Are you ready for some seriously interesting historical facts? We’ve got 44 photos that show some of the most extraordinary, fascinating, and just plain weird moments in history. Just to give you a taste of what’s in store, we’ve got young Marilyn Monroe working in a munitions factory, the first tattoo lady, the Statue of Liberty’s face arriving by boat, Bea Arthur’s military ID, a handsome 21-year-old Winston Churchill, and Lou Gherig’s audition photo to play Tarzan.
From Outer Space to Your Screen: The First Selfie Taken in Space by Buzz Aldrin (1966)
In 1966, astronaut Buzz Aldrin made history by taking the first ever selfie in space during his orbital mission on Gemini 12. This mission was a major achievement for the Gemini program, which aimed to prove that astronauts could work effectively outside of spacecraft. The mission laid the foundation for the first moon landing in 1969 and lasted a total of 5 hours and 30 minutes.
As a result of this mission, Buzz Aldrin became the first person to take a selfie in space. This small but significant moment marked a giant leap for selfie-kind and opened the door for future astronauts to capture their own out-of-this-world experiences. The Gemini 12 spacecraft is now on display at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Work before school!
The Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina is still in operation today. In the past, children were required to work at the canning company in addition to going to school.
These kids can be seen shucking oysters in the old-timey photo.
Maud Stevens Wagner was the first known female tattoo artist in the US, 1907
I think I’ve seen this woman wandering around my Brooklyn neighborhood. Except, Maud Stevens Wagner was born in 1877. She was a performer in a traveling circus and worked in sideshows. She got her tattoo to start after she met her husband who was a sailor who traveled the world and said he learned to tattoo from the tribesmen in Janva and Borneo.
Maud loved his tattoos and received tattoo lessons in exchange for a date. The two fell in love and were later married – which meant more tattoos and more tattoo lessons. Maud and her husband specialized in hand-poked tattoos, despite the widespread of tattoo machines. And the rest is tattoo history!
Who needs a pony when you can ride a boar, this boy saddled up his boar for a ride in the 1930s.
If there was ever a kid to ride a board – this small child has the perfect face for it. I’m pretty positive that he and the boar have the exact same expression. Then again, we aren’t actually seeing the kid on top of the boar and riding away. It darn pretty much looks like he’s “standing” near a boar – that could be ridden.
Both boars and pigs are smart creatures. A boar is simply an intact male pig. So this board should be smart enough to know he doesn’t want some kid in short pants on top of him.
Marcia Marcia Marcia!
Maureen McCormick played Marcia Brady on the Brady Bunch – which ran from 1969 to early 1974, Friday nights on ABC. Her hot looks and perky personality made people scream, “Marcia Marcia Marcia!”. But there was a dark side to this adulation. This came in the form of Jan Brady (played by Eve Plumb) who was not a fan of all the attention that was given to her older sister. Marsha was the popular girl to second fiddle Jan.
Did we mention that all the Brady kids had to share one bathroom and their dad was an architect who designed their house? What was up with that?
A Blast from the Past: A Telephone Ad from 1959
Take a trip back in time to 1959 with this ad for telephones. Which one is your favorite? The old-timey phone or the futuristic one? It’s interesting to think about how people in the past imagined the future of technology.
In this case, the futuristic phone looks a bit different than what we’re used to today. Who knows what inspired the designers to create this particular style? And it’s funny to think about how quickly technology can change – this ad was from the same year that the first car phone was invented. The General Post Office launched a radio telephone service for cars in South Lancashire, England, marking the beginning of a new era of communication on the go.
From Factory Worker to Movie Star: The Rise of Marilyn Monroe
Before she became a famous movie star, Marilyn Monroe worked in a military factory in Van Nuys, California during World War II. As a young woman named Norma Jean, she helped with the war effort by assembling parts for airplanes at the Radioplane Munitions Factory.
This photo of Norma Jean were taken by David Conover in 1944 while he was on assignment for Yank magazine. At the time, Conover worked for the U.S. Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit, and his commanding officer was Ronald Reagan.
The Historical Moment Captured in the First Photo of Machu Picchu
Can you imagine not having your photo taken until 1911? That’s exactly what happened to Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru. It wasn’t until 1911 that American archeologist Hiram Bingham arrived in Peru with a small team of explorers to search for the famous “lost” cities of the Incas. He took the very first photo of Machu Picchu and helped bring it to the world’s attention.
