39 Rare Historical Moments Captured On CameraBy Jennifer Snow
Captured at the right moment and place in time, forever etched on the cave walls of history – whether in full color, sepia, or monochrome since first snapped and developed from 35mms – these photographs are markers for anyone who would like to find their way back to the good old days.
Old photographs are like pathway stones for history buffs who travel back in time regularly and find themselves quickly elated at the remembrance of key events. Perhaps it’s the sight of world leaders delivering speeches at the podium to salutary consequences, or maybe you prefer to see great scientists, musicians, or athletes in action. Whatever makes your eyes light up, you’re sure to find a few prime examples in this timeless collection of historical moments.
Fighting for Equal Rights: The Jackson 5 Open for Bob Marley
Since the beginning of their careers, these artists have used their music to fight for equal rights. In 1975, before Michael Jackson had built a name for himself as the King of Pop, he traveled to Jamaica along with his brothers to perform as the opening act for Bob Marley and the Wailers.
What better way to attract the world’s attention than by uniting the most popular names in music? Peter Tosh of the Wailers was also present to perform in one of his most memorable comebacks.
The SLA With Patty Hearst
She was only nineteen years old when members of the leftwing Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnapped her, demanding the release of two of their members who had been imprisoned for murder. Failing in this endeavor, the SLA demanded that Hearst’s family donate $70 dollars’ worth of food to every underprivileged person in California.
5 of the Weirdest Super Bowl Halftime ShowsKeep Watching5 of the Weirdest Super Bowl Halftime Shows00:00/01:02
Patricia, the granddaughter of American businessman William Hearst, gradually became a willing captive of the SLA after being brainwashed by their ideology. She was trained with weapons and went on to participate in a bank robbery. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, but President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence early.
Steve Jobs and Computer Hobbyists in the ‘70s
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak frequented the Homebrew Computer Club in Menlo Park, California, they passionately traded ideas with other tech enthusiasts. They probably knew they had something big in their hands, but they did not expect that Apple Computers would become the most valuable company in the world.
Though he admitted that Wozniak was a better designer, Jobs made up for any shortcomings with his entrepreneurial talents. He persuaded Wozniak to leave HP and become his business partner. This picture shows the two laying the groundwork of what Apple is today.
George Raymond Richard Martin in the 1970s
This is an old photograph of a young, much leaner George R.R. Martin in the ‘70s. This was a time when he desired to become a full-time writer, but like many artists, he was struggling with unstable finances. He made a modest living, selling short stories.
In the late 70s, he was able to land a job as a journalism instructor and a Writer in Residence at Clarke University. At this time, he was still many years and many worlds away from writing Game of Thrones.
Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller Alone Together
Beloved American author Helen Keller lost her hearing and eyesight when she was only 19 months old. Despite this, she somehow managed to write with astonishingly vivid imagery. She’s pictured here with silent movie star Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood for the 1919 shooting of Sunnyside.
The two humdingers of their respective art forms found their own unique way to communicate. It was as if they were old friends reunited. Chaplin let her touch his face, mustache, and clothes. He let her feel the movement of his lips and the vibrations of his voice to determine the words he was sharing with her. They laughed often and enjoyed each other’s company.
Birth of First Test Tube Baby
Lesley Brown looks at her husband Peter as they become parents to the world’s first test-tube baby named Louis Joy Brown in Manchester, England. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) involves a complex process whereby an egg is taken from an ovary and combined with the sperm in a lab so a resulting embryo may be placed in the uterus.
Her birth in 1978 was lauded as a scientific breakthrough. Although Louis grew up no different from other children, her parents underwent a phase of controversy, receiving hate mail for agreeing to undergo an alternative process to childbirth.
Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde on Their Wedding Day, 1965
Jane agreed to marry Stephen Hawking with full knowledge of the health problems he was bound to undergo in the coming years. He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease a year after meeting at a party through mutual friends.
The couple divorced in 1995, after a period in which Jane later confessed she’d suffered depression as his constant caregiver. It was a time in her life that she could not help but have mixed feelings about. They were able to reconnect and establish a working relationship after Stephen Hawking’s divorce from his second wife, Elaine Mason.
