The title sums it up pretty well, you will see here pictures that are famous or not, but which are all interesting.
Each of them comes with a very interesting story, so take some time reading it!
Rockefeller gives Middle Finger
Today “Liberal Republican” is an oxymoron, but in the 70s and the 80s, they did exist, Nelson Rockefeller was their leader.
Elected four times as governor and one of America’s wealthiest politicians, Rockefeller resigned in 1973 to devote all of his time to a potential presidential run in 1976.
But when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in disgrace after pleading guilty to not paying taxes, Rockefeller called Nixon and asked for the vice presidency.
Nixon decided instead to appoint House Minority Leader and Michigan congressman Gerald Ford. After Nixon’s resignation Gerald Ford was sworn in as President.
Ford offered the Vice Presidency to Rockefeller. Knowing that he would not be the nominee for president in 1976, Rockefeller relaxed and enjoyed his duties as vice president.
This attitude was caught on camera, above in Binghamton, NY.; A heckler was shouting insults and Rockefeller leaned over the podium and gave him the finger.
The picture appeared in newspaper across the nation, the public opinion was divided: some criticizing it as a crude gesture, but others admitting that it was nice to see politician who wasn’t afraid to show just what he really meant.
Shortly after taking office both Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Rockefeller had been diagnosed with cancer and had to have mastectomies. It was major headline news and focused the nations attention on the dangers of breast cancer.
Then when California’s former two-term governor Ronald Reagan announced that he would be a candidate for the Republican nomination, Ford had to appease the conservatives, and replace Rockefeller was replaced on the ticket with Senator Robert Dole of Kansas.
It was a rally for Dole in Binghamton that Rockefeller hold up his middle finger with ’sneering, Satanic expression’. For him, not running for reelection again, the defiant middle finger was a kind of declaration of independence freeing him from the unspoken rule that politicians must always flatter the audience and ignore the hecklers.
He retired soon after; Rockefeller could have died with the respect, but it was reported that his fatal heart attack was induced by a more than the usual late night ‘office work’ with a young female associate.
The Marlboro Man
He was the Most Influential Man Who Never Lived.
Though there were many Marlboro Man models over time until 1999 (factoid: but only three of them succumbed to lungs cancer), the original inspiration for the Philip Morris cigarette advertising campaign came through Life magazine photographs by Leonard McCombe from 1949.
Clarence Hailey Long (above) was a 39-year-old, 150-pound foreman at the JA ranch in the Texas panhandle, a place described as “320,000 acres of nothing much.”
Once a week, Long would ride into town for a store-bought shave and a milk shake. Maybe he’d take in a movie if a western was playing.
He was described as “as silent man, unassuming and shy, to the point of bashfulness [with a] face sunburned to the color of saddle leather [with cowpuncher's] wrinkles radiating from pale blue eyes.
” He wore “a ten-gallon Stetson hat, a bandanna around his neck, a bag of Bull Durhamtobacco with its yellow string dangling from his pocket, and blue denim, the fabric of the profession”. He said things like,
“If it weren’t for a good horse, a woman would be the sweetest thing in the world.” He rolled his own smokes.
When the cowboy’s face and story appeared in LIFE in 1949, advertising exec Leo Burnett had an inspiration.
Philip Morris, which had introduced Marlboro as a woman’s cigarette in 1924, was seeking a new image for the brand.
The image managed to transform a feminine campaign, with the slogan “Mild as May”, into one that was masculine in a matter of months.
The “Marlboro Cowboy” and “Marlboro Country” campaigns based on Long boosted Marlboro to the top of the worldwide cigarette market and Long to the top of the marriage market: Long’s Marlboro photographs led to marriage proposals from across the nation, all of which he rejected.
By the time the Marlboro Man went national in 1955, sales were at $5 billion, a 3,241% jump over the previous year.
Over the next decade, Burnett and Philip Morris experimented with other manly types — ball players, race car drivers and rugged guys with tattoos (often friends of the creative team, sporting fake tattoos); all worked, but the Marlboro Man worked the best. By the time the first article linking lung cancer to smoking appeared in Reader’s Digest in 1957, the Marlboro sales were at $20 billion.
Before the Marlboro Man, the brand’s U.S. share stood at less than 1%, but in 1972 (a year after the cigarette ads were banned from American televisions) it became the No. 1 tobacco brand in the world.
German bombardment of the Kremlin
Unlike most photographers, she was as famous as her pictures. Margaret Bourke-White was an institution, and personification of the formative years of LIFE magazine.
The images she captured are memorable enough on their own: a line of flood victims in Kentucky stretched in front of a billboard braying prosperity; Gandhi at the spinning wheel.