Bingham had no idea that he was discovering one of the top tourist destinations in the world. His photo and the subsequent exploration of Machu Picchu helped uncover a fascinating piece of history that is still enjoyed by millions of visitors today. Thanks to Hiram Bingham, we can all marvel at the beauty and mystery of Machu Picchu.
How the Size of the Donut Hole Changed Over Time (1927-1948)
The size of donut holes actually decreased between the years 1927 and 1948. This might be good news for those of us who want more donuts and fewer holes, but it could be a problem for donut production factories. If the trend had continued, the donut might have evolved into a small cake.
One theory for the smaller donut holes is that the invention of the first donut machine made it easier to create donuts with smaller holes. On a more practical note, smaller donut holes might also prevent donut breakage. While it’s interesting to think about the evolution of the donut hole, one thing is for sure: we can’t get enough of these delicious treats!
From the Archives: The Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren News Story That Made Headlines
In 1957, two of the biggest movie stars in history, Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren, met at a Beverly Hills party organized by Paramount Studios to welcome Loren to Tinseltown. At the time, Loren’s career had just taken off in Europe and she was the most photographed actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.
However, Loren felt that her spotlight was stolen by blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield when she greeted her at her table. In later years, Loren spoke about the encounter, saying “I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow-BOOM!-and spill all over the table.” This meeting between two iconic actresses is certainly a memorable moment in Hollywood history.
Honoring Margot Kidder’s Performance as Lois Lane in ‘Superman’ (1978)
Margot Kidder is best known for her role as Lois Lane in the 1978 film “Superman,” and this photo shows her draped in nothing but a Superman blanket. Kidder was born in Yellowknife, Canada and started her career in low-budget Canadian films. She was cast opposite Christopher Reeve in “Superman,” and the film took a year to shoot. Kidder went on to appear in a total of four “Superman” movies, with Lois Lane being her most iconic role. However, her screen time in “Superman III” was only about five minutes long.
Kidder’s portrayal of Lois Lane has left a lasting impact on the superhero genre and she will always be remembered for her iconic performance.
A Historical Snapshot: The Face of the Statue of Liberty in 1886
The Statue of Liberty is a famous monument located in the New York Harbor. It was given to the United States by France and was dedicated in 1886. It was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower.
In 1885, the face of the statue arrived in New York and had to be put together, kind of like an Ikea couch. It’s interesting to think about how the statue was built and transported to its current location.
The Iconic Woodstock, 1969
The Woodstock Music Festival was a four-day event that took place on a dairy farm in upstate New York in 1969. It was a popular event that attracted over 400,000 people. The festival is famous for the movie that was made about it, called Woodstock.
During the festival, there were some memorable moments. For example, Carlos Santana was reportedly so high on stage that he felt like his guitar was a snake. The band Sha Na Na played before Jimi Hendrix, which was a strange booking decision. The Who’s Pete Townsend also punched activist Abbie Hoffman when he tried to interrupt their set with a political rant. It seems like drugs might have been a factor in some of these odd events.
Octopus tries to pull scuba diver back into tank in Oregon.
In this photo, an octopus is trying to pull a scuba diver back into its tank in Oregon. Octopuses are soft-bodied, venomous creatures with eight tentacles. They can spray ink as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened. It’s worth noting that only the blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans.
Fun fact: Octopuses are known for their agile ability to swim through water quickly. They are also referred to as “octopi.” In this case, the octopus in the photo doesn’t seem to be a blue-ringed octopus, so the scuba diver might not have to worry about being killed by the venom. However, it’s still a stressful situation for the diver to be in.
Behind the scenes photo of Vivien Leigh napping on the set of “Gone With the Wind” in 1939!
Even movie stars need to take a break sometimes! Vivien Leigh, the star of “Gone With the Wind,” was caught napping on the set of the film in 1939. “Gone With the Wind” was the first film in color to win an Academy Award.
Leigh and her co-star, Clark Gable, didn’t always have the best relationship on set. Leigh complained about Gable’s bad breath, and he was known to eat garlic before their kissing scenes. Barbara O’Neil, who played Leigh’s mother in the film, was actually 28 years old at the time, while Leigh was only 25. It’s interesting to think about the behind-the-scenes dynamics of this classic movie.
