20 Astonishing Photos Of Famous & Historical Figures

OMG July 9, 2018 By Hugo

History is a fascinating subject, full of wonderful and compelling imagery that has molded and shaped society and culture as we now know it, and that includes photos of historical and cultural figures. So sit back as we take you through a series of stunning photographs of famous individuals you're unlikely to have seen in a high school textbook.

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1.  Winston Churchill gets a light from a Frenchman, 1944

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Britain's greatest wartime leader was passing through the French town of Cherbourg with Major General Cecil Moore to check on reconstruction work in 1944 when an affable Frenchman offered a light to the then Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Visibly amused by the sight, a group of French workers can be seen smiling in the background.


2. Hermann Goring stands trial at Nuremberg, 1946

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The world's bloodiest conflict saw over 6m Jews exterminated by Nazi Germany in a six-year period that also cost the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. One of Nazi Germany's leading orchestrators, Hermann Goring, was a key leader in their military operations and was one of only a few leading Nazis to be persecuted for their crimes in a series of trials in 1946 that would come to be known as the Nuremberg trials. 


3. John Cleese and Michael Palin pose in bikinis, 1970

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Monty Python is one of Britain's most beloved comedy series, and it also achieved immense popularity abroad. Here, Michael Palin, clad in a fake beard, and John Cleese (center) pose for photographs in bikinis with a group of attractive women when filming an episode of Monthy Python in 1970.


4. Sean Connery signs a coconut for a little girl in Jamaica, 1962

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On the set of Dr. No, Sean Connery was the talk of Jamaica when filming took place there, and he wasn't afraid to mix it with the locals, as this endearing photo of the star signing a coconut for a little girl proves. 


5. Queen Elizabeth II shakes Marylin Monroe's hand, 1956

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Marylin Monroe arguably remains the most iconic person to be spawned from Hollywood post-WWII, and her fame quickly endeared people around the world, including Britain's monarchy. 


6. Joseph Goebbels reacts to being told the journalist is Jewish, 1933

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As the head of propaganda for the Nazi party, one of Joseph Goebbels's main priorities was embedding antisemitic rhetoric into the German media to bring down what many considered an elite Jewish coterie in Germany. Here, in 1933 his reaction to being told the journalist interviewing him is Jewish paints a vivid picture of his inner-xenophobia that he successfully instilled into many of his people.  


7. Louis Armstrong gives a private performance to his wife in Egypt, Cairo

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Louis Armstrong was one of jazz music's most celebrated musicians, and it wasn't long after his death that he became an icon. A leading jazz pioneer, the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Famer was pictured in 1961 performing the trumpet for his wife Lucille Wilson amidst the stunning backdrop of the Giza pyramids.


8. Sinatra and his dog

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Away from the hustle and bustle of jazz superstardom, one of America's foremost entertainers liked to unwind in the sequestered surroundings of his Palm Springs mansion, with his trusted canine companion Ringo.


9. The American writer Ernest Hemingway meets Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, 1960

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Ernest Hemingway, one of America's greatest writers, visited Cuba's leader Fidel Castro one day in May 1960. However, contrary to popular opinion of a lasting friendship, all photos you see online were captured the same day, and the two never met again. 


10. Charlie Chaplin and the Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, 1916

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In 1916, Charlie Chaplin's fame had skyrocketed, and he was considered by most to be the most famous man on Earth, Captured in the same year, this photo sees Chaplin pose in his Easy Street costume with fellow performers, including the Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who performed in Los Angeles during an American tour.

Nijinsky was also a global star, and the photo, which is essentially a celebrity snapshot, gives us a greater insight into the fame and fandom these two leading figures and early pioneers of Hollywood stardom experienced. 


11. James Bond author Ian Fleming and Sean Connery talk on the set of From Russia With Love

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Sean Connery is often considered the best James Bond, and it appears he was also a favorite of the character's creator, the British author Ian Fleming, who regularly hung out with Connery.


12. Elvis Presley partakes in military service duty, 1958

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Between 1958- 1960, Presley undertook his military service as a regular soldier after his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, refused to let him join the Special Services.

The logic behind Parker's counsel, was, of course, purely financial. By forgoing six weeks basic training to partake in two years military service instead, Presley would be exempt from performing to the troops. Performing to his fellow comrades wasn't an issue for Elvis, but the fact that it would be recorded and thereby become the property of Uncle Sam riled both Presley and his manager and convinced them that 2 years military service was a better alternative for his career which would eventually culminate in record sales of well over 1 billion. Parker, it seems, was right on the money with his decision.