In July 26th 1941, she became the right person at the right place as the German bombardment of the Kremlin began.
She was the only foreign photographer in Moscow–she was dispatched there because one of the Life editors, Wilson Hicks, believed that Germany would invade the Soviet Union soon.
Although the Soviet officials had announced that their soldiers would shoot anyone spotted with a camera, Bourke-White was granted an exception.
On the night of July 23rd, she went up the American embassy roof where the Soviet air wardens couldn’t see her. At one point, a bomb exploded nearly, blowing every window of the embassy. Bourke-White had the sense to seek the shelter just seconds before.
The above most picture showed the spires of Kremlin silhouetted by German Luftwaffe flare, with the antiaircraft gunners dotting sky over Red Square.
The second showed the Kremlin lit up by flares from anti-aircraft shells and seven Nazi parachute flares which provided light for German bombardiers.
Edward and Wallis with Hitler
In 1936, Edward VIII abdicated to marry the woman he loved, a divorcee Mrs Wallis Simpson.However, the Guardian claimed that the king’s decision was due to Mrs. Simpson being a Nazi sympathizer and this was totally unacceptable to the prime minister at the time, Stanley Baldwin.
The former Austrian ambassador, Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, who was also a second cousin once removed and friend of George V, believed that Edward himself favoured German fascism as a bulwark against communism.
In 1941, while they were holidaying in Florida, the exiled former king and his consort, now the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor, were spied upon by the FBI on the orders of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
These FBI files, written in the 1940s and now released under America’s Freedom of Information Act, detailed that the Duchess might have been passing secrets to a leading Nazi with whom she was thought to have had an affair and that His Majesty’s Government had known for the fact for some time.
Following Edward’s accession, the German embassy in London sent a cable for the personal attention of Hitler himself. It read: “An alliance between Germany and Britain is for him (the King) an urgent necessity.”
In October 1937, the Windsors visited Nazi Germany, met Hitler at his Obersalzberg retreat (above), dined with his deputy, Rudolf Hess, and even visited a concentration camp.
The camp’s guard towers were explained away as meat stores for the inmates. The visit was against the advice of the British government and during the visit the Duke gave full Nazi salutes.
At the outbreak of war, the duke served as a military liaison officer in Paris. Hitler made an abortive attempt to bring Edward and his wife to Nazi-sympathetic Spain, and greatly alarmed, the British establishment finally packing the duke off to the Bahamas from 1940-45.
Deeply disenchanted by the society that had spun him, the Duke made his Nazi sympathies explicit, once telling a journalist that “it would be a tragic thing for the world if Hitler was overthrown”.
In another break from his usual unassuming boyish behavior, he remarked, “After the war is over and Hitler will crush the Americans. We’ll take over. They (the British) don’t want me as their King, but I’ll be back as their leader.”
After the war, the duke and duchess returned to France. He died there in 1972, while the Duchess lived on until 1986.
Carter kisses Brezhnev
In ‘76, Democratic nominee for president, Jimmy Carter criticized detente and claimed he would drive harder bargains with Leonid Brezhnev than Gerald Ford had done.
Ronald Reagan, who was contesting the Republican nomination, said the same thing, only more vociferously. Going into a defensive crouch, Ford passed up a chance for a strategic-arms pact that year and may have cost himself the election.
Jimmy Carter won the election, but continued the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks started by the previous Republican administrations.
SALT II was a nuclear arms treaty which attempted to reduce all categories of delivery vehicles on both sides to 2,250. SALT II helped the U.S. to discourage the Soviets from arming their third generation ICBMs.
An agreement was reached in Vienna on June 18, 1979, and was signed by Leonid Brezhnev and Carter. This opened a “window of vulnerability”, opposed by many hawks from the both sides of the aisle in Congress.
Carter had to appease the conservatives with 200 MX missiles in 4600 silos costing the government $33 billion.
Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union deployed troops to Afghanistan, and in September of the same year, senators including Henry M. Jackson and Frank Churchdiscovered the so-called ”Soviet brigade” on Cuba.
In light of these developments, the treaty was never formally ratified by the United States Senate. When the 1980 Presidential Election came, the Reagan campaign made devastating use of the above photograph of Carter embracing Brezhnev at the summit meeting where the arms pact was finally signed, adding a caption, YOU, TOO, CAN KISS OFF CARTER.
The voters obliged.
A Nazi Funeral in London
The above extraordinary photo captured in April 1936, showed the funeral of the German Ambassador Leopold Von Hoesch, with the people clearly giving the Nazi salute on the balcony of the Germany Embassy on Carlton House Terrace, overlooking The Mall.
