Disturbing Photos Show A Darker Side To History
By | January 6, 2023
Cliff House in San Francisco, 1907
History may be full of wonderful and exciting moments, but the following photos show just how dark the past can be. Even the most beautiful of these rare photos from the past contains something eerie if you look close enough.
You won't find these dark images or their stories in history books. As chilling as these photos are if you fully take them in you'll see a silver lining in their darkness. These recently uncovered photos will not only shock you, they'll provide insight into some of our darkest times. You'll see what life was really like in some of the lowest times in history which can really put today in perspective...
Each one of these eerie photos from the past shows a dark side to history, but they also show just how much better off we are today.
This beautiful home precariously perched on the cliffs north of Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California has a chilling history full of destruction. In spite of its beauty, the house has been through fires and awful moments when ships have run aground into the cliffs on which it sits. The first version of the house survived multiple catastrophes but it was a defective flue that turned the home to rubble.
On Christmas night 1894, the house was burned down after 31 years in existence all because the flue system wasn't working correctly. As the house burned manager J. M. Wilkens tried to rescue the guest register, a book that included the signatures of dignitaries from across the world, but he was unsuccessful and those names are lost to time. The house was rebuilt from the ground up in 1896.
Elvis Presley and Mary Selph riding on his 1971 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra-Glide motorcycle in Memphis, 1972
Elvis was in a bad way in 1972. At the time he was deep into the drugged out phase that led him to meeting with Richard Nixon in attempt to be deputized into the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous drugs (seriously) and turning his home into a kind of private getaway/surveillance state. As beloved as The King is, his final days in the 1970s definitely aren't his best.
At the time Presley was known for riding around Memphis in one of his many prized vehicles, be it a motorcycle or a car, but he was also busy taking karate lessons. Sadly, his health deteriorated rapidly the following year and he spent three days in a coma in 1973. Even so, he never really stopped performing.
Survivors of 1972 of the infamous Andes plane crash. The passengers resorted to cannibalism to survive 72 days in the snow
When Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed along the Argentine-Chilean border in the Andes on October 13, 1972, 29 members of the Uruguayan rugby team and their families were stranded. The group had little hope for survival but they did what they had to do to keep going for another day. During the 72 days that the were stuck in the Andes the group was forced to resort to cannibalism to survive.
Survivor Eduardo Strauch told NPR that as bad as the nearly three months were in the Andes, it was the first few days that were the worst:
As you can imagine, it has been the most awful, terrible days of my life. It was awful and long nights. We have a very small space. We were 29 people at the first. And we have no warm clothes, no water. We have to melt snow. It was very difficult because the weather was very cold. And the snow was all over the kerosene of the engines of the plane. We are surrounded with our friends, who died. And that first night was really impossible to describe.
Bob Ross in the early 1970s before the paint and before the afro
Even though he passed away in 1995, Bob Ross remains one of the most relaxing figures in the world of television. His series, The Joy of Painting, was one of the most watched programs on PBS that helped him launch an empire. However, after he was diagnosed with lymphoma he was confronted by his partners in Bob Ross, Inc., they wanted him to sign away the rights of his likeness and name for one percent of the profits.
Referred to as "Grand Theft Bob," Bob Ross, Inc. went into overdrive with the licensing of Ross' likeness following his death on July 4, 1995. Regardless of the fact that Ross made multiple changes to his will concerning his fortune in the months before his death, his estate was essentially locked out of any decisions about products featuring his name thanks to a lawsuit. In the 2010s an agreement was finally reached between Steve Ross and the family operating Bob Ross, Inc., that allowed Ross' name and likeness to be used as long as Steve could work in public under his own name without fear of being slapped with a hefty lawsuit. It's sad to think that such a messy situation came out of a guy who just wanted to show his viewers how to paint a few beautiful trees.
Erika Eleniak on the set of Baywatch
Known for her roles in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and Baywatch, Erika Eleniak had a rough go of it during her heyday in Hollywood. The star admits that when she had to act in a bathing suit all day she fostered an eating disorder as well as an addiction to laxatives. Things were so bad that she was hospitalized for abusing the product.
Eleniak says that leaving Baywatch was one of the best decisions she ever made, specifically because she was less worried about her on-camera weight during production. She later said:
My exit was Pamela Anderson’s entrance. I feel like she made the show. And I know they were thrilled to have her. So it just worked out really well.
The Hasanlu lovers died around 800 B.C. and were discovered in 1972
The majestic photo that makes everyone believe in undying love shows two skeletons in an embrace that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Discovered in Teppe Hasanlu, an area in northwest Iran in the 1970s, these remains were found in a building meant for storing grain. The question remains, why are these skeletons in this position.
In 800 BCE Teppe Hasanlu was burned to the ground by an invading army, although it's not clear who the army was. The entire population of the are was completely destroyed so it's likely that these two people passed away during the army's sacking. The image is both chilling and beautiful.
