Over the last century, photography has changed the way we view the world. While we can tell stories of ancient wars and people, we have little more than paintings or words to describe just what occurred. Fortunately, as photography became more and more prevalent, the moments in the last few decades, especially, have been saved forever. On top of that, the rise of the internet made it so that those photographs could be shared with the world. Many told the stories behind the pictures, while others had to dig and figure out just what was going on for context. Following are 20 of the most memorable moments in our history. The pictures aren’t the only things that are important here, the time period is as well. Each photo will send you straight to that particular period of time and remind you, or make you think about, what life was like for the individuals captured in time. Enjoy!
Raquel Welch on Gilligan’s Island?
While Raquel Welch didn’t land the role as Mary Anne on the classic Gilligan’s Island, this rare photo may give us some evidence as to the reasoning behind that choice. While Welch was a fantastic actress, Mary Anne was supposed to be the girl next door and Ginger would be the sex symbol. That would have been a tough balance with Welch playing the role of Mary Anne.
Skateboarders with Lynda Carter for the “Wonder Woman” episode “Skateboard Wiz”
Lynda Carter was an icon of her era. While we have a new Wonder Woman taking over the movie scene, Carter will always be remembered as a trail blazer. She set the standard for what a super hero show should be, and she did it as a leading female in a time that men still dominated the roles. In 1978, she did an episode of the show with a group of skateboarding kids, called “Skateboard Wiz.” In the episode, she had fight thugs that had been running an illegal gambling operation. But it was only possible with the help of one skateboarder with a photographic memory.
McDonald’s Opens in Moscow, 1980
For most of us, McDonald’s is just a quick stop to have a meal. It isn’t a big deal since they are everywhere. But in 1980, during the cold war, Russia (Soviet Union) had little in the way of American staples to spend their money on. There is an argument to be made that the introduction of McD’s was a spark that started the larger fire that lead to the fall of t he Soviet Union and the chain did so in a big way. The largest McDonald’s ever, at the time, was opened in 1980 in Moscow, were upwards of 30,000 people waited in line for a meal. The restaurant was able to seat 900 people and was a huge hit.
Before He Became The Tony Hawk
Back in the day of Dogtown and the Z-Boys, skateboarding was finding its place in culture and sports. A young kid named Tony Hawk brought a new level of fame when he pulled off a 900, which is two and a half mid air revolutions for the first time. This happened June 27, 1999 and gave skateboarding the jolt it needed to become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Hawk is still a household name today with a line of video games, merchandise, and numerous appearances on T.V.
Early Billy Joel
One of the pioneers of piano rock, if that is a title for the style of music, Billy Joel has had an illustrious career. As a native of New York, his songs tell the working class story of those he knew growing up. Alongside Elton John, piano became a mainstay of rock and went from a classical instrument to something that brought us songs like Piano Man and I’m Moving Out. Here, he shows his rebellious side early in his career.
Willie Doing What Willie Does
Willie Nelson is known for two things; a fantastic musical talent and career, and a frequent user of marijuana. This mugshot was taken after an arrest in 1974 when he was charged with possession in Dallas. This happened again in Texas in 2010, when his tour bus was pulled over in Sierra, Texas. From there he created the TeaPot party with the motto “Tax it, regulate it and legalize it!”
Arguably the Most Talented Beatle Visits Haight-Ashbury
Beatle fans will argue until they are blue in the face about which of the four members had the most talent. Harrison was the most underutilized according to those involved with The Beatles meteoric rise. That isn’t to say he did not have an amazing solo career after The Beatles broke up. Still, while with the band he was an extremely popular figure and when he visited Haight-Ashbury in 1967 with Patty Boyd, he made quiet the splash with the self proclaimed Hippies. Boyd recalls the experience:
“We were expecting Haight-Ashbury to be special, a creative and artistic place, filled with Beautiful People, but it was horrible – full of ghastly drop-outs, bums and spotty youths, all out of their brains. Everybody looked stoned – even mothers and babies – and they were so close behind us they were treading on the backs of our heels. It got to the point where we couldn’t stop for fear of being trampled.”