The above image and footage were unearthed for the Discovery Channel programme: ‘Wartime London with Harry Harris’, a London cab driver and historian who has driven a taxi for two decades.
It is the only known color photograph of Britain’s King Edward VII
It was the only known color photograph of Britain’s King Edward VII. Found in April 2009 in a cupboard in Exbury, the informal portrait, which shows the monarch dressed in a kilt and full highland costume.
It was taken in September 1909 by a close friend Lionel de Rothschild, a banker and Conservative MP, who invited the king to one of his regular trips to Scotland for the autumn grouse season, at Tulchan in Strathspey, 15 miles from Balmoral.
The portrait is thought to be one of the last pictures of Edward, who died eight months later.
Bourke-White at Buchenwald
At the end of WWII, impending Allied victory was sobered by the grim facts of the atrocities which allied troops were uncovering all over Germany.
Margaret Bourke-White was with General Patton’s third amy when they reached Buchenwald on the outskirts of Weimar.
Patton was so incensed by what he saw that he ordered his police to get a thousand civilians to make them see with their own eyes what their leaders had done.
The MPs were so enraged they brought back 2,000. Bourke-White said, “I saw and photographed the piles of naked, lifeless bodies, the human skeletons in furnaces, the living skeletons who would die the next day… and tattoed skin for lampshades. Using the camera was almost a relief.
It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.”
LIFE magazine decided to publish these photos in their May 7, 1945 issue many photographs of these atrocities, saying, “Dead men will have indeed died in vain if live men refuse to look at them.”
The Execution of Leonard Siffleet
Australian Sergeant Leonard Siffleet was part of a special forces reconnaissance unit in New Guinea, then occupied by Japanese Imperial forces. He and two Ambonese companions were captured by partisan tribesmen and handed over to the Japanese.
All three men were interrogated, tortured and confined for approximately two weeks before being taken down to Aitape Beach on the afternoon of 24 October 1943. Bound and blindfolded, surrounded by Japanese and native onlookers, they were forced to the ground and executed by beheading, on the orders of Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada.
The officer who executed Siffleet detailed a private to photograph him in the act. The photograph of Siffleet’s execution was discovered on the body of a dead Japanese soldier by American troops in April 1944.
As a part of a propaganda effort, it was published in many newspapers and in Life magazine but was thought to depict Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton, VC, who had been captured in Salamaua, Papua New Guinea, and beheaded on 29 March 1943.
The photo became an enduring image of the war.
Jackie Kennedy at JFK’s Funeral
Think of Elliott Erwitt, and the iconographic image that probably comes to mind is his photograph of a small, anxious chihuahua dwarfed by the boots of his owner and the colossal front feet and legs of a Great Dane.
While the observant and eclectic eye of Erwitt (one of the last surviving photojournalists of that Golden Age of photojournalism) has often explored life at its most humorous, leading critics to label him as photography’s greatest comic, one has only to turn to another famous image to see a completely different side of Erwitt.
At her husband’s funeral, Jacqueline Kennedy clutches the flag that draped his coffin to her chest as Bobby Kennedy looks on. Despite the black veil behind which she retreated to preserve a fragment of her privacy, Erwitt collides head on with the poignancy of a woman so lost in grief and confusion that the intimacy of the pain he captures pierces the viewer to the core.
It was one of the most memorable records of America’s national ordeal, not only Erwitt’s only memorable funeral image: earlier he had portrayed Robert Capa’s mother weeping over his grave.
The 40th anniversary of the Russian revolution
Born in Paris to Russian parents, and educated in America, Elliott Erwitt took up photography before being drafted into the US Army in 1950.
He made his name with photo-essays on barracks life in France then joined Magnum and travelled the world, capturing famous faces and places and producing quirky studies of dogs.
In 1957, Erwitt was covering the 40th anniversary of the Russian revolution for the American magazine Holiday.
It was when the first Sputnik was launched; his photographs of a lecture at Moscow’s planetarium appeared on the cover of the New York Times magazine.
Up to that point, no western journalist had managed to get pictures of the October anniversary parade (no foreigners were allowed to take part in the parade) but Erwitt tagged along with a Soviet TV crew and managed to pass five security lines, setting up his camera right by Lenin’s mausoleum: “Although I was questioned by a guard, I was able to convince them that I belonged to the parade.
I shot three or four quick rolls and then raced to my hotel room a few blocks away, where I processed them in the bath.”
Above was his picture of the Red Army’s new intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He went to Moscow with the intention to cover the 7th November parade and prepared an instant developing kit for it. He raced back to the Metropol Hotel where he was staying, sent a telex to New York saying he had something special, developed the film in his room, and caught a plane to Helsinki.