13Audrey Hepburn goes shopping in Los Angeles with pet deer, Ip

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Audrey Hepburn needs little introduction, but her adorable friend does. The adorable photo is believed to have been taken in Los Angeles by Life magazine photographer Bob Willoughby who accompanied her on many films, including the 1958 flick Green Mansions, where Hepburn first met Ip.

The film saw Hepburn's character play an intrepid, nature-loving explorer who forges a special relationship with a fawn in the Venezuelan jungle. Thinking it would help Hepburn, her husband and director of the film, Mel Ferrer, recommended she take the fawn home with her to build up a believable bond.

It was a decision that clearly worked as it didn't take long for Hepburn to fall in love with Ip, as Harrison Carrol observed in an article she wrote for the newspaper The Day. "When I talked to her [Audrey] on the set, she was petting the fawn that will work with her in the film. It's a cute little thing. It lay contentedly in her arms, kept nuzzling her neck and trying to lick her cheek".


14. The murder of Sharon Tate

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Married to the film director Roman Polanski and pregnant with his child, everything seemed to be going just great for the actress Sharon Tate. She was living the dream and appeared destined to continue living it for years to come until Charles Manson directed his "family" of followers to kill her.

The late serial killer was actually indirectly responsible for the murders of seven people, which included the eight-month pregnant actress Sharon Tate. While not taking part in the killings, Manson was held accountable for instructing the murders, which were carried out by Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten.

Manson's motive was to start a race war between African Americans and white people by murdering residents in the wealthy, predominately white suburbs of L.A. and then blaming the killings on members of the black community. 

The 83-year-old eventually served over 40 years before he succumbed to his death in a hospital in Bakersfield, California last year, with this elegant photo of the beautiful actress thought to be the last captured image of the star alive before Manson's cult killed her.


15.  The Assassination of John Lennon

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Former Beatle, lauded solo musician and songwriter, and noted peace campaigner John Lennon is a household name but on December the 8th 1980, his life was cut short at the age of 40 as he returned to his New York apartment where he was shot four times in the back by a crazed 'fan' in what became one of the most famous assassinations of all time.

The killer was Mark David Chapman who had, earlier that day, stood outside Lennon's apartment and asked him to sign a copy of Double Fantasy for him, an album by John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, released earlier that year. This is the photo of Lennon signing the album for his killer earlier on that fateful day.


16. Ayrton Senna's final photo alive

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One of the most gifted Formula One racers of all time, Ayrton Senna was noted for his strong rivalries and daring moves on the track but in 1994, his life was cut short whilst leading the Monaco Grand Prix as his car slammed into a cement separating barrier that led to serious injuries of which he would later die of.

This photo shows Senna in the cockpit of his car before the race had begun as he surveyed the starting grid.


17. James Dean and his beloved Porsche 550 Spyder

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Hollywood heartthrob James Dean was just 24-years of age when he died in a car collision, robbing the world of an up-and-coming star. With a background in racing sports car, James Dean and his mechanic were trying out his new purchase at high speeds when a car turning blocked the road. Trying to pull a racing maneuver to avoid a collision, there was not enough space or time and so the vehicles collided, and the one Dean was in cartwheeled three or four times before coming to a halt.

This photo of James Dean and the Porsche 550 Spyder he died in were taken hours before the crash as he filled up on gas. The 'curse' of James Dean's car has almost become a recognized part of pop-culture as Dean himself with rumor of the wreckage going missing in a shipment container after being toured as a safe driving presentation and then, upon repair, the car suffering several other near-fatal and fatal accidents.


18. Elizabeth Taylor shares an intimate moment

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One of the most glamorous and successful stars of 1950s classical cinema, Elizabeth Taylor was a well-known public figure throughout her life, so there isn't many images or incidents about her that are known to the public but here is a one of with her arms around a male companion. 

Dressed down with her arms clasped around Richard Burton's shoulders, Taylor's celebrity was characterized as much by her love life as her acting, with the actress marrying 8 times.


19.  Bruce Lee in action during a training session with Yip Man

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Bruce Lee was an iconic martial artist and actor who passed away at only 33-years-old, and his reputation and legacy have lived on ever since, yet few know of the legendary teacher he trained with during his illustrious career.

Ip Man, also known as Yip Man, was a Chinese martial artist and specialized in the teaching of Wing Chun, a close combat form of martial arts native to Southern China. Under Man's guidance, several students would become martial arts masters in their own right, including his most famous student, Bruce Lee. 


20Betty Brosmer strikes a pose

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Fashion models and movie starlets dominated the world of female celebrity in the early to mid-1950s, but Betty Brosmer, later known by her married name Betty Weider, changed that trope when she gained widespread publicity as one of the first female bodybuilders.

The physical fitness expert posed for a number of photos during the 1950s, making her a popular commercial model and pin-up girl. 


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