The Cast of Stand By Me
Easily one of the most impressive films of all time, Stand by Me left a mark on all that saw it. With Jerry O’Connell, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and River Phoenix showing their acting chops, this film had everything going by it. Rob Reiner directed the film, proving that he was soon to become a legendary director. Keifer Sutherland also appeared in the film, all of which moved on to successful careers, in the following years.
Bob Dylan Stands Up For Civil Rights
Dylan needs no introduction. On July 2nd, 1963, Dylan and Pete Seeger held a show in Greenwood, Mississippi in a cotton field to drive more people to a civil rights voter registration rally. Here, he hangs out on a porch with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which was one of the big players during the Civil Rights Movement.
The Kennedy family seems to have been cursed when you look at the amount of tragedy that has fallen on their family, but they did make the most of their lives. John Kennedy, Jr. is seen here on Labor Day Weekend in 1980 on Hyannis Beach. Through his life, JFK, Jr. started his own magazine, George, and appeared on an episode of Murphy Brown. With his looks, charms, and political background, who knows what the future would have held for him on the political stage. At this point, though, he was close to American royalty.
Jeff and Lloyd Bridges
Long before Jeff Bridges dropped famous lines such as “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” in The Big Lebowski, his father was making waves in Hollywood. Here he is with his father, Lloyd during Father’s Day. Jeff would get his start years later when he toured with his father in a stage production of Anniversary Waltz.
Hendrix Chilling in the UK
Hendrix is another huge musician to make it on this list. In his short life he made an enduring impact that still ripples through music today. He played a show on June 4th, 1967, which was attended by Paul McCarthy and George Harrison of The Beatles. As a sign of respect, and proof of just how talented Jimi was, he opened the set with his version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been released just days before.
A Sign of the Times
In 1951, a post war comedy called Love Nest made its way to theaters starring the fairly unknown Marilyn Monroe. At the time, America was extremely conservative about sex in media. In the film, which co-starred Jack Paar, a married couple purchases a run down building in New York which is full of unique tenants. In the movie, Manroe wore a swimsuit that cause such a backlash, that the scene had to be filmed on a closed set. Now, you can’t walk through a check out line without a woman in a swimsuit. In just a few decades we have seen a significant change in the way we look at acceptable images in American culture.
The King Gives Respect
Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, and Rodney Dangerfield, the guy that could get no respect, met on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1967. Their meeting happened as Dangerfield was rising as a comedian and Elvis was making a comeback after his special aired. The two were destined to change their respective industries, and it is rare that two names as big as these would meet at such pivotal moments in their careers.
The man that brought Eastern and Western entertainment together, happened to be one of the greatest martial artists of all time. He was such a legend that even today he graces the cover of health magazines. In addition, he was well known for many of his trademark movements and sounds, which are imitated today in pop culture and video games. Bruce Lee was so fast that cameras needed to record in unique ways and the playback would have to be slowed down to capture punches that he would throw for audiences. Truly a legend and trendsetter.
The End of a Decade
As the 70’s came to a close and the 80’s started to find its style, there were many crossovers that can be seen. The 70’s and 80’s had unique styles, but what most people don’t see is the evolution of that style. Here, in 1980, two men and their kitten (seems like the start of a film) hitchhike to a Willie Nelson concert in Austin, Texas, called Willie’s Picnic. This was the norm as many of these men were back home after the Vietnam War and looking to enjoy life and appreciate what they missed while overseas.
Tom Hanks’ Early Career
Tom Hanks is an icon in Hollywood these days. But early in his career he took on some rather unique roles. Here he is seen ready to fight the Fonz in full Karate gear. This wasn’t his only guest role as he also appeared on Family Ties as the families Uncle with a drinking problem, and other shows such as Taxi. He continued to find success, making his breakout role in the 84 film, Splash.