There, Time magazine arranged a special lab for him, from where the pictures were developed and distributed all over the world. Several magazines displayed those pictures on their cover.
Sacco Vanzetti Case
Nearly 90 years on, people still seem to take this one personally. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian immigrants accused of murdering two people during an armed robbery in Massachusetts in 1920.
The trial, which took place in the wake of the wave of national hysteria known as the “Red Scare,” was a joke; the public was paranoid about immigrants and the presiding judge made it clear that he knew what to expect from people who talked funny.
To make matters worse, Sacco and Vanzetti were avowed anarchists who both owned guns. Although there was no hard evidence against them, they were convicted and sentenced to death.
The case became an international cause célèbre, and people like Felix Frankfurter, John Dos Passos, and Edna St. Vincent Mil- lay spent years pressing for a retrial.
From their desks overseas, Albert Einstein, H. G. Wells, and George Bernard Shaw condemned the trial. Violent demonstrations, many of them in front of U.S. embassies and consulates, took place in London, Paris, Tokyo, Warsaw, and Buenos Aires.
However, Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes turned down an appeal.
When Sacco and Vanzetti were finally electrocuted in 1927, everyone was convinced that the whole liberal cause had collapsed.
Their funeral took place on August 27 and was attended by a march of 50,000 people, who were stopped at the cemetery-gates and scattered into the streets by the police before trouble could begin.
Sacco and Vanzetti became martyrs, with poems and plays written about them.
Unfortunately, modern ballistics tests conducted in 1961 seemed to prove conclusively that the fatal bullet used in the robbery did indeed come from Sacco’s gun.
Never mind, it still looks like Vanzetti might have been innocent.
Lord Combermere, while governor of Barbados, had ordered a professional investigation of ”Moving Chase Coffins” of Barbados.
The coffins inside the sealed vault are said to have been moved about by unnatural forces. The above photo of Lord Combermere’s library was taken in 1891 by Sybell Corbet while Lord Combermere’s funeral was going on a few miles away.
If you look at the left chair you can allegedly see Lord Combermere setting there.
Lord Combermere was a British cavalry commander in the early 1800s, who distinguished himself in several military campaigns.
Combermere Abbey, located in Cheshire, England, was founded by Benedictine monks in 1133. In 1540, King Henry VII kicked out the Benedictines, and the Abbey later became the Seat of Sir George Cotton KT, Vice Chamberlain to the household of Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII. In 1814, Sir Stapleton Cotton, a descendent of Sir George, took the title “Lord Combermere” and in 1817 became became the Governor of Barbados.
He died after being struck by a horse drawn carriage.
The photographic exposure, Corbet recorded, took about an hour.
It is thought by some that during that time a servant might have come into the room and sat briefly in the chair, creating the transparent image.
All members of the household claimed that they were attending Lord Combermere’s funeral.
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
In 1943, SS General Jürgen Stroop compiled a report to Himmler on the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, which he personally saw to earlier. Originally titled “The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more!”, and commonly referred to as “The Stroop Report”, the report also included many photographs with captions in Gothic script.
Among them was the above photo, titled, “Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs”, one of the best-known pictures of World War II.
The photo of a young unknown boy with his hands up being driven from the Warsaw ghetto has served as a touchstone for everyone from the Nuremberg prosecutors to Elie Wiesel, and from Susan Sontag to revisionist ranters on the web. In reality, the children played an important role inside the Ghetto; they begged everywhere, in the Ghetto as well as on the ‘Aryan’ side.
Six-year-old boys crawled through the barbed wire under the very eyes of the gendarmes in order to obtain food. Often a lone shot in the vicinity told that another little smuggler had died in his fight with omnipotent hunger.
The Stoop Report was later used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials, and to convict and hang Stoop of war crimes.
Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the five-person command group that led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, died earlier this week, aged 90. Nearly 400,000 Jewish men, women and children had been sealed into the Ghetto in 1940 – the prelude to the Final Solution, which murdered almost all of Poland’s three million Jews, half of the total victims.
The uprising surprised the Nazis; Dr. Goebbels paid them a remarkable tribute: “The Jews have actually succeeded in making a defensive position of the Ghetto… It shows what is to be expected of the Jews when they are in possession of arms. Unfortunately some of their weapons were good German ones…”
Vive Le Quebec Libre!
On July 24, 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle was one of many world leaders invited to Expo 67 to help celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday.
The relations between two countries were not at their best: earlier that year, the French government had not sent a representative to the funeral service for Governor General Georges Vanier. General de Gaulle held a grudge against Canada for its objection to France’s military position in the Suez crisis.
