Over the course of history man has created an endless amount of memorable moments. History textbooks tend to canonize the bigger moments, events, and figures in history, but sometimes they overlook other astounding events that truly epitomize what was going on at the time. Once that fleeting moment is gone, the only way to freeze it in time and forever etch it into the annals of history is through photographs because they are all that’s left for man to look back, reminiscence, commemorate, and learn from past mistakes. So buckle up as we’re about to launch this unique time machine and explore rare photos you’ll never find in history books.
Who is this young woman looking so pensive? None other than French actress Brigitte Bardot, right before she hit it big. This photo shows the 18 year old in 1953 while at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, before she made waves in the industry.
She was a very new actress on the scene, having appeared in only a few French and Italian films at this point. Only a year later, she would take the film world by storm and become famous for her on-screen persona as a sultry, carefree siren.
Fainting the Color
It was an incredibly warm day in June 1970 when a weary guard of honor fainted during a Trooping the Color ceremony in 1970. The ceremony was in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday (which is actually in April) and she was riding by on horseback when the poor soldier passed out.
Apparently it is not such a rare occurrence for guards of honor to pass out. In June 2017, it was reported that five soldiers passed out during that year’s ceremony. The weather was about 80 degrees and it can’t be fun to wear a heavy uniform and fur hat.
Valkyrie for the Win
This is a rare image of the six-engined North American XB-70 Valkyrie prototype in the late ’50s, which was supposed to be used as a nuclear-armed strategic bomber by the US Air Force. It was capable of traveling at incredibly-high Mach 3+ speeds for very long distances while also flying at incredible heights.
The USAF eventually had to give up on the production of this supersonic strategic bomber and the B-70 program was abandoned in 1961. In its place, two prototype aircraft were designed and given the XB-70A designation. One crashed after hitting another small aircraft in flight. The second prototype is stationed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
All Dressed Up and Ready to Fly
People are used to getting entertainment on airplanes when they fly but this was definitely a departure from the usual. Pictured here in January 1959, a Swedish Airlines stewardess named Birgitta Lindman was called in to inspect the costume of a showgirl amid news that stewardesses would soon be getting shorter uniforms.
The year before, in 1958, Birgitta Lindman’s face had become famous after she appeared on the cover of Life Magazine. She competed against 53 other stewardesses from airlines around the world to be the covergirl for the magazine’s special issue.
Her Majesty the Gunner
Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning queen of England and she is mostly seen at prim-and proper social events. For that reason, this photo from 1993 is so incredible. It shows Queen Elizabeth firing a British machine gun called the L85.
Military service was nothing new to the queen, however. During World War II, she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. “Subalterm Elizabeth”, as she was referred to, was as a driver of military trucks and a mechanic. At the moment, she’s the only head of state in the world that was in the military during the Second World War.
Legends Taking A Break
Captured here taking a break are actor Marlon Brando and British actress Vivien Leigh while they were filming the now-classic 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. The movie is especially renowned for it’s famous “Stella!” scene. Brando’s role in A Streetcar Named Desire put him on the map.
At this time in their careers, Vivien Leigh was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and won an Academy Award for her role in this film. Meanwhile, Marlon Brando was a relative newcomer to the scene, having appeared in only two movies before this.
In the late ’70s, Rolling Stone magazine chronicled the phenomenon of single people working out at health clubs in Los Angeles. Pictured here is the famous actress Jamie Lee Curtis in a very-retro pink leotard and workout gear, just ready to get down to business.
It was for the 1985 movie Perfect, directed by James Bridges and based on the Rolling Stone articles. The idea that health and fitness clubs replaced bars as the ideal place for singles to mingle fascinated Bridges and compelled him to create a movie with his own take on the matter.
Beauty Amid the Bombs
In 1967, the Vietnam War was raging and claiming tons of lives. In the middle of it all, the US sent film and music stars to perform for the troops and provide a much-needed morale boost. This photo shows a few GIs onstage dancing with actress Raquel Welch in South Vietnam during a USO tour.
Heading this USO Entertainment tour was legendary comedian Bob Hope and this particular performance was part of a visit to the 9th Infantry Division. Let’s hope it cheered those war-weary soldiers up for a little while, or in Hope’s case, a very large laugh.
French actress really stole the spotlight when she made her debut at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival and it’s easy to see why she was one of the era’s It Girls. Her carefree beach bombshell attitude carried through on and off screen, as this photo demonstrates.