Princess Diana shakes hands with an AIDS patient without gloves, 1991
In the late 1980s Princess Diana made huge strides in changing the way that people thought about the AIDs crisis. At the time people were terrified that they would catch HIV from simply being in close proximity to someone with the illness, but Diana wanted to make sure that the people suffering from HIV were just like everyone else on the planet. After she opened the first HIV/AIDs unit at London's Middlesex Hospital she went out of her way to shake the hands of terminally ill patients in full view of the media.
Andrew Morton, the author behind Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words wrote of this meeting:
[By shaking the patient's hand Diana had] done more than anyone alive to remove the stigma surrounding the deadly AIDS virus… While she was not able to fully articulate it, Diana had a humanitarian vision for herself that transcended the dull dutiful traditional royal engagements.
Johnny Cash and his first wife Vivian Liberto with their daughters in the early 1960s.
Known as the "man in black," Johnny Cash lived a hard life full of intoxicants and late nights on the road. He earned the outlaw country signifier the hard way, and while audiences think of him of a rabble rouser of epic proportions he was also a family man. Sadly, it wasn't until after Cash left this mortal coil that we began to learn about the softer side of his private life.
My dad was full of laughter, full of joy and full of spirit. He would always rather laugh than cry, no matter what anybody else said, that’s the kind of guy he was. He had a great sense of humor and a great love. If I had to say one enduring trait he had, my dad was a very kind man. He was forgiving, he was loving and always gentle. That’s who he was and that’s what remains.
Marlene Dietrich being detained at a train station in Paris for violating the ban on women wearing trousers. (1933)
When Marlene Dietrich was traveling to France in 1933 she did so in her usual stylish way, but everyone wasn't happy about it. French authorities heard that she was keen on wearing a white pantsuit and they were furious. Parisian authorities made it known that if she set foot in France wearing trousers they were going to set her in manacles.
Not one to be bullied by a bunch of French police Dietrich put on her best suit, a men's coat, and a very cool beret and sunglasses before she stepped off the boat and took the chief of police by the arm and strode down the street. That's seriously cool. In case you were wondering, it was still illegal for women to wear trousers in France until 2013.
Little John F. Kennedy Jr. waiting for his Dad, President John F. Kennedy to land at Camp David, Maryland in October 1963
No child wants to watch their parents leave home, especially if they're literally flying away in a helicopter. Having a father who's the leader of the free world has to be hard, not only because he's incredibly busy, but because he literally can't take time away from the job to be there for you. It may be able to intellectualize now, but think about living through this as a child.
It's likely that the young Kennedy wanted to fly away with his father but that was never going to be possible. As the leader of the United States of America there are some things that he just had to do on his own. It's a shame that men of this stature have to choose between family and country, but it's the sacrifice that's made to be president.
At photo taken of Stalin inside of the Kremlin shows the very moment he was informed that Germany had began their invasion of the Soviet Union
It's rare that we get such a close look at one of the most well known political leaders of the 20th century in a compromised position. Taken within moments of Stalin learning that the German military had broken a promise to him and moved on Kyiv, he looks completely distraught. Taken by Komsomolskaya Pravda’s editor-in-chief, the photo was meant to be destroyed because it doesn't show Russia's leader in a positive light.
Stalin was certain that Hitler would never attack Russia because he felt that it didn't make sense for the German leader to fight on two fronts. The attack sent Stalin into a tailspin. He was so unsure of himself and what to do that he refused to issue orders until a collection of Soviet generals approached him and insisted that he lead the country.
Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, 1989
They may look like a comedy duo that's on top of the world, but this photo was taken less than a decade after Richard Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing. In 1980, the legendary funnyman was freebasing crack cocaine and ether when the drugs literally blew up in his face. It wasn't just Pryor who was burnt, the entire room where the event occurred was scorched.
At the time of the incident Pryor had first, second, and third degree burns on more than half of his body. Pryor allegedly ran a solid mile directly after the explosion, but he was found by police officers who didn't at first recognize the comedian. One officer told UPI:
He told me when I tried to get him to stop, 'I can't stop! I can't stop! I'll die if I stop'. I did not want to touch him for fear of injuring him.
Prior survived the incident, but he was never the same.
FDR using help to get out of his car, One of the few photos that show his paralytic illness
One of the most well known facts about FDR is that even while he was presiding over America during World War II he was struggling with polio. The disease rendered his legs nearly useless but he and his cabinet did his best to hide the fact in the press. His illness was an open secret but it was never used against him.
At home, FDR often made his way around in a small and durable wheelchair that he designed himself but in public he did everything he could to make himself look strong. When "walking" he often used a cane to balance one side of his body and the arm of an aide while swinging his legs to make it look like he was walking. Along with this strange maneuver he had the Secret Service on watch for anyone who was taking photos that could expose his illness.
Into the Jaws of Death, 6th of June, 1944
One of the darkest days of World War II occurred on June 6, 1944, when the Allied forces threw themselves into danger as they stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. Better known as "D-Day," this surprise invasion was a last ditch effort to take out the German military from France. As the Nazis had the high ground it should have been certain death for the Allied forces.