De Gaulle refused to land in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as par with proper political protocol. Instead, he flew to the French colony of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off Newfoundland, and sailed on a French frigate to Quebec City.
There, de Gaulle was cheered enthusiastically, while the new Governor General was booed.
The next day de Gaulle arrived in Montreal; although he was not scheduled to speak that evening, but the crowd chanted for him; de Gaulle stepped out onto the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville and gave a short address. [It was later said that his address was preplanned and he used it when the opportunity presented itself.
In his address he commented that his drive down the banks of the St. Lawrence River, lined as it had been with cheering crowds, reminded him of his triumphant return to Paris after the liberation from Nazi Germany.
The speech appeared to conclude with the words “Vive Montréal! Vive le Québec!” (Long live Montreal! Long live Quebec!), but he then added, “Vive le Québec libre! Vive le Canada français! Et vive la France!” (“Long live free Quebec! Long live French Canada! And long live France!”).
Texas City Disaster
On April 16th, 1947, Caroline Valenta, 22-year-old photographer for the Houston Post, captured this shocking image of the aftermath of the explosion of the SS Grandcamp in Texas City.
Workers had been in the process of loading the vessel with chemical fertilizer bound for France when a fire started on board.
Everyone was ordered off the ship, and the fire began to draw a crowd of spectators along the docks. At 9:15AM the ship exploded.
There, bodies were everywhere. Some cut in half, some horribly mangled.
Many had nothing but their shoes on because their clothes had been burned off in the explosion and fire.
Killing 570 people, injuring 3,000, and leveling buildings nearly a mile away, the disaster triggered the first ever class action lawsuit against the United States government.
Using some advice given by legendary Life magazine photographer Dmitri Kessel, Valenta looked for the big picture; she walked a half mile into the center of the disaster area.
Oil, tar, chemicals, downed cables, and human debris covered the ground. She walked back to an area where eight bodies lay beneath an overturned boxcar.
In the background stood the twisted steel wreckage of a building, smoke almost blotting out the sky. And there she took the above a foreground-background shot.
Obama in Kenya
In February 2008, amidst a bitter Democratic presidential nomination race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a photograph circulating on the Internet of Barack Obama dressed in traditional local Somali garments during a visit to Kenya in 2006.
The Associated Press photograph, posted on the conservative blog the Drudge Report, portrayed Obama wearing a white turban and a wraparound white robe presented to him by elders in Wajir, in northeastern Kenya.
Obama’s estranged late father was Kenyan.
Virtually no photographs exist of any of the six death camps in operation (Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka).
The Auschwitz Album, a collection of pictures made by an unknown German officer during the ‘‘selection’’ process on the Birkenau train platform, remains a notable exception.
In above photo, Jews undergoing the selection process on the Birkenau arrival platform known as the “ramp.”
Tibor Kalman was an editor and a journalist who believed that he had a moral obligation and a political desire to expose issues and make them as sexy as possible so an audience–primarily kids, but really everybody–would look at them.
That was why his work with Oliviero Toscani for United Colors of Benetton were extremely jarring and haunting.
In November, 1990, while reading Life, Tibor ran across a black-and-white documentary photo.
It showed an Ohio family around the bed of David Kirby, a 32-year-old man dying of AIDS in the Ohio State University Hospital in May 1990.
Tibor and Benetton approached the Kirby family and the photographer, Therese Frare.
Frare’s photo was part of a documentary on the lives of clients and caregivers in a hospice for people with AIDS and won the 1991 World Press Photo Award.
Benetton contributed generously to an AIDS foundation, with the family’s consent.
The family approved of the use of the image and came to New York for a press conference.
There was a collaborative feeling among all involved.
The image of a man dying of AIDS, surrounded by his family (his father, sister and niece), shows the terryfying sight of a body devasted by the HIV virus.
For a while, it became a central focus of the AIDS debate. It won the European Art Director Club award for the best 1991 campaign and the Houston International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award. In 2003 the photo was included in the Life magazine collection ‘100 Photos that changed the world’.
However, a number of AIDS activists believed that the photograph and its use in advertising actually painted AIDS victims in a negative light.
Others perceived the campaign as a vindication of homosexuality.
For some there was sensitivity about the implied connection between the deaths of David Kirby and Jesus. Many magazines refused to print it. Yet, in some countries, this photo became the very first campaign to talk about AIDS
In 1968, Alexander Dubcek, the new leader of Czechoslovakia, initiated a reform program to create ‘‘Communism with a human face.’’
The resulting freedom of speech and press, freedom to travel abroad, and relaxation of secret police activities led to a period of euphoria known as the Prague Spring.
