled in their rapidity and intensity. While both parties were famous for different talents, their popularity was equally wild. The Beatles were famous for the “British Invasion,” as they introduced English pop music to the United States. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali’s unbeatable skills in boxing earned him fame all over the world.
Ali was also quite vocal with his political opinions, culminating in his refusal to be drafted in the Vietnam War. In this one of a kind and incredibly adorable picture, the iconic figures meet for the very first time. There were so many bright stars in this room, I’m surprised it didn’t explode.
Frida, The Beautiful… Boy?
Can you spot which one is Frida Kahlo in this picture? We all know the famous Mexican painter had a rather peculiar personality, but did you know that her eccentricities extend all the way back into her childhood? This picture was taken in 1924 when Frida was a young 17-year-old. Her father Guillermo asked all the children to pose for the camera, and pose for the camera they did.
Frida, however, had the brilliant idea to dress up differently. If you still can’t find her, take a closer look at the guy in the middle with the sassy attitude. That’s not actually a guy, that’s Frida. That intense look in her eyes coupled with a three-piece suit definitely made her look rather masculine.
Over the centuries, women have made strides in promoting equal rights in a patriarchal society. Among those who have contributed significantly to women’s rights are Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst. In the world of sports, German marathon runner Kathrine Switzer defied the odds and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. It was 1967, and women were not allowed to participate in the race.
Switzer did not get discouraged by this, however. Even when Jock Semple, a race official, tried to stop her by grabbing her race bib, she remained determined. Her boyfriend, Thomas Miller, who was also in the race, helped her by shoving the out-of-line race official to the ground. Five years later, in 1972, women were finally officially welcomed into the race.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Way before Mahatma Gandhi led his country to independence from the colonial rule of the British empire, he got his start as a simple man trying to pursue a law degree. This picture was taken in April of 1893, when he was only 23 years old. Gandhi decided to live in South Africa when he started work as a lawyer.
For twenty years, he developed his beliefs on non-violence, civil rights, and freedom. He then went on to become one of the most prominent historical figures who promoted peace. The term Mahatma, meaning “venerable,” has been used to refer to him. In India, he is known as the Father of the Nation.
The French Statue
The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York. Being the American icon that she is, not a lot of people are aware that she was not, in fact, American-made. The massive statue was actually built in Paris and then gifted to the United States.
It was Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, who came up with the statue’s design. Then it was over to Gustave Eiffel, the same person who built the Eiffel Tower, to construct the statue’s metal skeleton. This photo captures the last few stages of the famous lady’s creation. It was taken in 1884, around the time when the cornerstone was being installed.
Bob Senior and Junior
When you hear the name Robert DeNiro, you most likely immediately imagine a serious guy with a tough demeanor. This comes as no surprise as he did play many manly roles in various classic movies such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driving, and of course, who could forget him in The Godfather? While it’s hard to imagine him as a cute and innocent baby, he was indeed once a tiny little kid, like we all were.
In this picture, the already kind of gangster-looking toddler is hanging out with his loving dad, internationally acclaimed painter Robert DeNiro Sr. Back in the day, Bob Jr. had a tight relationship with his dad. When he received his countless acting awards, he made sure to dedicate one of them to his dear father.
If you watched the historical drama, The Crown on Netflix, then you would know that the United Kingdom’s reigning queen, Elizabeth II was part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service or ATS, an army branch for women. See, there is so much more to her than meets the eye.
During World War II, the queen did not just sit on her throne doing nothing, she performed her role to help her people as an auto mechanic. She was not afraid to get her hands dirty, contrary to what people might assume of royalty. Kudos to this wonderful woman who is both a queen and a skilled mechanic!
A Difficult Past
Did I mention I’m a huge Marilyn Monroe fan? This is the last entry of her, though, I swear. Norma-Jeane may have been one of the most gorgeous women alive but behind all that success ess a pretty rough and toxic childhood. At a very young age, both her parents passed away, leaving her little choice but to live in an orphanage.
At 16, she married her neighbor just so she could get away from her awful life. As her then-hubby went off to fight for the country in World War II, she started working in a factory for Van Nuys. The photo we have here is said to be the same image that made her famous.
Albert and Charlie: An Early Bromance
I never thought of relating these two people in any way, but apparently, the iconic personalities were actually really good friends. Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and silent film actor Charlie Chaplin may not seem to have anything in common; after all, they came from such opposing fields.
However, both men were of European descent (Chaplin from England and Einstein from Germany), and both decided to migrate to the United States. The two instantly hit it off when they first met at Chaplin’s tour of the country. They had such a good time that Chaplin invited Albert for dinner, leading to one of the first true bromances of the 19th century.
Jayne Mansfield’s Revenge
That vicious stare says it all. Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren were both actresses in the 1950s who had to compete for the same roles. Naturally, this sparked an intense rivalry between the two. Sophia was a sexy brunette while Jayne was a blonde hottie, but because Hollywood at the time could only offer so many roles for women, conflict was inevitable. The hatred towards Jayne is shining from Sophia’s eyes in this photo.
As it turns out, this was all a publicity stunt from Jayne Mansfield. The photo was taken at an event to welcome the Italian Loren to Hollywood. Mansfield had not been invited but decided to crash the party wearing a low cut dress and no bra. As this iconic photo was being taken, she also deliberately hunched her shoulders and leaned forward to reveal her breasts.
Walt Disney’s Lunch
Over the years, the Disney name has become synonymous with entertainment. From iconic films such as Snow White and Bambi to classics like The Lion King and Aladdin, and of course the well-loved Disneyland theme parks, Disney is pretty much the gold standard of entertainment.
With the company’s insane success, it can be a little hard to recall that Disney actually only started with black and white cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse. The magic all began with the company’s down-to-earth creator, Walt Disney. Check out this picture of cartoonist Walt enjoying a piece of fried chicken for lunch. This guy has absolutely come a long way.