Obviously that wasn't the case. The Allied forces used every trick in the book to not only make it to the beach and take out the German military, but they did it with a minimal loss of life. These brave men soldiered into the jaws of death but many of them escaped to tell the tale another day.
Wedding rings that were removed from holocaust victims before they were executed
This chilling photo of a solider dipping his hand into a pile of rings removed from Holocaust victims is truly sickening. Some of the most upsetting photos from this era don't show the victims but rather their clothing, empty suitcases, and items taken from them before their deaths. As simple as these photos are they're hard to look at.
Every wedding ring here represents a home broken and a human murdered by the Germans. These are only a small portion of the thousands of wedding rings the Germans removed from their prisoners to salvage the gold at the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. U.S. troops discovered these rings along with watches, precious stones, eyeglasses, and even gold teeth fillings when they liberated the camp and freed 21,000 prisoners in April, 1945. Death already had liberated 70,000 who were starved or butchered during the Nazi reign of terror.
Titanic in dry dock in 1912 and the same dock in 2015
It's chilling to see the dock that held the RMS Titanic more than 100 years after the sinking of the mighty ship sitting still as if nothing had ever happened. Prior to the destruction of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, the ship was believed to be unsinkable. Or at the very least, it was believed that its maiden voyage would go off without a hitch.
Sadly that's not the case. As the ship crossed the freezing Atlantic in spring of 1912 - four days into the voyage - it ran smack dab into an iceberg that ripped its hull asunder. Close 1,500 people went down the ship on that night, but the dock remains the same.
Mobsters hide their faces at Al Capone's trial 1931
Al Capone was one of the most successful mobsters of all time. He managed to slip out of being prosecuted for masterminding the Valentine's Day Massacre, bootlegging, and extortion, but at the end of the day he was brought down for not paying his income taxes. When Capone was finally brought to trial he was charged with not paying between $26,000 to $100,000 between 1924 and 1928.
There were plenty of mafia figures at the trial, all of whom who did the best to hide their identities from the camera. Although if you just google "Chicago + 1920s + gangster" you can probably figure out who a few of these guys are. As far as Capone was concerned, he didn't even understand why he was on trial. He said:
I've been made an issue and I'm not complaining, but why don't they go after all those bankers who took the savings of thousands of poor people and lost them in bank failures?
A.A Milne with his son Christopher Robin and the original 'Pooh Bear' at Cotchford Farm, 1926
As loving as this photo may be, Christopher Robin and his father A.A. Milne had a contentious relationship throughout their lives together. In the 1970s, Robin happily told reporters that he was enthused to be a part of the legend of Winne the Pooh even though he faced intense bullying as a child for being his father's muse. It makes you wonder if that would have been the case had the character "Christopher Robin" had a different name.
Christopher Robin later touched on why his father used him as his muse, noting that it was a way for Milne to become a child again:
When I was three my father was three. When I was six he was six… he needed me to escape from being fifty.
16-year-old Brenda Spencer leaves court in Santa Ana, California, after pleading guilty to two counts of murder in a sniper attack 1979
On January 29, 1979, the unimaginable happened. That day Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old girl loaded her Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle and started picking off children waiting for their principal to unlock the gates of Grocer Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California.
Spencer fired 30 rounds during the chaos, wounding nine people and killing two. When a journalist finally got her on the phone during her shooting she explained why she was firing randomly at a group of children and it was absolutely horrifying. She explained:
I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day.
The girl was finally arrested after the shooting ended and she was remanded to prison for 25 years to life. As of this writing she's still locked up at the California Institution for Women.
Whitney Houston in her high school photo, 1981
It's sad to see a photo like this, of a young girl with so much life ahead of her, only to realize that she's going to meet such a dark end. After years of fame and fortune Houston descended into a life of drugs and alcohol that eventually ended in her death. It's hard to reconcile that with this photo.
She was found in the bathtub at a hotel in Beverly Hills on February 11, 2012. It's believed that she passed from accidental drowning due to a heart problem and drug use. The singer of "I Just Want To Dance With Somebody" is the last person that anyone would expect to pass in such a depressing way, but it shows that we rarely look after our most vulnerable.
Anne Frank’s father Otto, revisiting the attic where they hid from the Nazis. He was the only surviving family member
Otto Frank was the singular surviving member of the Frank family to survive the Holocaust, something that must have been painful to live with throughout his long life. As fascism encroached on Europe throughout the late 1930s he did his best to move his family out of harm's way. His biggest move was to take the Frank family to the Netherlands, but he didn't move them far enough.
It was clear to everyone in Europe at the time which way the wind was blowing, which is why Frank tried to immigrate his family to America in 1938. However when that didn't work he attempted to make the move again in 1941 but his request was denied. Richard Breitman, a professor of German history at American University, explains why the Frank family's attempts to escape Europe failed due to bureaucracy on the side of the Allied forces and the Axis:
The Frank family could have probably gotten out of the Netherlands even during much of the year 1941 but the decision to try hard came relatively late. The Nazis made it harder and harder over time and, by that time, the American government was making it harder and harder for foreigners to get in.