Encouraged by Dubcek’s actions, many Czechs called for far-reaching reforms including neutrality and withdrawal from the Soviet bloc.
To forestall the spread of reforms, the Soviet army invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968.
Reagan Tears Down the Wall
On June 12th 1987, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin, President Ronald Reagan challenged Gorbachev, then the General Secretary of theCommunist Party of the Soviet Union, to tear down the Berlin Wall.
As the speech was being written, inclusion of the words “Mr. Gorbechev, Tear Down This Wall,” became a source of considerable controversy within the administration.
Several senior staffers and aides advised against the phrase might cause further East-West tensions or potential embarrassment to Gorbachev, with whom President Reagan had built a good relationship.
American officials in West Germany and presidential speechwriters thought otherwise. Reagan himself agreed, saying “I thought it was a good, solid draft,” later adding “I think we’ll leave it in.”
So it was. At the time, the speech received little coverage from the media, but the Soviet press agency TASS accused Reagan as giving an “openly provocative, war-mongering speech.” However, when 29 months later, Gorbachev allowed Berliners to destroy the wall, the speech gain iconic status.
On 12th September 1990, now-former President Reagan returned to Berlin, where he personally took a few symbolic hammer swings at a remnant of the Berlin Wall.
On the same day in Moscow, two Germanies and the Four Powers sign the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, paving the way for the Re-unification.
The Congolese Lese Majeste
As the state of Zaire (now Congo) declared its independence and the Belgium King Baudouin and President Joseph Kasavubu drove along the boulevard in an open car, On the way into Leopoldville from the airport, an exuberant nationalist pressed close to his open limousine, grabbed the King’s sword from beside him, and flourished it above his head before the police could move in and pommel him away.
Henry Cabot Lodge’s UN Trick
During a debate over the shooting down of an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory on May 20th 1960, U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jnr. decided to go on the offensive.
He accused the Soviet Union of hiding a microphone inside a wood carving of the Great Seal of the United States, which had been presented to the U.S. embassy in Moscow by the Soviet-American Friendship Society.
He extracted a tiny microphone out of the eagle’s beak with a pair of tweezers, as Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko smiles with amusement and mockery behind Lodge.
“It so happens that I have here today a concrete example of Soviet espionage so that you can see for yourself,” he announced triumphantly. The Soviet resolution condemning the U.S. spy flights was subsequently defeated.
The Blunt Reality of War in Vietnam
It was perhaps the most controversial cover for LIFE magazine, which usually steered clear of controversy.
Paul Schutzers captured this image of a VietCong prisoner gagged and bound, being taken prisoner by American forces during the Vietnam War.
Photography and news coverage like this helped to turn the American public against the Vietnam war.
Yeltsin on a tank
On August 19, 1991, the hardliners of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, led by the then-Vice President Gennady Yanayev, put the pro-reform General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev under house arrest.
The party also sent tanks to suppress the people’s revolts for democracy.
At that critical juncture, Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, defied the hardliners. He made a speech from the turret of a tank, calling on the military to refrain from firing on the people.
The Communist hardliners originally planned to occupy the Parliament at 3 a.m. on August 20, 1991. The plan was aborted after the Alpha Group, an elite unit of the KGB, refused to follow orders.
In the defeat of the August Coup, the consciences of KGB agents played an important role–some KGB agents had their weapons aimed at Yeltsin on the tank but refrained from firing.
Hand of God
There was much bad blood between England and Argentina — two powerhouses of world soccer — well before a ball was kicked in anger at the quarterfinals of 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Four years earlier, the two nations had gone to war over the Falkland Islands.
Diego Armando Maradona, Argentina’s greatest-ever player, scored both his side’s goals in the 2-1 victory.
For the first, despite appearing to head the ball, the player actually used his fist to loop it over the English goalkeeper.
German Surrender (in color!)
These are the only colour photographs of the German surrender of World War Two. Sixty-Four years earlier there were being taken by a lowly clerk who hid behind a tree, one Ronald Playforth who was General Bernard Montgomery’s clerk since D-Day.
The historic items have remained in Mr Playforth’s family ever since but have now been made public for the first time as they are being sold at auction.
In May 1945, the Nazi high command arrived at Montgomery’s HQ at Luneburg Heath, near Hamburg to sign the papers for the surrender of the German armies in Europe.
Until now the only images of the momentous occasion in existence are the official black and white ones held by the Imperial War Museum.
Playforth was of too low a rank to be present so he crept into the trees and bushes on the perimeter of the HQ tent and took four photographs using colour slides.
Cold War on the Court
The U.S. team came to the final having won every game in Olympic play for the past 36 years.