Burt and Loni are happy…for the moment
Burt Reynolds married Loni Anderson in April 1988. The had a quiet 20-minute ceremony on Burt’s Florida ranch – that was also attended by five paparazzi helicopters circling over the ceremony – while throngs of reporters positioned themselves outside the gates.
Their marriage ended five years later but it took another 22 years to completely sever financial ties. That sounds a little bitter and like an ugly split. Reynolds later said the marriage “was a really dumb move on my part.” Adding: “I should have known that you don’t marry an actress. It wasn’t lollipops and roses.”
Masks worn by doctors during the Plague
Any historical tidbit about The Plague always gets me giddy. During his era, doctors would wear bird beak masks to protect them from being infected by, well, the plague. They believed the disease was airborne and was spread by miasma, which is a noxious form of “bad air.”
To battle this perceived threat, the long beak was packed with such sweet smells as dried flowers, herbs and spices. Also the bird-beak mask provided the doctors with creepy award-winning costumes for any fancy dress party they might be attending. The doctors’ attempt at safety backfired in the sense that the bird masks became a symbol of the Black Death. Not to mention who creepy it most have made patients feel.
Marilyn has got to be my favorite of The Munsters. My second favorite is either Grandpa or Eddie Munster. Named for Marilyn Monroe, and played by several different actresses, the deal with Marilyn Munster was she was considered homely and unattractive by the rest of her monster family members.
Marilyn was originally played by Beverley Owen, who took the role because she thought the show would never succeed. But it did and she had to move from New York to Los Angeles. On numerous occasions, she was seen depressed and crying in the studios. She was fired but went on to marry future Sesame Street writer and director Jon Stone.
Working hard to dig this locomotive out of snow after the Great Plains Blizzard in 1949.
You know that a blizzard is bad when it buries an entire train. In 1949, a blizzard whipped through the northern plains and was considered one of the worst in history – with heavy snow, sleet, cold temperatures, and winds of 50 – 70 miles per hour. Enormous snow drifts paralyzed much of the Midwest region. Airplanes were used to bring in food and medical supplies to isolated towns because snow blocked roads and railways.
Trains, submerged in snow drifts, had to be dug out by hand. Dynamite was also used to loosen ice-encrusted snow – to set the trains free. Conversely, hot chocolate sales went up during this period.
Photographer Michio Hoshino mauled to death by bear in 1996.
Don’t you hate noisy neighbors at campsites? Apparently, that’s what this grizzly bear must have been thinking. Remember that deal about always hanging your food in a tree when camping? Well, what happens when the bear thinks that you are the food? The bear made an unexpected entrance inside a tent. I’m sure his appearance scared the camper so much that he had to grab a camera and take a photo of the beast.
Not really much of a fight – since bears can weight up to 700 lbs. and rip you to shreds with their massive claws. In this case, here is the last photo taken by wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino. He had the notoriety for taking dangerous wildlife photos – as this image would attest.
A fisherman and his catch in Istanbul, 1930.
Hey mister, is that a fish on your back or are you just happy to see me? Is this man a walking Salvador Dali painting? Either that is one very huge fish, or that is one very tiny man. Did he catch this fish or is he bringing it home from the Turkish Costco of the 1930s?
In modern times, nearly 20,000 registered fishing boats will cast off to mark the start of commercial fishing season – where you would hear the Turkish phrase for this event, “Vira Bismillah.” This literally translates to “raising the anchor in the name of God.”
Bea Arthur in 1943 U.S. Marine Corps ID photo.
Before Bea Arthur played “Maude” on TV’s Maude and Dorothy Zbornak on TV’s Golden Girls, she was in the U.S. Marine Corps. Why is that not too surprising from the tall actress with the deep voice? During World War II, Arthur worked as a truck driver and typist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. She earned the rank of Staff Sergeant before receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1944.
Arthur also worked as a licensed medical technician before moving to New York City in 1947 – where she enrolled in the School of Drama at The New School. And the rest is Bea Arthur history…
This is creepy and cool – all at the same time. This abandoned abode looks like it was once inhabited by The Munsters.