Before smart phones became the norm, school was a very different environment. Hawk eyed teachers would have to watch for kids passing notes during class. These notes varied a great deal. Some were just gossip, while others were boys asking a friend of a girl he liked if she liked him, or “like liked him” so he could build up the courage to ask her on a date. This was texting before texting was a thing. It was also extremely risky. In many cases, if caught, the teacher would read the note to the class, embarrassing the writer and the subject.
The Real Ip Man
Ip Man has been a name used in martial arts films for decades. Few, actually know who Ip Man actually was. In this picture, a young Bruce Lee stands next to the man. He was a master teacher of Wing Chun, which was one part of what would become Bruce Lee’s signature martial arts philosophy Jeet Kune Do. While they were very different ages, they died just seven months apart from each other in 1972.
The Golden Age of 80’s Film
Anthony Michael Hall is not as famous today as he was through the early to mid 80’s. While still well known, he was a superstar after appearing in The Breakfast Club directed by John Hughes. Hughes defined what early 80’s movies could be and continued to shape Hollywood until his death in 2009. His movies had a feel to them that had not been seen before. The kids were real. Doing things kids really did at the time, which was not only a breath of fresh air, but an eye opening experience for parents. The films were a hit with kids and adults alike, but most importantly they have stood the test of time, referenced today through multiple forms of pop culture and media.
Louie Armstrong brought jazz to the forefront of American’s minds. Also known as Satchmo, his voice, musical talents, and personality changed the face of music. A fan of, what he called “the gauge,” Satchmo was headed back to the States after a goodwill ambassador tour of Asia. He realized that he had left weed in his trumpet case and worried what would happen next. At that point, Vice President Richard Nixon, a fan of Armstrong, asked if he could carry his bags. Armstrong didn’t think twice before letting Nixon carry them through customs for him.
Betty Brosmer and Her Unreal Measurements
Betty Brosmer was a big deal in the 50s and 60s, becoming a pinup model, fitness instructor, bodybuilder, and movie star. She was also the highest paid supermodel of the 50s and entered and won over 50 beauty contests before she left her teens. With alarming measurements of 38-18-36, she set the standard at the time for the ideal female form. Monroe would redefine that shortly thereafter.
The Up and Comers of the 80’s
Each of the actors pictured here made a splash in the 80’s and most have continued to this day. Woody Harrelson became a household name when he replaced the titular Coach on the series Cheers, which helped him become highly sought after actor in films and T.V. The rest have all seen varying levels of success, though each is still recognizable today, decades after their start.
Pam Grier, The Beauty Pageant Winner
Before becoming Foxy Brown, Pam Grier started by winning a beauty pageant in the 60s. She would move on to star in classic blaxplotation films and become the first black woman to star in an action movie. Films included Coffy, Black Mama, White Mama, and Foxy Brown.
Janet Leigh and Daughter Jamie Lee Curtis at Studio 54
Jamie and Janet made their way to the hottest nightclub in New York City, if not the world, in the 70s. Studio 54 was the place to see the who’s who of Hollywood and the music industry. Andy Warhol, was of course always around, with other regulars such as Cher, Michael Jackson, and Mick Jagger partying the night away.
Kathy Ireland, The Model of the 80s
Kathy Ireland redefined what a supermodel would be through the 80s. She appeared in 13 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues in a row and became extremely wealthy with a current net work of $420 million. She had a few movie roles, though it never panned out to anything significant. Ultimately, she changed the way the world looked at women alongside other models such as Christie Brinkely and Cindy Crawford.
The Cast of “Next of Kin”
The film Next of Kin may not be a movie many people have heard of, but with Adam Baldwin, Patrick Swayze, Liam Neeson, and Bill Paxton in the film, it easily put some of the biggest stars of the last few decades together. While the film was not great from the start, it did give Swayze a nomination for Worst Actor by the Razzie Awards, which he lost to William Shatner for his part in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Emily Banks as Yeoman Tonia Barrows
Star Trek broke ground in how diverse the cast had become. But the cast wasn’t diverse for diversities sake, it was diverse because that was the vision of the future. No judgement based on race, gender, or any other identification. Emily Banks was best known as Yeoman Tonia Barrows on the series 1966 episode “Shore Leave”, though she had many other roles through the 60s and 70s including Airwolf, Bewitches, Fantasy Island, Dragnet and many other shows.