But the Soviet Union’s team surprised the Americans with an aggressive offense in the 1972 Munich Games.
With six seconds left, the USSR was clinging to a one-point lead when American Doug Collins was deliberately fouled.
Collins sank both of his free throws, giving the US. its first lead, 50-49, with three seconds left.
The Soviets failed to score, time ran out and the Americans erupted in celebration.
But Soviet coach Vladimir Kondrashkin claimed he had called a time-out that was ignored, and Britain’s R. Williams Jones, the Secretary-General of the International Amateur Basketball Federation, ordered the clock set back by three seconds.
When play resumed, Soviet star Sasha Belov pushed past two U.S. defenders to sink the winning basket
One of the most infamous moments in Academy Awards’ history took place on the Oscar night for 1973 [April 2, 1974].
As the host David Niven was introducing the night’s final presenter, Elizabeth Taylor, a nude streaker came running across Oscar’s stage flashing a peace sign.
Robert Opel got backstage by posing as a journalist in one of the most embarrassing security breaches. The audience roared and laughed as Opel streaked his way on.
David Niven, always a quick wit, quipped: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was bound to happen. But isn’t it fascinating to think that the only laugh that man will probably ever get in his life was when he stripped off to show his shortcomings.” The audience roared with even more laughter.
The Falling Man
“The Falling Man” is a photograph taken by Richard Drew at 9 : 41 : 15 a.m., on September 11, 2001 of a man falling from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City.
The man in the photohraph remains unknown. The picture is deceptive, however, as it suggest that man was falling straight down, however, this is just one of many photographs of his fall.
It is evident from these other pictures that he tumbling out of control.
Many people find the image disturbing because it is a horrific image of what people had to resort to during the attacks.
The subject was one of some 200 people (called “jumpers” by the press) trapped on the upper floors of the skyscraper that apparently resorted to jump rather than die from the fire and smoke.
In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the 9/11 records.
Newspaper stories commenting on the image have attracted a barrage of criticism from readers.
In most American newspapers, the photograph ran once and never again. However, as Esquire wrote, the story behind it and the search for the man pictured in it, may be our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.
The photo has become a digitalized “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” not only for the jumpers but also for everyone who perished that day.
Germany Invades Poland
The photo of German troops parading through Warsaw after the surrender of Poland probably taken as late as September 30th, 1939.
The invasion won’t end until early October 1939, shortly after the Soviet Union invaded the country from the east and subsumed the Baltic States.
The devil’s pact between Hitler and Stalin (Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) enabled these cataclysmic events to unfold and pushed the world into another world war.
Nixon meets Elvis
Of all the requests made each year to the National Archives for reproductions of photographs and documents, one item has been requested more than any other.
It was neither the Bill of Rights or the Constitution of the United States, but the above photograph of Elvis Presley and Richard M. Nixon shaking hands on the occasion of Presley’s visit to the White House.
Although Richard Nixon abhorred modern art, and even forbade its presence in the White House, his advisors told him that publicly supporting the arts would boost his image.
As a result, Nixon oversaw a six-fold increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). [To Nixon’s horror, these funds went to Erica Jong’s novel of sexual liberation, Fear of Flying.]
Nixon was also known for his star-filled parties at his “Western White House” in San Clemente, California, and for his association with glamorous personalities like the Reagans and Frank Sinatra. However, it was not Nixon who initiated this meeting.
On the morning of December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley paid a visit to the White House, with a six-page letter of introduction written by himself.
In the letter, he requested a meeting with the President and asked that he be made a “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Presley also brought some gifts–a Colt 45 pistol and family photos. He was received at 12:30 pm, and received a thank-you note from the president, but the fictitious position of ‘Federal Agent-at-Large’ was not created for Presley, who himself would succumb to the influence of drugs less than seven years later.
Above, a candid picture of Josef Stalin, captured by Lt. Gen. Nikolai Vlasik, the dictator’s bodyguard.
Vlaski, Stalin’s erstwhile confidante, co-conspirator and son-in-law, was purged by his master in 1952. After Stalin died in 1953, he was released from a gulag.
Vlasik’s off-the-record photos of Stalin caused a sensation in the early 1960s when an enterprising Soviet journalist spirited some out, selling them to newspapers and magazines worldwide.
Ali vs. Liston
The first Sonny Liston-Cassius Clay fight in 1964 when Liston was the world heavyweight champion ended in controversy: during the fourth round, Clay started complaining that there was something burning in his eyes and that he could not see. It has been theorized that a substance used to stop Liston’s cuts from bleeding caused the irritation. Clay won the match on a TKO.