Hmmm, I wonder what the asking price is for this property? Sure it would need a little fixing up – but it would make for a nice weekend getaway place. Then again, we did learn some lessons about fixing up properties from the 1986 Tom Hanks vehicle, The Money Pit – where they bought a house for a suspiciously low price. Most likely, doors will fall off their hinges, staircases will come tumbling down, and a bathtub will fall through the floor.
Grace Slick was hot back in the day – and that say was during the 1960s. Slick was a former model who jumped to fame with the San Francisco psychedelic music scene. She’s best known for performing with the Jefferson Airplane – whose best known song is White Rabbit.
The Jefferson Airplane rebranded in the 70s – and changed their name to The Jefferson Starship. They went on to do the theme song, Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now, to the Andrew McCarthy movie, Mannequin – which was about a mannequin that comes to life. And then there’s some sort of love story.
A dashing 21 year-old Winston Churchill in 1895.
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945. That term went so well, that Churchill decided on a sequel to this term and became Prime Minister again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill’s big claim to fame was leading Britain to victory in World War II.
Known for looking like a bulldog, and having a big appetite for Scotch, here’s a photo of young Churchill from back in 1895. He was a second lieutenant in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars regiment of the British Army and he earned a wage of $170 a year. Later that same year, he traveled to Cuba where he observe the county’s war of independence.
Portable Christmas music to get one into the Holiday spirit while doing dinner preparation during the 1950s.
Check this out -here’s how they did portable music back in old-timey days. This housewife looks absolutely delighted to be partaking in some Christmas music with the Pandora of the day. Imagine a time when you actually had to put your stereo system on a cart in order to listen to music while in the kitchen while holding a roast dinner.
Around this time, portable battery-operated reel-to-reel tape recorders were introduced to the public – but were a bit pricey. Cassette decks were introduced in the 60s for home use – and became the portable music of choice for those making Christmas dinner.
Portrait of a Victorian bride.
According to an article in the April 19, 1901 edition of the Islington Gazette, “a spinster bride of forty is becoming more and more frequent, especially in high society.” Yes, as the Victorian era was coming to a close, some women were seeing the advantage of marrying a little later in life, once the women has gained maturity and life experience.
This was part of the changing norms of society – where high society Victorian brides were usually between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. In the case of this photo, this women looks like she could star in the Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride.
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and their grandchildren on a Christmas card from 1987.
First of all, great use of kilts in this Royal Family photo. The second thing that sells me is the shoes. In 1987, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip pose with their four grandchildren: Prince William, Prince Harry, Peter Phillips, and Zara Phillips.
It’s an annual tradition, which has been going for generations, for the royal family to send out Christmas cards to their loyal subjects, as well as friends and family. The tradition began in 1914 with King George V and Queen Mary – who were Queen Elizabeth II’s grandparents. They sent a greeting card to the troops fighting in World War I.
Sweet teenage couple listening to records back in 1948. *Note the milk and cookies.
This is what it was like to be a teenager back in 1948. You would put on records, pour a glass of milk, and eat some cookies. What more would you want? Note that no one in this photo is checking their iPhone or checking a Facebook feed. These were much simpler times.
Here’s some trivia, the word “teenager” was not even a word until the late 1940s. The word “teenager” was like the word “millennial” of today. Life Magazine of the day wrote, “the modern notion of the teen years as a recognized, quantifiable life stage, complete with its own fashions, behavior, vernacular and arcane rituals.”
Ann-Margaret taken for a ride
Ann-Margaret – hell ya! What’s there not to like about this photo. You got young, hot Ann-Margaret, you got a very cool motorcycle, and you got the open road. Viva la America!
One thing I never knew, Ann-Margaret’s last name is Olsson. She is a Swedish-American singer/actress who is known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie. The Cincinnati Kid, Carnal Knowledge, Tommy, and Grumpy Old Men. Oh yeah, she also starred opposite Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas; in fact she was once billed as the female version of Elvis Presley. Trying to capitalize on the ‘female Elvis’ she recorded a rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel.”
The first drive-in theatre in California. (Los Angeles, 1935)
I love drive-ins. You get to sit in your car and watch a movie. The first drive-in movie theater opened its gates in 1933 and was located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey. The concept was the baby of Richard Hollingshead, who not only loved movies but was a sales manager at his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden.
Before opening for business, Hollingshead experimented in the driveway of his house with different projection and sound techniques. He mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinned a screen to a trees, and placed a radio behind the screen for sound. He opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later. And the rest is drive-in history.
