Surprising historical photographs of famous people hanging out together
From Einstein and Chaplin to Nancy Reagan and Mr. T, we had no idea these folks were friends.
Historical figures can seem so important, so far beyond everyday life, that it's easy to think of them as fictional characters in high-stakes stories. But in reality, they're just people ... And sometimes they hang out together. We found some forgotten photos of famous scientists, musicians, politicians, writers and entertainers running into each other.
Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin
"The people applaud me because everybody understands me, and they applaud you because no one understands you,” explained Chaplain.
“What does it all mean?” asked Einstein.
“Nothing,” responded Chaplin.
Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley
We're not the only fans of this photo. When a newspaper reported that the National Archives was selling photos of this meeting, 8,000 people asked for copies.
Here's how it happened: Presley wrote Nixon a six-page letter asking if he could visit. Egil Krogh, one of Nixon's aides, was an Elvis fan and convinced Nixon to make the meeting happen. Elvis wore a purple velvet suit, sunglasses and a giant gold belt buckle.
"When he first walked into the Oval Office, [Elvis] seemed a little awestruck," remembers Krogh, "but he quickly warmed to the situation."
Nixon and his aide were apparently fascinated by Presley's cuff links, and merry was had by all.
Nancy Reagan and Mr. T
Actor Mr. T visited Nancy Reagan at the White House in 1983. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Something about this photo makes the world a happier place. Is it Mr. T in a Santa costume, feathers and gold jewelry? Is it that they seem to be holding two identical board games about him (it's always embarrassing when you and a friend get each other the same gift that has your face on it)? No. While those things are lovely, it's definitely all about first lady Nancy Reagan sitting on his lap and kissing him on the head.
Reagan invited Mr. T to check out the White House Christmas decorations, and Mr. T showed up dressed like Santa.
"Wow! Wow, growl, wow!" reportedly shouted Mr. T as Reagan sat on his lap. "Burt Reynolds, eat your heart out."
The feeling was, apparently, a deep one. "I will truly miss First Lady Nancy Reagan," wrote Mr. T on Twitter this March, when she passed away. "I will never forget her."
Mark Twain and Helen Keller
Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Anne Sullivan and Laurence Hutton meet up around 1905. (Photo: Laurence Hutton/Wikipedia)
Author, activist and lecturer Helen Keller met writer Mark Twain in 1895 at a lunch in New York, and the two hit it off. “He treated me not as a freak, but as a handicapped woman seeking a way to circumvent extraordinary difficulties," wrote Keller about Twain.
“It won’t do for America to allow this marvelous child to retire from her studies because of poverty," Twain wrote in a letter to a friend about Keller. "If she can go on with them she will make a fame that will endure in history for centuries.” Not a bad prediction, right? The two became close friends, visiting one another and writing each other throughout their lives.
Twain's autobiography ends with a quote from Keller: “You once told me you were a pessimist, Mr. Clemons,” Twain quoted Keller, “but great men are usually mistaken about themselves. You are an optimist.”
Susan Sarandon and David Bowie
Susan Sarandon and David Bowie had a three-year relationship. (Photo: Screenshot/Youtube)
Actress Susan Sarandon may have been caught off guard, but it looks like tribute-worthy musician David Bowie knew he was being photographed. He stared into the camera like it's a mirror, letting Sarandon's hair fall on his face as though he was trying to figure how he'd look with curly bangs.
This wasn't just a random shot; the two were in a relationship for years. "He’s worth idolizing," said Sarandon in an interview. "He’s extraordinary. That was a really interesting period. I wasn’t supposed to have kids, and I’m the oldest of nine and had mothered all of them, so I wasn’t ever in a mode to where I was looking to settle down and raise a family, so that definitely changes the gene pool you’re dipping into. But Bowie’s just a really interesting person, and so bright. He’s a talent, and a painter, and… he’s great."
Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald
In 1955, singer Ella Fitzgerald was trying to book a gig at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood, but the club owner wasn't interested. Actress Marilyn Monroe promised to come to Fitzgerald's performance. The promise landed Fitzgerald the gig, and Monroe brought quite a bit of media attention with her. The booking changed Fitzgerald's career.
"After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times," remembered Fitzgerald. "And she didn’t know it."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini met up in 1920 during Houdini's tour of England. (Photo: Public Domain)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories that eventually became reboot heaven, became friends with famous magician Harry Houdini. During one of Houdini's visits to England, the two took this photo right after they had argument in which Houdini magic-ed away Doyle's thumb.
Now, a new fictional show is coming out about the pair's friendship: "Houdini and Doyle," starring Stephen Mangan and Michael Weston.
The Brady Bunch and the Jackson Five
In 1971, the Brady Bunch met the Jackson Five at ABC Studios (Photo: Screenshot/Youtube)
As part of a 1971 special, the Brady Bunch parents dropped their kids off at ABC Studios. There, the kids "happened" to run into the Jackson Five, who were promoting their own cartoon show at the time, "The Jackson 5ive." The kids shook hands in a number of handshake styles, and everyone, especially Marcia, looks like they had a good time.
Perhaps the meeting gave the Brady kids some ideas; they got their own cartoon show soon after.
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