A rematch was set in May 25th 1965, this time with Liston as challenger; Clay was now Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam the previous year. Due to the fightt being staged in a small auditorium in remote Lewiston, Maine, only 2,500 fans were present, setting the all-time record for the lowest attendance for a heavyweight championship fight. (It remains the only heavyweight title fight held in the state of Maine.)
Midway through the first round, Liston fell to the canvas; Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner, standing over his fallen opponent, gesturing and yelling at him, “Get up and fight, sucker!” Neil Leifer, a 5′6″ reporter who covered many boxing matches, struggled to capture this moment, which has since become one of the iconic images in sports history. Sports Illustrated used the photo to cover their “The Century’s Greatest Sports Photos” special issue. Leifer thinks it is both the triumph of the powerful man and the vulnerability of the fallen that combined to make this photo a lingering masterpiece.
Johnny Cash’s Finger
As he grew old, Johnny Cash came to resent the Nashville country-music establishment, which all but abandoned him and the other aging “country” artists who had defined the genre to embrace new pop-oriented country artists like Garth Brooks. His late album Unchained (1996) was virtually ignored by the establishment.
However, the album won a Grammy for Best Country Album. Cash and his producers American Recordings posted an advertisement in Billboard Magazine with the above image as a ”thank you” to the Nashville country music industry after winning the award. The infamous photo of Cash giving the middle finger to the camera was taken back in 1969 during his San Quentin prison performance.
Shooting the Apple
An inventor and an artist, Dr. Harold Edgerton, a professor at MIT, pioneered the strobe flash, stop-action photography and a method of taking super-fast images called Rapatronic.
These images allowed very early times in a nuclear explosion’s fireball growth to be recorded on film. The exposures were often as short as 10 nanoseconds, and each Rapatronic camera would take exactly one photograph.
Harold Edgerton’s most famous picture was that of a bullet going through an apple. Taken in 1964 with flash duration of about a millionth of a second using a specially built strobe, it became a very famous image.
The .30 bullet, traveling at 2,800 feet per second, pierced right through the apple, disintegrating the latter completely. Edgerton used this image in his MIT lecture, “How to make applesauce,” to illustrate that the entry of the supersonic bullet is as visually explosive as the exit.
An investigation into the infamous Concorde disaster of 2000 concluded that a burst tyre caused by a metal strip on the runway was the cause of the disaster.
Debris from the puncture pierced the under-wing fuel tanks and started the fire that brought the plane down.
An similar accident had been identified since 1979, but the investigators had ruled out the speculations that poor maintenance had contributed to the tragedy which killed all 109 people.
On 25 July 2000, as Air France Flight 4590 burst into flames shortly after take-off from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.
The flight was chartered by a German cruise-line and all passengers were en route to board a cruise ship in New York City for a 16-day cruise to South America.
A few days after the crash, all Concordes were grounded. Although the Concorde had been the safest working passenger airliner, the high-profile crash spelt the beginning of the end of the aircraft’s career.
Increasing fuel prices, 9/11 terrorist attacks and expensive fares led to the Concorde’s permanent retirement in 2003.
Vulture Stalking a Child
In March 1993, photographer Kevin Carter made a trip to southern Sudan, where he took now iconic photo of a vulture preying upon an emaciated Sudanese toddler near the village of Ayod.
Carter said he waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings. It didn’t.
Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away. (The parents of the girl were busy taking food from the same UN plane Carter took to Ayod).
The photograph was sold to The New York Times where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993 as ‘metaphor for Africa’s despair’.
Practically overnight hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived, leading the newspaper to run an unusual special editor’s note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown. Carter came under criticism for not helping the girl.
”The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene,” read one editorial.
Carter eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo, but he couldn’t enjoy it.
Consumed with the violence he’d witnessed, and haunted by the questions as to the little girl’s fate, he committed suicide three months later.
Lynching of Young Blacks
Lawrence Beitler took this iconic photograph on August 7, 1930, showing the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, two young black men accused of raping a white girl.
A mob of 10,000 whites took sledgehammers to the county jailhouse doors to get these men; the girl’s uncle saved the life of a third by proclaiming the man’s innocence.
Lynching photos were made into postcards designed to boost white supremacy, but the tortured bodies and grotesquely happy crowds ended up angering and revolting as many as they scared.
The photo sold thousands of copies, which Beitler stayed up for 10 days and nights printing them
Hitler in Paris
Upon the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940, Adolf Hitler posed in front of the Eiffel Tower with his architect Albert Speer (left) and his favorite sculptor Arno Breker. Breker’s monumental neo-Classical figures vividly expressed Nazi racial ideology.
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