A Kenyan woman holding her dik-dik in Mombassa. (1909)
This photo looks like something taken during New York Fashion Week. But it’s actually from 1909 and a Kenyan woman holding a dik-dik. What’s a dik-dik, you say? Good question.
A dik-dik is a small antelope that lives in the bushlands of eastern and southern Africa. These tiny critters stand about 12 inches and weigh roughly 7 lbs. Dik-diks are named for the alarm calls of the females. (“Dik-dik!”) Both the male and female dik-dik make a shrill, whistling sound to alert other animals that predators are in the vicinity.
A policeman in New York City stops traffic so a cat can carry its kittens safely across the street, 1925.
1925 was a whole different New York City. And 1925 had a whole different New York City police force. Here’s an old-timey officer stopping traffic so a cat can pass while carrying its kitten.
During this era in New York City history, immigrant families started moving into specific neighborhoods in and around Manhattan. Thus why we have Little Italy and Hell’s Kitchen. Though, the Immigration Act of 1924 severely limited the number of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Also, the 1920 census showed Brooklyn was the most populous borough over Manhattan.
Old photo of one of the famous gargoyles at Notre Dame.
Who doesn’t love gargoyles? They always remind me of the movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Gargoyle comes from the Latin word, meaning gullet or drain. This particular gargoyle is perched on top of Notre Dame Cathedral and oversees Paris. The gargoyle has a passageway inside that carries rainwater from the roof and out of the gargoyle’s mouth – making it look like it’s spitting on Parisians. In reality, the gargoyles prevent the deterioration of the cathedral’s masonry.
Gargoyles have been used throughout history. In Ancient Egypt, they took the form of a lion’s head. They could also be found in Greek temples. These types of statue spouts were even found in the ruins of Pompeii.
Doris Eaton Travis in 1920. She was a dancer, stage and film actress, dance instructor, writer and rancher, who was the last of the acclaimed Ziegfeld girls.
Talk about an old time hottie. Doris Eaton was the last of the renown Ziegfeld girls – who began performing on Broadway when she was 13-years old. In 1981, Eaton joined the Ziegfeld Follies and was the youngest cast member of the show. She performed in stage shows and silent movies throughout the 20s and 30s.
Later in life, Eaton took on a career as an Arthur Murray dance instructor and local television personality in Detroit. Being a Ziegfeld girl must be good for you health, Eaton lived to be 106 and died in 2010 – one month after her last performance.
Some very brave New York painters in the 1930s.
Before there were extreme sports and the X Games – there were guys like this in the 1930s who painted skyscrapers. Look at them just hanging there – like they were the most ordinary thing in the world.
Skyscrapers continued to grow in height throughout the 1920s. After World War I, a real estate boom occurred in the U.S. which caused a surge in the construction of new skyscrapers. A large part was improvements in technology. Building steel frames became efficient while improvements in elevator design made tall buildings easier to ascend without pesky stairs.
Two mummified cats found in Egypt, from around 1200 – 700 BC.
Cute. Cats are even adorable when they’re mummified. Cats were considered sacred in ancient Egyptian culture. Upper and Lower Egypt had a religion that centered on the worship of such animals as cats. Ancient cats were adored for controlling vermin and killing snakes. The domesticated cat was a symbol of grace and poise.
Animal mummification began in ancient Egypt and was a big part of Egyptian culture. The reasons they mummified cats were to allow their pets to go on to the afterlife or to act as offerings to a particular god. An Egyptian farmer in 1888 was digging in the sand near Istabl Antar – only to find a mass grave of mummified cats buried in pits at great numbers. Me-ow!
Death-defying mountain goats are seen climbing the steep dam wall in Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park. Wow!
To me, it looks like these mountain goats are kissing the dam wall in Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park. But they are climbing up the face of the wall. I mean, they don’t call them mountain goats for anything. But these extreme goats are grazing – they are licking the stones of the dam for their salts and minerals. Sure, there might be an easier way – but no one told these goats about it. Apparently, they have no fear of falling to a grizzly death.
These goats are skilled climbers because they live in very steep and rocky terrain at altitudes of up to 4,600m and have no fear of falling. So if you’re traveling in the region – look out falling goats could be possible.
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