Janis Joplin as a Budding Artist
Janis Joplin electrified her audience by belting out rock songs with a mezzo-soprano voice and a dynamic stage presence. She used to appear at gigs as a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company but decided to split with them to become her own star.
She was so talented that she could belt out soul and blues like a natural. She didn’t wait too long to release her own album as a solo artist, but she died at the young age of 27 due to a drug overdose.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Military Background
This photograph is a blast from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s past. As a youngster who grew up in Austria during the Allied Occupation, Arnold became fond of armored vehicles. He became part of a tank crew when he served as a conscript in the military for a year.
The former governor of California revealed that he purchased an M47 Patton – the same type he operated as a teen – for $20,000. He had it transported to the United States and even joked about how he enjoyed crushing things. He now uses it to provide an exciting experience for kids in after-school programs.
American Hostages in Iran
American citizens and diplomats were lined up as hostages in 1979 by a group of armed students who attacked the US Embassy based in Tehran. They used the 52 captives as leverage to support their demand to bring the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, back to the country to face his crimes.
The shah was ousted from power during the Iranian Revolution and stayed in the US to receive cancer treatment. Negotiations failed, as did a rescue attempt ordered by the US President at the time, Jimmy Carter. Many unnecessary deaths resulted.
Sex Symbol of the 50s and 60s – Jayne Mansfield
When Jayne Mansfield was just starting out as a professional model, she was given a chance to pose for a General Electric commercial. She was young and stunning, but in the early 50s, the size of her bosom was deemed too prominent for public viewership, so she was cut out of the scene.
She wasn’t a naturally talented actress either, but that didn’t prevent her from rising to fame. Her notoriety came largely from her infamous publicity stunts. One notable example was when she jumped into a pool surrounded by journalists and lost her top. Moments like this helped build her larger-than-life persona.
Dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, 1982
Thousands of people gathered during the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Everyone expected its design to be grandiose and architecturally elaborate, so they were shocked to be greeted by a bleak V-shaped structure.
The memorial wall was designed by a 21-year-old Chinese-American named Maya Lin, who described her design as something being brutally honest in its simplicity, rising from the earth and bearing the names of those who went missing or died during the war. It was designed to be like the scar of a healing wound.
1984 Industrial Disaster in Bhopal, India
The Bhopal Disaster was caused by a gas leak at the pesticide plant (UCIL) Union Carbide India Limited that took the lives of 15,000 people. There had been reported gas leaks before this incident due to equipment problems, but no action was taken to prevent the disaster.
The mixture of methyl isocyanate and water caused pressure to build in one of the tanks, which eventually released the toxic substance, exposing not just the workers but also those living in neighboring areas. This is still considered one of the worst industrial disasters in the world.
Many Marilyn Monroes
Marilyn Monroe’s death in 1962 created a sudden void, not just in Hollywood but across America, that needed to be filled. Her passing by probable suicide affected many of her fans to the point that the suicide rate in the country doubled in September 1962, a month after her death.
In her own way, Marilyn lives on, despite her passing. One of her many continuing effects on the world was the inspiration of look-alike contests, like the one shown above. Events like this kicked off mere months after her death.
Masked Crusaders in New York
Behind the intimidating gorilla masks weren’t hefty men with hairy chests but female artists in high heels and short skirts, protesting against racism and sexism in broad daylight. They were called the Guerilla Girls, and they often took the streets of New York by surprise.
Except for Donna Kaz, the membership-by-invite squad remained anonymous to ensure the focus remained on the issues at hand rather than their personalities. They were usually armed with posters, billboards, books, and artworks to expose corruption and malpractice in the art world.
Master of Poisons
Instead of complaining about her challenging experience during the First and Second World War, before she was known as the novelist who gave life to popular characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie took advantage of her monotonous job as a hospital dispenser to learn about her favorite weapon: poison.
This is why the characters in more than half of her novels resort to using poison in a most plausible, detailed manner. The realism behind the spiked drinks and deadly toxins wielded by Agatha’s characters came from knowledge that only first-hand experience can provide.
