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