Jackie Kennedy taking a selfie in a mirror with husband John and sister-in-law Ethel, 1954
This is such a cool shot of President Kennedy, his wife, and his sister-in-law long before he was actually elected president. The same year that this photo was taken Kennedy was suffering from raging back issues. He had to have surgery to fuse his spinal disks, an incredibly painful ordeal.
Kennedy's back problems stemmed from the steroids that he had to take in the 1930s to get rid of his intestinal problems. This caused his vertebrae to degenerate at an extreme rate. If he didn't get the surgery he would have been confined to a wheelchair for his entire life.
Goldie Hawn in London, 1970. (Photo by Terry O'Neill)
Goldie Hawn rose to fame in the late '60s as the bubbly comic relief on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, but in the 1970s her star shone bright. Even though Hawn was all over televisions and the big screen in the '70s she was struggled to figure out who she really was. It can't be easy to find fame so quickly and then be forced to reckon with it.
It was a very strange ride, a quick rise to stardom. I was unsettled. I didn’t know where I was going. I went to the psychologist when I was 21 and I continued for about eight years to try to understand more about my mind, my psyche, how I could return back to my sense of joy.
A CIA case officer is photographed at a dead drop location in Moscow, 1962
For a spy to be caught in the act is one of the most harrowing things that can occur. During the Cold War the American and Soviet militaries were carrying out increasingly detailed forms of espionage that often centered on the dead drop. To carry out this brand of spycraft an agent would drop an item in a trash can or somewhere within the public eye where it could be easily retrieved by another agent.
The biggest problem with the dead drop is that an agent could be picked up the moment they dropped their item. They could also be photographed in the act which is almost worse than being picked up in the moment. This photo shows just how dangerous it was to be a spy during the Cold War.
One of the last known photos of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts
He was elegant, he was cool, and he was one of the greatest rock n roll drummers whoever sat behind the kit. Charlie Watts held down the beat for the Rolling Stones for nearly six decades, but sadly he passed away in 2021 after a battle with an undisclosed illness at the age of 80. This final photo of Watts is likely how he would have liked to be remembered, letting the beat swing behind the kit.
Watts, ever the relaxed elder statesman of rock, once said of playing the drums:
The very nature of playing drums is a nervous twitch, really. It's a cross between being an athlete and a totally nervous wreck.
20,000 Americans attend a Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden, February 20, 1939
In one of the darkest times of world history, Madison Square Garden in New York City was overrun by the German American Bund, a group that openly supported the Nazi party's rise in Europe. Held on George Washington's birthday, February 20, 1939, the event opened with people wearing Nazi armbands saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It's mind boggling to think that this actually happened.
These 20,000 pro-fascists weren't the only people in attendance, there were thousands out protestors outside Madison Square Garden made up of regular people who didn't want to see fascism come to America. The GAB pretty much fell apart in 1940 when the group's leader was indicted on embezzlement charges. Even then, as soon as America entered World War II these huge fascist groups essentially disappeared.
Soviet peasants listen to the radio for the first time, 1928
Imagine listening to the radio for the first time. Not as in the first time in the morning or the first time for a long time, but the first time after it was launched in your country. That's what this photo is showing and it's absolutely fascinating.
Launched in 1924, the Soviet radio station was initially operated by a joint stock company but in 1928 it was transferred to the People's Commissariat for Posts and Telegraphs. Lenin wanted the radio to be used as a kind of "paperless newspaper" to send out public information. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to wrap your head around listening to the radio when it was so new? It must have been brain melting.
A policeman in San Francisco scolds a man for not wearing a mask during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
During the pandemic of 1918 the world was turned upside down by what was dubbed the "Spanish Flu," a highly contagious form of influenza that decimated the population of the planet. Mask mandates were handled on a city to city basis, although popular port cities like San Francisco were expected to mask up because of the soldiers who were rolling through during World War I. Even at the beginning of the 20th century people were unsure about how to proceed.
This officer had the unwelcome job of making sure that people masked up during the pandemic. While there were laws in place they were hard to enforce, especially on the street in the middle of the day. Most folks ended up with a stern talking to over serving jail time or earning a ticket.
Anti British propaganda, Japan 1941
Both World Wars were filled with propaganda, and while we usually think of America, Britian, and Germany dishing out most of the propaganda they weren't the only countries doing it. Japan led an intense propaganda program where they dunked on Great Britain - and Churchill specifically - in their posters. The reason the west doesn't know about this program is because we weren't the focus.
Parthasarathi Bhaumik, assistant professor of comparative literature at Jadavpur University explained to Quartz India that Japan directed their propaganda towards South Asia to get their neighbors on their side during the campaign:
During the Second World War, the British and Japanese governments fought a fierce propaganda war in South Asia to influence mass opinion in their favor. They exploited all available media—wireless, film, print and live performances… The aim was to discredit the opponent and to project their own side as the true friend of South Asian people.
Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana at Kurt Cobain's funeral. Seattle, Washington
On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead in Seattle home days after he went missing. The Nirvana singer was the focal point of the grunge movement and his songs touched people from disparate backgrounds across the world. Even though he and the rest of the group were at odds in his final days it must have been an awful moment to live through.
While speaking with the BBC in 2019, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl explained that "In My Life" by The Beatles will always be special to him because it was played at Kurt Cobain's memorial service:
[In My Life] means a lot to me, because it was the song that was played at Kurt Cobain’s memorial. That day, after everyone had said their piece, this next song came over the speakers. And everyone got to celebrate Kurt’s love of The Beatles one last time together. Still to this day, when I hear it, it touches a place in me that no other song ever will.
In 1945, the Auschwitz death camp was discovered and liberated by the Red Army
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet military realized that the Germans were carrying out war crimes far worse than they could have ever imagined. On their march toward Oświęcim the Red Army discovered Birkenau and were hit with the reality that the Nazis had imprisoned thousands of people against their will. The Soviets were never ordered to liberated the concentration camps run by the Germans but it was their moral obligation to shut these misery factories down.
After the Soviets broke through the ranks of the German military the Nazis fled the camp leaving survivors to fend for themselves. Georgii Elisavetskii, a Red Army soldier who was one of the first to enter into Auschwitz remembers:
They rushed toward us shouting, fell on their knees, kissed the flaps of our overcoats, and threw their arms around our legs.
In Tombstone (1993) Val Kilmer had the art department fill his deathbed with ice which he laid on
Val Kilmer is so good in Tombstone that it's hard to put his performance in perspective. Sure it's a little campy, but everything he does as Doc Holiday feels so real that it hurts. It's likely that was the point, as Kilmer sought realism while playing the role of the doomed cowboy.
Kilmer's brooding energy in the film isn't just an actor doing his job. It's a painful performance because, well, he was in pain while he was performing. In Holliday's death scene Kilmer is literally lying on a bed of ice so he can be uncomfortable while he was acting - that's not just a commitment to a film that's a commitment to the audience.
George Carlin being arrested for violating Wisconsin's obscenity laws, July 21, 1972
When George Carlin debuted his most famous bit, "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" it sent America into a titter over what you can and can't say in public. Carlin's routine highlighted how silly it is to choose specific words to be "worse" than others out of the hundreds of thousands in the English language, but that didn't stop him from facing law enforcement at his shows. When he performed at Summerfest in Wisconsin in 1972 Carlin was promptly arrested for public indecency.
DJ Bob Reitman recalls the show and the fallout from Carlin's famous routine:
The cops there were enraged with Carlin. They were using a lot of those seven dirty words to describe him. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on him.
A group of frontiersmen with an advertisement. United States, Montana, 1901
As men traveled west to fulfill the dream of manifest destiny they did so alone. Sure, they had the company of other men, but these guys were thinking about settling down in new and undiscovered places with a wife and start a family. More often than not women were sent from Europe to essentially get married in a kind of blind date scenario.
As a kind of early version of the mail-order bride industry, the women who traveled to the wildnerness to marry helped ensure that the growing colonies continued to thrive. It was a dangerous way to travel and live, but it made sure that America became the massive country that it is. And to think it all started with this strange sign.
Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde, 1981
It's not easy to be in a rock n roll band. It's especially hard for young women in rock n roll when everyone else is either in the boy's club or a total creep. That's what Joan Jett says that she was dealing with when she met Chrissie Hynde during her days in The Runaways.
Jett spoke about her friendship with Hynde in 2018 with Sirius XM and she said:
We met in the Runaways days… it was great to be able to talk to another woman who was a musician. You know you don’t necessarily talk about anything different that you would talk to anyone else about… but there’s sort of a knowingness, where we both know what we’re talking about. She was very supportive… and the fact that she was having success proved to me that women can have success in America playing a guitar and front a band. She inspired me to keep going and said ‘Don’t get lost in this world of feeling sorry for yourself. It’s all fine and well… but pick yourself up and keep going.’
A man browses for books in the old Public library of Cincinnati. The building was demolished in 1955
From 1874 to 1955 one of the most beautiful buildings to ever be constructed in America played home to the Cincinnati Library. With a capacity of 300,000, the library cost $383,594 to construct which is about $7 million today thanks to inflation. Visitors saw five levels of library when they entered, it was truly a reader's paradise.
The main hall is a splendid work. The hollow square within the columns is lighted by an arched clear roof of prismatic glass set in iron, the light of which is broken and softened by a paneled ceiling of richly colored glass. One is impressed not only with the magnitude and beauty of the interior but with its adaptation to the purpose it is to serve.
Kubrick taking a photo with daughter Vivian, on the set of The Shining. Nicholson thought he himself was the photo’s subject
This chilling out of focus photo of Jack Nicholson that was snapped on the set of The Shining is only upsetting until you see director Stanley Kubrick and his daughter posing in the background. It's honestly kind of cute and funny that Kubrick punked Nicholson with this photo. If only the rest of the filming had been as fun loving.