Walt Disney Presents Mickey Mouse to a Cat
This is a vintage photograph of American animator Walt Disney, taken in his studio in 1931 by Harris & Ewing. In a playful mood, he shows off a Mickey Mouse illustration to one of his cats. He points an instructional finger to guide the cat’s attention, making this rare print even more adorable.
Disneyland is said to have around 200 cats that live in Castle Walkthrough and the park grounds. They were hired by Disney for rodent control and are regarded as employees.
Dawn Wells of Gilligan’s Island
Few people hope to be caught in a storm and shipwrecked on a faraway island with an uncertain future. However, those that do often dream of sharing this experience with actress Dawn Wells, who played the role of Mary Ann Summers of Gilligan’s Island.
Dawn Wells is best known for her castaway role, but in real life, the actress wanted to be a professional ballerina. Unable to pursue this dream due to an injury, she detoured via the Miss America pageant and then found her way to Hollywood.
Martial Artists Yip Man and Bruce Lee
Although Bruce Lee passed away almost fifty years ago, he has a strong presence on social media thanks to many references in pop culture and the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Indeed, Bruce lives on as vividly as if he were with us today.
We can thank Yip Man for Lee’s strong Martial Arts foundation and for teaching him Wing Chun self-defense. Yip Man did this at a time when no other martial artist was willing to impart their knowledge to foreigners. In turn, Bruce Lee was able to bridge the gap between the East and the West, introducing hybrid martial arts to the world.
The Final Days of Beatlemania
Thousands of Beatles fans pleaded for the band members to stick together, but their heyday as clean-cut musicians was coming to an end. They were burnt out, tired of the band’s extensive performance schedule, and within their circle, many personal issues were brewing.
When asked to describe their recording sessions at the time, John Lennon called it a miserable experience. Hell on earth. Their hearts were no longer in it. The Beatles finally released Let It Be as their final album.
Was the Moon Landing Faked?
It’s been more than five decades since the United States sent a mission to the moon under the command of Neil Armstrong. Onboard the Apollo 11 with Armstrong were Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. There were other landings from 1969 to 1972, followed by China’s Chang’e 4 in 2019 – the first to land on the dark side of the moon.
Despite all this, conspiracy theorists continue to doubt that anyone has ever landed on the moon. Stories persist that the moon landing was staged, the Apollo 11 mission wasn’t real, and that no astronaut could have survived the radiation belt.
Elizabeth Montgomery on the Set of Bewitched
Elizabeth Montgomery wasn’t the first choice to play the role of Samantha Stephens. The initial offer went to Tammy Grimes, who declined to take the role. Grimes likely went on to regret the decision as Montgomery received five Emmy nominations across the show’s eight seasons.
The show was based on the fanciful notion that a witch had decided to settle down and marry an average man. For her love, she’d promised to change her ways and act like a typical housewife. The series started strong but eventually lost steam, with Montgomery commenting that she got tired of it and wanted to move on to new roles.
Munich Olympics Terrorist
In this haunting picture, you can see one of the Palestinian terrorists who stormed the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972. The terrorists kidnapped nine Israeli athletes from their apartments. This masked man is a member of the Black September Organization, which demanded that the Israeli government release 230 Arab prisoners in exchange for the athletes they were holding hostage.
The standoff turned bloody when a shootout erupted at the Munich airport, killing five of the terrorists. Among the casualties were five Israeli athletes, six coaches, and a German police officer.
A Young Jacqueline Bouvier
This rare photograph of 18-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier captures her glowing elegance, even in sepia. Her style and grace were the characteristics she’d become famous for when she became the first lady of the United States.
She was born to a wealthy family and grew up very well-educated. A year after her stint with the Washington Times-Herald, she was introduced to John F. Kennedy at a dinner party by a mutual friend Charles L. Bartlett, and how we wish we had that moment captured on camera too.