Catherine Bach Defining Photo Shoots
While Catherine Bach may not be a house hold name, she is best known as Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard. Her look on the show as so iconic, that an entire clothing article was named after her. Daisy Dukes are short-shorts that were extremely popular in the 70s and 80s and still show up from time to time. Most notably, Bach had her legs insured for $1 million. She now champions the issue with female objectification in Hollywood.
Just 1968 Things
In 1968 a man was photographed riding on top of a mattress truck in Atlanta traffic. We have seen crazy things over the years, but the way this guy looks as relaxed as can be shows just how different the 60s were versus today. This also happened to be the year that the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta and changed baseball going forward.
Jack and Anjelica at Home in ’71
In 1971 Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston were the power couple in Hollywood. Nicholson was a huge star with Easy Rider and Little House of Horrors among his many films. Huston, the daughter of John Houston, was a model that had recently moved to L.A. where she met and fell for Nicholson immediately. Their relationship lasted 17 years, which is a lifetime for Hollywood couples.
Hair! 80s Style
If you lived through the 80s, you remember the perms, the big hair, the Aqua Net. This was such an iconic style for the era that those that lived through it either had the hair, or had a friend with the style. Their children probably also remember their parents rocking this style if their grew up in the 80s. This was one of the defining looks and can arguably be attributed to a music video by Poison.
Janis Joplin Outside Her Home Town
Though her career was cut short, Janis Joplin was a trail blazer for what women could do in music. A mix of blues and rock put this Port Arthur, Texas native on the map. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see all she had to offer, but what she did offer the world changed the landscape of music forever.
Black Sabbath in ’72
Black Sabbath launched Ozzy Osbourne into the hard rock/metal spotlight. When formed in 1968 they brought a unique sound to the music industry and had staying power. Through multiple change-ups in the bands composition, they still stayed a popular band for years.
Chevy Chase and the Food Fight
In the 70s, Chevy Chase was about as cool as it got when it came to comedians. He went from a powerful comedian to a sensation when he joined SNL in its first season in 1975. Since then he has had his ups and downs through his career, but there is no mistaking just how talented Chase is, every time you see him on screen.
Tosh, Marley, and Jagger
Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, and Mick Jagger took this photo backstage of the Palladium on June 19th, 1978 during a Rolling Stones concert. The level of musical talent in this one picture is stunning. With the Stones still rolling, and Marley’s music still worshiped, the trio is legendary.
Nancy Walker and Her Bounty
Commercials were very different in the 70s. Huge stars became iconic when connected to a brand. Nancy Walker was well known for her time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda but to many, she will be known as the Bounty lady after her 20 year stint from 1970 to 1990 as the New Jersey diner waitress that put the “quicker picker upper” slogan in the collective consciousness.
Radner and Belushi in 1976
Gilda Radner and John Belushi were part of the first season of SNL and were part of what made SNL what it is today (or the better version depending on your views). Belushi started by doing an amazing musical impression of Joe Cocker while Radner played the character Roseanne Roseannadanna on her appearances on Weekend Update. Though they both left us early in their careers, their legacy carries on.
A “Small” Schwarzenegger
On the set of the 1984 film Conan, Andre the Giant and Wilt Champerlain put their size into perspective while holding up the 6 foot 2 inch Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Curlers of the 60s
Depending on where you shop, it seems people spend most of their time getting made up before going grocery shopping. In the 60s, women working as housewives spent their time multitasking. Thus, hair was being prepared in the iconic look of the time while the groceries were being purchased.
Stevie Nicks is an icon in the music industry. As the leading female vocalist of the long running Fleetwood Mack, few remember just how exciting she was early in her life. The flexible 5’1″ Nicks can be seen here backstage before a concert.