The cast and crew was on the set of The Shining for a solid year, and Nicholson claims that he got most of his sleep in the car riding to and from set. That doesn't just drive people up a wall, it drives them crazy. At the end of the day the film has a haunting quality but it's clear that no one was happy (aside from Kubrick) while making the film.
A man guards his family from the cannibals during the Madras famine of 1877 at the time of British Raj, India
Between 1876 and 1878 the Madras famine gripped southern India, taking the lives of more than five million people. Caused in part by the huge drought that destroyed crops in the Deccan Plateau, the famine could have been stopped by the colonial government but instead they let the population languish. While people were falling down in the streets there were royal celebrations, something that's hard to fathom today.
Lord Lytton, the local Viceroy, had a massive stock of crops at his disposal and rather than feeding the locals he held a banquet for 60,000 people for Queen Victoria's coronation. After the passing of more than 5.5 million people the Famine Commission of 1880 came together and put together the Provisional Famine Code in British India. Sadly, many laborers left their homeland to become indentured servants on plantations in the British tropical colonies.
Las Vegas police facing Mike Tyson after he'd just bitten Holyfield's ear off
On June 28, 1997, one of the craziest moments in sports happened on live TV - Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear in the middle of a boxing match. While fighting in a rematch for the heavyweight title in the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas Tyson chomped on Holyfield's ear and everyone in the building went crazy. Police and officials filled the ring and tried to separate the two but it was horrifying for everyone involved.
Even outside of the ring people were losing their minds. Supposedly someone flipped a blackjack table and started snagging chips (which is wild), there was allegedly gunfire (no shooter was ever found) and Tyson was apoplectic. The two men made up years later, but for one night they were two of the most intense enemies ever.
A member of the Ku Klux Klan stands behind a police officer for protection, after a mob surrounded his Klan rally in Austin Texas, 1983
It's unfortunate that this scene of a Black police officer defending a member of the KKK at one of their rallies is somewhat commonplace. In 1983, this rally in Austin, Texas, sparked major protests and a violent response that required police to form a kind of protective circle around this bastions of hate. At the time, police donned riot gear and did their best to keep everyone from getting hurt.
Aside from the violence of the day protestors threw eggs and fruit at the members of the KKK to silence their hate speech. Multiple people were arrested for disorderly conduct but at the end of the day it was a zero sum game. It's truly depressing to see that something like this is still happening today.
Here's a World War I memorial in Hungary
In many cases war memorials tend to focus on soldiers or the generals who led an army through war, but this Hungarian memorial shifts the focus from those fought in a way to the loss that we all face. It shows a mother and her two children sitting with an empty space where their father should be. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
This devastating memorial is hard to look at but it's clear that it was made to remind Hungarians about the real cost of battle. It's hard to look at this without thinking about all of the people lost in the needless violence of war. It's not just a memorial for Hungarians, it's a memorial for the world.
A pit pony (or mining horse) was a horse, pony or mule used underground in mines from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century.
As bad as the conditions were for coal miners in the 19th century, they were all the more horrific for the pit ponies who were tasked with working underground. The first pit ponies were put into work in the Durham coalfield in 1750. However, they were really put to work when agroup of children working in the Husker Colliery drowned in 1838.
There was public outcry following the deaths of these children on July 4, 1838, that ended in the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842. This act kept women and children under the age of 10 from working underground. After the law was passed horses picked up the jobs but it didn't end Britain's use of child labor.
Adam West and Yvonne Craig on the set of the TV series Batman (1966)
When the third season of Adam West's Batman came to television in the late '60s, Yvonne Craig joined the cast as the young Barbara Gordon who happened to moonlight as Batgirl. Craig says that she was in a bit of a rut at the time with nearly constant one-off appearances on television but no solid work. When it came time to audition for Batman she simply did it because she needed to work.
Craig later explained that she had no idea what the show was about when she was cast:
I had never seen the show, even though everyone was crazy about it. Even when I was shooting Batman, I had a black and white TV. I’m a book reader and not much of a TV watcher, so I just didn’t pay attention. The producer, William Dozier, said, ‘I’m sure you’ve seen our show,’ and I said, ‘Actually, I haven’t, but if I get the part I’ll spend the summer watching re-runs so I know how I’ll fit into the scheme of things.’
Aerial view of Las Vegas in 1947
Following World War II Las Vegas began to take shape in a way that was thoroughly pleasing to the local tourism industry. By 1945, the city was already home to chorus girls, but it was more of a hub for the mafia than it was for camera toting families on vacation. That point became undeniable when Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946.
A year after this photo was taken the Las Vegas Strip was a hive of activity even as the city was facing massive water shortages. In 1949, the Las Vegas hospital ran out of water thanks to the city's massive expansion, leaving everyone inside in danger of dying of thirst. As dire as this moment was in Las Vegas' history it wouldn't be long before the city was generation massive amounts of profit every year.