Star Trek: The Original Series Featuring Emily Banks
American actress Emily Banks joined the Miss Rheingold pageant at a time when the company’s beer product was a top brew, and the selection of its participants was a highly anticipated event in New York. She won that title in 1960 and appeared in various Rheingold ads, which catapulted her to the spotlight.
She eventually made her way onto the silver screen, playing the role of Yeoman Tonia Barrows in 1966, on the episode “Shore Leave”. She also appeared in The Wild Wild West TV series and Highway to Heaven.
Stan Lee Celebrated by His Famous Marvel Characters
In this rarely seen old photograph, American comic artist Stan Lee is lifted up by a bunch of performers dressed up as some of the fictional characters he co-created for Marvel. You can see Captain America and Spiderman, who, like many others, have become icons of pop culture.
Despite being endowed with supernatural capabilities, Lee’s fictional characters are able to connect with the audiences because they all have relatable imperfections. Stan Lee used them to tackle serious issues like poverty and drug abuse through his art.
Albert Einstein at Lincoln University, 1946
No stranger to racial discrimination as a Jew, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein can be seen in this picture lecturing before a group of colored students at Lincoln University. This was the only educational institution during those challenging times that allowed them to have bachelor’s degrees.
On this matter, Einstein refused to be quiet, saying that racial segregation was wrong. However, a diary he’d written during his travels to Asia revealed that he may have had a problematic attitude toward the Japanese and Chinese people he encountered.
Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Horror movies became so popular during the eighties, thanks to the invention of the VCR and the accessibility of more content. In 1988, Cassandra Peterson starred as Elvira, a horror hostess who, in popular eighties movie fashion, becomes entangled in witchcraft as she travels to Massachusetts to claim an inheritance left by her aunt.
Leaning against the hood of this black low-slung hotrod in a revealing dress (a fashion statement that gets her in trouble in the small town), Elvira made Cassandra Peterson a household name.
When the Greats Collide
When he was fifteen, Muhammad Ali wanted to be as great as Elvis, idolizing the king of rock and roll while most of his friends were listening to Ray Charles. They were worlds apart, but who would’ve guessed that the two greats would eventually meet in 1973. By this time, Ali too had made a big name for himself and would go on to beat George Foreman the following year in Zaire.
Elvis gifted him a bejeweled robe, and in return, received a signed boxing glove from Ali. They became good friends after that meeting and remained so until Elvis’ untimely death. Ali was famously quoted saying, “I was the Elvis of boxing.”
The Unsolved Zodiac Killings
At least five deaths have been officially attributed to an unidentified man who proudly called himself the Zodiac Killer. The murders were all committed from 1968 to 1969. He was known to have hailed a cab and shot the driver in the head. He also killed two teenagers who were out to attend a concert on their first date. In total, the serial killer claimed to have murdered 37 people.
We know this because he sent coded letters to newspapers and authorities. A few deciphered ones revealed that he enjoyed committing his crimes, planned on killing children, and hoped to one day use a bomb. The cases remain unsolved.
Chris Noel Supporting to the Troops in Vietnam
When American entertainer Chris Noel traveled to Vietnam for the first time, she admitted not knowing what to do. All she knew was that she wanted to do the right thing. At the time, she felt that the troops deserved something good to overcome their fears and trauma during the war. Being a disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service was her way of boosting their morale.
She risked touring remote areas that came under mortar attack and flew in helicopters that encountered heavy gunfire – all so she could be with the soldiers and cheer them up. She was given the Distinguished Vietnam Veteran Award for her civilian tours of duty in 1984.
The Risque Centerfold, Bettie Page
Bettie Page had no qualms about having her picture taken by club photographers, most of whom were skirting the boundaries of pornography by disguising their work as art. Her willingness to present a risque image increased her demand and saw her become a top pin-up girl of the fifties. Page helped pave the way to the sexual revolution of the following decade.
She was known for her daring outfits (or lack thereof) that promoted bondage. She also rocked signature bangs, high-heels, jet-black shoulder-length hair, and an overall style that publisher Hugh Hefner described as having a great influence on society.