The year before her spectacular debut at Cannes, Bardot had appeared in only three films: Le Trou normand; Manina, la fille sans voile; and Les dents longues. Even in her early years, these films showed that she had incredible talent and she continued to prove this later on in her career.
The Beatles on Abbey Road
On Friday August 9, 1969, The Beatles gathered at EMI studios for the most famous photo shoot of their career – the cover for their last album Abbey Road. Before Iain Macmillan photographed the men striding across Abbey Road, Linda McCartney took several photos of the group preparing themselves and waiting outside the studio to begin shooting.
Policemen held up the traffic as the four legends crossed the street and walked away from the studio, symbolizing the end of an era. Macmillan took six shots of the men crossing the zebra crossing on Abbey Road in London and chose the fifth one because it was when all four Beatles were walking in sync.
It would be hard to argue who was hotter back in the ‘70s – “Jungle Jim” a.k.a. Jim Lieberman and his rubber-melting wheel stands or “Jungle Pam” in her shorts and go-go boots? While Lieberman was arguably one of the most iconic drag racers in history, his sassy sidekick was just as memorable.
When Jungle Jim hired the tall 18-year-old Jungle Pam, it was definitely the perfect marketing move for himself, but what he didn’t know was that she would give him a run for his money with her knowledge about cars and mechanics. The fans went wild for her, and she is still a legend today.
Grotto in an Iceberg
Between the years 1911 and 1913, the British sent an expedition to Antarctica for what came to be known as the Terra Nova Expedition. The trip had several geographical and scientific objectives and this photo was definitely one of the most astounding of the ones taken.
This picture was taken on January 5, 1911, and portrays a grotto that formed in an iceberg. The image shows the sheer power of nature and provides interesting perspective. The men inside the iceberg look so small compared to the surrounding ice.
War is Hell
This powerful image demonstrates the futility of war. His helmet reads “War is Hell,” an extremely powerful political statement for a soldier who is supposed to be patriotic. During the Vietname War, many soldiers placed slogans on their helmets as a sign of protest.
Photojournalist Horst Faas captured this iconic photo in 1965 when the 173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion was on defense duty at the Phouc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam. Many young American soldiers opposed the U.S.’s involvement in the war and didn’t want to fight a terrifying guerrilla war.
Riding with Marilyn
The photographer and film producer Sam Shaw captured a series of black and white photographs of the iconic Marilyn Monroe in New York in 1956. Many of the photos were shot in Central Park and Fifth Avenue, but one of the best was of Monroe and husband Arthur Miller cruising through NYC in a brand new 1956 Ford Thunderbird convertible.
Shaw was close to Monroe, allowing him to capture natural, relaxed, and playful images of the star. In January 2014, Newsweek published a special issue of Marilyn’s photographs based on a lost scrapbook she owned. The scrapbook included a love note penned by Monroe to Shaw.
Captured here is actor Charles Bronson, best known for his onscreen gunfighter, vigilante, and police officer antics, hand-in-hand with his second wife Jill Ireland, also a powerful actress. . The picture was snapped back in 1969 in London, England portraying the formidable pair.
Bronson and Ireland co-starred in no less than 15 films together. Ireland even once joked about it saying, “I’m in so many Charles Bronson films because no other actress will work with him.” Now that’s what you call a power couple.
A Broad Perspective
Captured here is a Native American standing upon a hilltop in 1868 gazing over the landscape and the completed Transcontinental Railroad in Nevada. The Native Americans might have signed over the right to their land to the federal government through a series of several treaties, but they definitely didn’t anticipate that the Railroad would pierce through much of their traditional hunting grounds.
The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad system had a dire effect for the native tribes living across the Great Plains. The construction destroyed a lot of the landscape and killed a lot of the game, particularly bison, the tribes relied on for food, fur, clothing, and more.
Purse Those Lips for Me!
Contrary to popular belief, the Victorian era wasn’t all just prim and proper. In fact, your average Victorian person liked to goof around and get silly in order to deal with all those rigid rules. When they weren’t pursuing religious endeavors or campaigning for social and economic change, they were probably making duck faces for the camera, like this woman.
Whether you love it or hate it, the duck face seems to have been around since the 1800s, proving nothing is new under the sun. Just because serious portraits were a commonplace marvel of the era, it doesn’t mean that this woman didn’t feel playful in between all the solemn posing she had to do.