An Anti KKK Group Called the Knights of the Invisible Jungle of the Tiger's Eye, circa 1921
In Buffalo, New York, a group known as the Invisible Jungle, Knights of the Tiger's Eye was put together to fight back against Ku Klux Klan activity throughout the country. The group sought out members from across racial and religious divides who were interested in busting the hate group's activities. They made use of similar secret meetings and outfits as the KKK but with an almost ironic demeanor.
The group is believed to have played a part in the theft of the Buffalo wing of the Klan's archives in the early 1920s. A list of the group's activities and members was given to the Buffalo police and it was put on display at Buffalo HQ. The group is believed to have disbanded but it seems that they disappeared just as quickly as they appeared.
An anti-communist revolutionary holds a Molotov cocktail behind his back during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
This photo of a man preparing to light and presumably toss a Molotov cocktail is one of the chilling images of the 1950s. Taken at the height of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, it shows just how far people were willing to go to push the Soviet Union out of their country following World War II. The revolution only lasted for a few months but it was brutal.
Students began the revolution by marching through central Budapest to the Hungarian Parliament Building. Initially they just wanted to broadcast their demands over the radio, but once they were detianed extreme violence ensued. Over the course of the summer and autumn of 1956 the Hungarian government fell apart and the Soviet Army moved in to crush the rebellion.
Anti NAZI demonstration in Berlin 1932
We often think of Germany as a country besotted with fascist ideals following World War I and into World War II, but that's not entirely the case. In the 1930s there was a large contingent of Germans who were against Hitler and the rise of fascism. In America and England people went so far as to boycott German goods.
It's discouraging to realize that there was such a virulent anti-fascist contingent in Germany at the same time that Hitler was rising to power. Even though this group of people did everything they could to stop the Nazi party from taking over Germany they couldn't stop this horrible group's power. Sadly these citizens had to witness their country being torn apart just over a decade later.
Cesar Romero doing his makeup as 'The Joker' on the set of TV series Batman (1967)
For many, Cesar Romero will always be the ideal version of the Joker. He took the role on the 1960s version of the Batman series on the one condition that he wouldn't have to shave his mustache, which is why the character's face always had an interesting kind of makeup. Even though he was behind the beloved character and he had his way in the contract, Romero always knew his role.
While speaking about Batman in the 1960s, Romero explained that as much fun as he has being a bad guy he knows that the series isn't all about him:
It's a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun doing this show, and we had a lot of fun making the movie. It's a part that you can do everything that you've always been told not to do as an actor. In other words, you can get as hammy as you like and go all out. It's great fun, I enjoy it.
Chief Dust Maker, from the Ponca tribe in northern Nebraska, 1898. (Photograph by Frank Rinehart)
Taken in 1898 by Frank Rinehart, this photo shows just one of his Native subjects in the glory and splendor that audiences have come to think of when we think portraits of American indigenous people. Rinehart started photographing Native Americans at the end of the 19th century in Omaha, Nebraska. By the turn of the century he was tapped by the U.S. government to photograph the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha.
At this event nearly 500 Native Americans were photographed against simple backdrops and in staged conditions. Some of the indigenous people, like Dust Maker, are clad in ceremonial outfits while others wear very little. Rinehart's photos provide a rare insight into the native people of this era.
CIA agent Felix Rodriguez (left) and Bolivian soldiers pose with Che Guevara moments before his execution. Bolivia, October 9, 1967
This dark moment in history, the execution of Che Guevara in 1967 in Bolivia is made all the more surreal by this photo taken just before the revolutionary took his last breath. After his capture, Guevara was trailed by Cuban CIA agent, Félix Rodríguez who wanted to keep the man alive. Sadly his protestations were shut down by the Bolivian government.
In 2017, Rodríguez explained exactly what happened moments before this photo was taken:
I gave my own camera to the pilot and I said to Che, ‘Comandante, look at the birdie.’ He started to laugh because it’s what we say to children in Cuba: ‘Look at the birdie.’ I even think he was still laughing when the photo was taken, but, obviously, he changed his expression to the one you see now. I was in Special Forces uniform but without any badges. I was just 26 then. He was 39. He looked like a beggar. His clothes were worn and filthy. He had no boots, just pieces of leather tied to his feet. His hair was bedraggled. To be honest, sometimes I would be speaking to him but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was telling me. I had never seen him in person before, but I remembered photos of him from a visit to Moscow with the Russians and when he visited Mao Zedong in Beijing – photos of an arrogant man in those coats. And to see him now looking like a beggar. It made me feel sorry for him.
High school teacher John T. Scopes is brought to trial in Dayton, Tennessee for teaching the theory of evolution, July 10, 1925
John Thomas Scopes was just a teacher in Dayton, Ohio in 1925 when he was charged with violating the Butler Act. This was a Tennessee specific law that specifically prohibited against the theory of evolution being taught in schools. Scopes was courted by the ACLU to see if he wouldn't mind being arrested for nothing more than teaching and he accepted the challenge.
Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in May and he went on trial in July 1925. He later admitted that he was mostly used as a sacrificial lamb while lawyers on both sides went at each other over the teaching of evolution. At the end of the day Scopes was charged with a whopping $100 fine.