Soul Singer Claudia Lennear
Claudia Lennear wanted to work as a translator for the UN but ended up using her voice in an entirely different way. She started performing in college, mostly as a backup vocalist for various bands. In an interview, Lennear confessed that she learned so much working with Tina Turner and her husband Ike that without them, she’d likely be 20 miles away from stardom.
She dated David Bowie and Mick Jagger back in the day, both of whom she’d worked with professionally. Claudia Lennear has one album called Phew!
The Flying Man
Otto Lilienthal and his brother Gustav were ahead of their time, constantly coming up with strange ideas when they were kids. They studied the dynamism of birds, believing it would help them invent a flying machine someday. How ridiculous they must have sounded to their peers.
But Otto Lilienthal eventually succeeded in building gliders. He flew 2,000 times with them, beginning with the Derwitzer version and improving on his craft after he became an engineer. Unfortunately, Otto broke his neck and died after falling from a glider in 1896. But his vision of manned flights had already grown on the public by this time.
Steven Spielberg and Bruce
This image shows a young Steven Spielberg being silly between shoots in 1974, lying down to relax on the jaws of his terrifying creation. He named his mechanical great white sharks after his lawyer, Bruce Ramer, and there were three of them. Each Bruce was responsible for different angles and motions.
As if to prove the point that your chances of being killed by a shark are lower than your chances of being hit by lightning, he smirks for the camera. Still, after all these years, the movie Jaws remains frightening to viewers, many of whom are hoping to see a Spielberg-helmed reboot.
Sally Ride Floating in the Space Shuttle Challenger
Sally Ride flew into space two times in her career, and in this picture, you can see her aboard the orbiter Challenger. She was the first American woman to leave the earth’s atmosphere and the third female to travel into space (behind two Russian cosmonauts). Prior to her mission, she was bombarded with ridiculous questions by the media.
People were curious about how she would behave under pressure. Would she cry when things got tough? Would the alien territory affect her reproductive organs, and how about her use of tampons in space? NASA dealt with the menstrual cycle concern by providing contraceptive pills.
The Opening Weekend of Star Wars, 1977
The making of the first Star Wars film came with many challenges, and there were considerable doubts about its success. These factors led to the movie having only a limited release at first. But this photo shows how absurd those concerns were. Thousands of moviegoers piled up for a glimpse of the Jedis in action on opening weekend.
As a result of its skyrocketing demand, scalpers sold tickets for up to fifteen times its original price. Shirts and other merchandise sold out in galactic proportions. The profits revitalized 20th Century Fox’s numbers, helping it grow into a major media conglomerate.
The Oldest McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California
Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up a small drive-in business in 1940. They soon realized that most of their products weren’t selling so well. It was only the hamburgers keeping them afloat. Determined to focus on their strengths, they rehashed their menu and sold hamburgers with orange juice and potato chips.
They sold them fifty percent cheaper than other diners. They also fast-tracked their service with the introduction of the Speedee Service System, which is similar to how assembly lines at factories work. The McDonald brothers began franchising this brand new concept in 1953.
A Bold Pam Grier as Foxy Brown
Female action stars of today have high standards to live up to, with Pam Grier being the first of their kind. She had the beauty and the physique to make her action-packed movies plausible. Her physicality was not common among female actors of her time, and this was coupled with her bold and courageous personality.
In Jack Hill’s blaxploitation movie Foxy Brown, Grier is dressed to kill as she goes undercover to pursue a group of drug dealers responsible for her lover’s death. She played similar roles in the films Friday Foster and Sheba, Baby.
A Petite Sissy Spacek in a ‘70s Poster
A 5’3 Sissy Spacek poses for a monochrome pin-up, represented early in her career by Ford Models. She originally wanted to be a singer but was dropped after her single, “John You Went Too Far This Time,” dove into oblivion.
Sissy soon shifted into acting, and being a habitue at Andy Warhol’s Factory, she got an uncredited role in the artist’s movie Trash. She rose to prominence as Carrie White in the 1976 film Carrie. Most people are familiar with the scene in which she is doused with blood. Carrie retaliates by unleashing telekinetic mayhem.