Now, Let Me Take a Selfie!
If you thought selfies were new, think again! It turns out that selfies were around during the Victorian era and this woman captured one of the world’s oldest selfies as she posed in front of the camera and snapped a picture of herself in 1900.
It shows that it really is true that “nothing is new under the sun” and this incredible shot proves how even in the Victorian era, the digital-age psyche already existed, a century before smartphones were even a thought. Little did she know, but she would be setting a global trend.
A Hands-On Kind of Meeting
This poignant image captures Hellen Keller’s meeting with President Dwight Eisenhower on November 3, 1953. It certainly must have been the most unique greeting Eisenhower ever experienced with Keller examining his face with her hands instead of shaking his hand.
Keller, the revolutionary blind and deaf author and political activist, was 73 years old when this photo was taken. After the meeting, Keller said she really “saw” the president by touching his face and that “[she] felt the courage in thought that carried him through such great years of the world’s history.”
Picnicking on the Highway
Captured here is a group of people picnicking on a deserted highway in the Netherlands on November 4, 1973 during the Great Oil Crisis. Even though times were bad, it didn’t stop people from having a good time with some hookah pipes and an instrumental accompaniment to lighten the mood.
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973 when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries launched an oil embargo targeted at the nations that offered Israel support during the Yom Kippur War. The initial nations that were targeted were the Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan. The embargo later extended to Portugal, Rhodesia, and South Africa.
Jackie the Lion
Movie studio MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) refers to its opening credits mascot as Leo the Lion and this fantastic shot shows the recording of the iconic lion’s roar for MGM’s first talking movie White Shadows in the South Seas, released in 1928.
The crew set up a sound stage around the cage of the lion, whose real name was Jackie, in order to record his roar via gramophone, and MGM went on to use this particular logo and recording from 1928 to 1956. Jackie’s trainer Mel Koontz was on set to ensure that the recording went smoothly.
A Supersonic Flight
This intriguing photo captures the very last launch of the American Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet off the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier on July 28, 2006. It was monumental because this takeoff marked the end of an era for the U.S. Navy.
This aircraft was created for the U.S. Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental program to combat Russian MiG fighter jets during the Vietnam War. It was retired in 2006 and replaced by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. During its time in use, it proved to be a fierce fighter jet.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
The year was 1916 and the location somewhere in Northern France, but this image isn’t exactly what it looks like. Captured here isn’t an apocalyptic image, but rather a group of British soldiers keen to play a game of soccer.
They didn’t want to take any chances with the grave threat of chemical warfare looming about during World War I, so they decided to sport some gas masks during their leisure time. Their concern was very legitimate as by the end of the war, more than 50,000 tons of chemical warfare agents were used by both sides.
In 1961, the New York Times published a photograph of the trumpeter Louis Armstrong’s trip to Egypt, where he serenaded his wife Lucille while she sat in front of the Great Sphinx and pyramids of Giza in Egypt. During the Cold War the United States wanted to promote the American way of life, so many jazz musicians were sent around the world to showcase the country’s successful music.
This music was believed to be unique and indicative of the fusion of cultures and was an attempt to get Egyptians more comfortable with foreigners. During the trip, reporters tried asking Armstrong controversial political questions but he refused, saying “I got a trumpet, and I got a young wife, and I ain’t got time to fool with none of the stuff you guys talking about.”
Castro Shooting Hoops
During a visit to Poland on June 8, 1972, Fidel Castro enjoyed a game of basketball with university students of Wisła Kraków. The dictator was a passionate player of the game even though the de facto national sport of Cuba has always been baseball.
Castro was a fiercely competitive player during his high school years at El Colegio de Beléna in Havana, where he dedicated a lot of time to the sport as well as baseball, table tennis, and track and field. For Castro, basketball was much like guerilla warfare in that it entailed agility, speed, and stamina.
Lost in Time
It is forbidden for anyone to take photos of the Supreme Court in session and even to this day, the policy remains in place. However, this rare image somehow managed to capture a Supreme Court session in 1937. But how?
A young woman snuck a camera in the court by cutting a hole in her handbag so that the camera lens could peep through. In 1932, the photojournalist Erich Salomon was the first to sneak a camera inside the Senate. He faked a broken arm in order to hide a camera in his sling.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat!
During the Great Flood of 1910 when the deluged Seine River flooded Paris, the streets weren’t bustling with pedestrians getting on with their daily ventures, but instead commuters who took to using boats to make their way around the city.
The Seine River rose eight meters above the ordinary level after heavy rainfall, resulting in a catastrophe that lasted the entire winter of 1909-1910. Police, soldiers, and firefighters had to row in boats through the waterlogged streets in order to save stranded residents who needed medical attention or were stuck in second-story buildings.
A Wholesome Breakfast for Mankind
Before Neil Armstrong lifted off to outer space and made his small step for man, he feasted on a wholesome breakfast. However, he didn’t eat fried chicken and canned peaches before the Apollo 11 mission, like some images on the Internet seem to portray.
NASA revealed that Armstrong actually ate scrambled eggs, steak, toast, coffee, and orange juice with the rest of the crew, pictured on the right on July 16, 1969. He was joined by fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as well as Donald Slayton, the director of flight crew operations, and the lunar module pilot William Anders.
A Portrait of a Man in Color
Those piercing blue eyes belonged to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His shocking assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28, 1914 triggered Austria-Hungary to declare war against Serbia, which in turn led to the start the devestating World War I.
Gavrilo Princip, a member of a group called Young Bosnia, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinandand his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. This colorized image of the Archduke might not portray it, but he was described as a dark, uninspiring, violent, and reckless man.
It was a film literally of biblical proportions — The Ten Commandments, released in 1956, told the Bible’s story of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It can veritably be called the crown jewel of Cecil B. Demile’s career: it was his last, most expensive, and most successful film.
Ever since 1973, the movie has been rebroadcast on ABC around the Easter and Passover holidays. Pictured here is actress Anne Baxter, who played Nefretiri, queen of Rameses II. Her costumes in the film were exquisitely designed and decorated (though not necessarily historically accurate).
A Noble Samurai
The British-Italian photographer Felice Beato took this photo of a Japanese Samurai all the way back in 1870. He moved to Yokohama, Japan in 1863 and ran a commercial photography studio with fellow photographer Charles Wirgman called “Beato & Wirgman, Artists and Photographers”.
Beato captured rare photos of the Edo period of Japan as well as portraits of Japanese people, landscapes, and cityscapes, as well as a series of photographs that depicted the sites and scenery of Tōkaidō Road. He particularly liked photographing Samurai military mobility in portrait-style images.
Working Out Titanic-Style
Pictured here are men making use of the state-of-the-art rowing machine and the electric horse on the RMS Titanic, which sadly sunk to the bottom of the ocean on April 14, 1912. Only first class passengers had the privilege to enjoy a workout in the gym and use the latest equipment of the time.
One of the passengers, Colonel Archibald Gracie, frequented the gymnasium every day during Titanic‘s short-lived voyage and often spoke about it in interviews after the sinking. The White Star Line’s majestic Titanic ocean liner was the most luxurious ship of its time, often called a floating hotel.
An Incomplete Goddess
Captured here are men working on the head and torch-bearing arm of the Statue of Liberty at the Gaget, Gauthier & Co. workshop in France. A year before she was dedicated, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York port via a French ship which held the disassembled statue on board.
The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the Americans by France on October 28, 1886. It was supposed to be completed in 1876 to celebrate the United States’ centennial, but lack of funds on both sides of the ocean slowed the process down. Before the robed goddess was dedicated to the people, a lot of men worked hard in a joint American and French effort to get her ready.
The French Angel
Despite his tough-guy appearance, fear not of Maurice Tillet, otherwise known as The French Angel. In the 1940s, he was a World Heavyweight wrestling champion and one of the most famous wrestlers of his time. He achieved success despite suffering from a life-altering condition.
Maurice Tillet had a condition called acromegaly, which caused his head, hands, and feet to swell at the age of 20. When Maurice Tillet was 34, a former wrestler convinced him to enter the profession and he went on to find success.
Life During Wartime
The threat of chemical warfare was all too real during World War II and as such, adults and children alike had to take special measures. In Britain, gas masks were distributed to all people and it became mandatory to carry them at all times.
For that reason, this frightening-looking gas mask pram was invented and aimed to keep the baby as comfortable and safe as possible in the event of an attack. To make sure people were well prepared, the government held regular drills with tear gas.
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