Indigenous Residential School Students Being Forced To Pray Before Bed
This disturbing photo was taken in one of the dormitories at the Canadian Indian Residential School system, a collection of learning facilities with a frightening reputation. Stories of abuse and even death were rampant at these schools. Unfortunately most of the people who could have stopped this behavior turned a blind eye to everything that was happening.
While these schools were in operation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries those who were in charge didn't understand why the indigenous population didn't appreciate the "opportunity" for their children. One report from the time read:
The Indians do not, unfortunately, seem to show any great appreciation of what we are trying to do.
An undercover police officer on duty. New York, Brooklyn, July 1, 1969
The life of an undercover police officer can't be easy, and in the 1960s things were changing in the streets so this cops had to be prepared for anything and everything. This officer is doing their best to blend in with the underground world of the 1960s in New York City but they kind of stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn't help that there's someone taking a picture of them.
One thing to keep in mind about this photo is that New York City at the end of the '60s was anything but the flower power mecca that the west coast was. It was a down and dirty spot where Andy Warhol and grimy rock n roll rained, but it was also full of some nasty drugs. The only way for the police to get into the scene was to go undercover, even if they had to change to look to something outlandish.
Patrick Swayze, 1979.
Long before he was the stud from Dirty Dancing and The Outsiders, Patrick Swayze was studying formal dance at both the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet schools. This shot was taken right around his film debut in Skatetown, U.S.A. It was a small role but it started the snowball of his career.
Swayze didn't immediately become the big man on campus on the big screen, but he did pop up in everything from an episode of M*A*S*H to a disco themed commercial for PBR. It was just the beginning of his career, but in a few years he became one of the most beloved actors of his era thanks to his work with Francis Ford Coppola. It's hard to imagine that he was ever this young.
The cast of Three's Company at an event in 1979 Audra Lindley, Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, Don Knotts and Norman Fell.
Even though they look like one big happy family the stars of Three's Company were anything but by 1980. Following the fourth season of the series Suzanne Somers asked for a bump in pay up from $30,000 to $150,000 so she could be on the level with her co-star John Ritter. Rather than give her the pay increase Somers was fired by ABC.
Former producer Alan Hamel, Somers' longtime husband, told People that ABC used her to keep other actresses from doing the same thing:
Laverne & Shirley had just negotiated a monster deal, and afterwards, they decided they needed to make an example of female actresses so that no other woman would ask to be paid what men were making. And then [Suzanne] was fired.
The discovery of the statue of Antinous in Delphi, Greece back in 1894.
This chilling photo of a half formed statue poking out of the ground may be chilling, but it's a snapshot of the discovery of the Statue of Antinous. Excavated on July 1, 1883, this statue is almost entirely intact which is an incredible find. At some point the statue's arms were removed, but other than that it remained in pristine condition.
The statue was later buried by the followers of Antinous in order to preserve it as well as they could. At the time, Christian zealots were wiping the country clean of anything that harkened back to the old gods and the statue had to be hidden before it was destroyed. It's amazing to see that this statue survived such a dark period in history.
The O’Halloran sisters fought off the officers who were evicting their family during the Irish Land War, armed only with poles and boiling water, 1887.
The Second Irish Land Act of 1881 was meant to provide tenants with rent reductions as well as the possibility of ownership of their homes. The O'Halloran family were paying £31 for their rent which was dropped to £22, a sum that they thought was unfair because of it was more than their grandfather paid when he was staying in the house. Because of this they took part in a rent boycott and they fought against eviction.
The local authorities didn't take it well and they attempted to forcefully remove the O'Halloran's from their home. While their brother and parents barricaded their home, the four girls pictured here poured scalding water on the authorities and stole one of their weapons. In 1909 the O'Halloran's were finally allowed to buy their home.
A German-Jewish WW1 veteran wears his Iron Cross while a Nazi soldier stands in front of his shop for intimidation - 1933
In January 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed as the country's chancellor thanks to Franz von Papen. He believed that the Nazi leader would help keep communism out of Germany. His plan worked but it didn't take long before Hitler started amassing a ridiculous amount of power thanks to what he believed was a "God-given signal."
It didn't take long for the rise in fascism to lead to a nationalist attitude that persecuted the Jewish people in Germany and surrounded countries in Europe. The move to put Hitler into the upper echelons of the government began the country's fast decline into Nazism, one from which it would take a world war to end. This photo is just a small ramification of those events.
Charles Bronson on the set of the film The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Today we think of Charles Bronson as one of the most macho guy on the big screen, but when he appeared in The Magnificent Seven he was just another character actor. Sure he looked good, but he was no one compared to Yul Brynner or any of the other stars of his day. However, his relaxed air and rough voice are what made him a star.
Bronson became a mainstay in westerns and war films, but he was always the most soft-spoken tough guy in the room. It's likely that this came from the fact that when he was growing up he had to wear his sister's hand me downs to school. That's certainly something that would make any guy tough.