A Scary Dr. Pepper
Even Michael Myers of Halloween fame needs a quick drink at times. Actor Tony Moran knew just how iconic this character would be and enjoyed his role. This image is a little fun on the set as he gives the mask his sip of a Dr. Pepper in 1978.
Is Someone Trapped in the Well?
A certain generation will know of the young Jon Provost (Timmy) and his dog Lassie’s ability to communicate and solve problems in their sleepy little town. The show was a long running one (Sept. 12, 1954 – March 25, 1973) that captured the imagination of countless viewers. It is the fifth longest running show in U.S. prime-time television.
The Ageless Meryl Streep
Looking at Meryl Streep today, and seeing her as a high school varsity cheerleader in 1966 shows just how well she has aged. Starring in Sophie’s Choice was the beginning of one of the most impressive acting careers of any talent on the planet.
The Bologna’s First Name
One of the most famous songs for a product of all time was the Oscar Meir jingle. “My Bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R…”. Pictured here is Andy Lambros the child that made the song so famous, starting in 1974.
Where’s the Beef
This advertisement was one of the most effective ads of all time. Still studied in advertising and marketing today, Clara Peeler, the woman that was so famous for asking “Where’s the beef?” in Wendy’s commercials, is pictured here, curiously without any beef.
The First Stuntman
Before Johnny Knoxville changed how we viewed stuntmen, Evel Knievel became famous throughout the world for his amazing stunts. For his troubles, he ended up with 433 bone fractures with over 20 crashes. He even got in trouble with the Hell’s Angels. While they waited for him after a show, he simply got of his bike and walked towards them, where they prepared to beat him to a pulp, until the Angels learned what 150 adoring fans will do to those that mess with their hero. The Hell’s Angels did not mess with Evel again.
The Young Hitchhikers
Today, parents rarely let their kids play in the front yard unsupervised, but the 60s was a different time. A group of young hippies were hitch hiking through the US when this photo was taken. Soon, things would change with the rise of the Manson Family and other horror stories, but this was the carefree 60s and these kids were going places.
The ’70s Sensation
Kenner released a ton of toys throughout their career, but the Spirograph was likely one of the most popular. A simple toy that let users create symmetrical and somewhat psychedelic art, this kit was in almost every household in the ’70s.
A child star that started on One Day at a Time, Bertinelli grew up to be more well known for her romantic involvements. While she eventually ended up with Eddie Van Halen, at 15, she was linked to Paul Shaffer (27 at the time), the musical director of David Letterman’s show.
Maps, Not the Google Kind
Those that grew up in the ’80s and earlier likely have memories of sitting down at the kitchen table to plot a trip on a map. Over the course of the trip, many stops would be made to double check locations and make sure the trip was on the right path. It is a skill that is missing from those today, but it was part of the adventure before GPS.
A Different Planet?
Planet of the Apes was, and still is, a revolutionary film. While the end has been spoiled many times, Charlton Heston’s closing scene is unforgettable, even if you haven’t seen the film. Here is a behind the scenes photo with some of the cast of the 1968 classic.
Tom Petty is a legend in the music industry. This picture, taken in the ’70s, showed that even with his non-traditional looks, his style was unmistakable. While we recently mourned the loss of the man, his music still plays through speakers around the world non-stop. His impact went beyond just his band, as he teamed with some of the biggest names in music for the Travelling Wilburys.
There are two camps for monster sitcoms, The Munster’s and The Adams Family. Here, Al Lewis (Grandpa) shows off his car, the Drag-U-La, used in the ’64 T.V. show.
Elvis and Tina Louise
Elvis was interviewed by Tina Louise at Fort Dix in 1959 while he was in the military. Connected to a previous slide, Tina Louise is best known as Ginger on Gilligan’s Island. While these were more for publicity than anything else, the two are fondly remembered for their contributions to entertainment.
Fight for Your Right!
The Bestie Boys emerged in New York in the early ’80s mixing hip-hop and rock. Here, they are pictured early in their career before they took over the world as the legends Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock.