People look back on the late 1920s to the early 1960s as Hollywood’s Golden Age. This period marked the end of silent films and the introduction of “talkies” which starred some of the greatest film stars we know today. It also brought about directors and producers who created some of the best films in history.
But behind all the glitz and glamor of Hollywood were the regular, quirky, and down-to-earth stars that we saw on the screen. Seeing Audrey Hepburn doing her own makeup before accepting an Oscar or seeing Cary Grant joking around by the pool will completely change what you know about these old Hollywood stars.
James Dean And Marlon Brando Goof Around With Extras
Here are James Dean and Marlon Brando taking a ride around the Twentieth Century Fox backlot on a wicker cart. The two were in the middle of filming Henry Koster’s Desiree in 1954. Brando was playing the role of Napoleon and welcomed a visit by his friend on set.
Only one year later Dean would die in a tragic car accident that left Hollywood shocked and the American public sad and confused.
Elizabeth Taylor Is All Laughs With Her Eldest Son
Actress Elizabeth Taylor hangs on for dear life as she rides the bumper cars at a circus with her son Michael. This photo was taken in 1961, only one year after Taylor won the Academy Award for Best Actress and finally left her controlling contract with MGM Grand.
Michael was her first child with her second husband Michael Wilding. Taylor went on to have three other children and six husbands.
John Wayne Takes A Moment To Visit His Son On Set
John Wayne takes a moment from the set of The Sea Chase to visit his 15-year-old son, Pat Wayne, who is starring on a nearby set for Mr. Roberts. Taken in 1954, Pat was one of Wayne’s seven children.
Many of Wayne’s kids entered the Hollywood industry like their father, but Pat was the most successful. He made over forty films, of which eleven of them he starred alongside his dad.
It’s All Fun And Games For Paul Newman
Paul Newman jokingly throws his racket in the air while playing tennis in the 1960s. The American actor was at the top of his game in the 1960s with roles in films like The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Even though Newman was most popular in the 1960s, he didn’t win an Academy Award until 1986 for his performance in The Color of Money.
A Rare Show Of Marlene Dietrich’s Funny Side
Actress Marlene Dietrich is caught hiding under a table in a New York City restaurant in 1967. The German actress who was known for her beauty, grace, and poise shows off a playful side in this candid photo.
Dietrich found her start in silent films in the 1910s and was one of the few actresses who transformed seamlessly to talking motion pictures. Despite being German, she held American citizenship and was known for her humanitarian efforts during the war.
One Man Can’t Resist Eartha Kitt’s Forbidden Fruit
American singer Eartha Kitt is shown here enticing a man to join her on the Ferris wheel at an amusement park in the United Kingdom. The singer and songwriter rose to fame in Britain before gaining prominence back in America. Her most iconic recording, the Christmas song “Santa Baby,” is still a popular song today.
Kids today might know her better for being the voice of the villain Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove, but in the 1950s people like Orson Welles considered her “the most exciting woman in the world.”
This Man Can’t Believe It’s Marilyn Monroe
A man does a double-take as he goes to board the subway in Grand Central Station in March of 1955. He can hardly believe that actress Marilyn Monroe is waiting nearby for the same train.
1955 was a big year for the Hollywood star. She had previously been suspended from Hollywood acting because she refused to do a film her agents wanted, but then returned to star in one of her biggest films The Seven Year Itch. After the film’s success, she was able to renegotiate her contract and begin her own acting company.
Audrey Hepburn Right Before The Biggest Moment Of Her Life
Audrey Hepburn reapplies her lipstick backstage in the Center Theatre, moments before accepting the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Roman Holiday. The film was Hepburn’s first American film and shot her into the limelight.
At the time this photo was taken in 1954, Hepburn had just rushed over from the 46th Street Theatre where she was starring in Ondine, a play which would land her a Tony Award for Best Performance.
Marlon Brando Is Happy To Have His Passport Back
Legendary movie star Marlon Brando proudly shows off his passport to the press in 1953. He was supposed to set sail for a promotional tour in Europe a week before but his luggage and passport had been stolen from a friend’s car. He tried to board the ship anyways, but even his famous face didn’t allow him to get on the boat.
This passport was actually the fifth one that he’s lost and he had to wait one week for the State Department to issue him an emergency passport.
Kirk Douglas Shows Off His Muscles And His Kids
Actor Kirk Douglas lifts his two sons Joel (left) and Michael with a pole beside their Hollywood swimming pool in 1955. Douglas was the epitome of the American dream after rising to fame in the 1950s. He was the son of immigrant parents and has little to no money growing up.
Both Joel and Michael went on to follow in their father’s footsteps in Hollywood. Joel became a film producer and, of course, Michael Douglas is one of the most celebrated actors in recent years.
Judy Garland Shows Off The Family Resemblance With Her Daughter Liza Minnelli
Judy Garland and daughter Liza Minnelli share an intimate moment behind the scenes of the new British television show they are about to star in together. Garland was now 42 years old and had just wrapped up filming her own variety show, The Judy Garland Show. Even though it was canceled after one season, it was critically praised and was nominated for four Emmys.
On the other hand, Liza was only 18 and beginning her long career after guest-starring as an opera singer on Mr. Broadway.
Jayne Mansfield Is Still First And Foremost A Mother
This behind the scenes photo of Jayne Mansfield shows a different side of the American sex symbol. Just like any other mother, she holds a safety pin between her teeth while she changes her son’s diaper in the garden of her Hollywood home.
Mansfield was one of the early Playboy playmates and while she had a successful Hollywood career in the 1950s and 1960s, she became more well-known for her wardrobe malfunctions and affairs with men like Robert and John F. Kennedy.
A Controversial Poolside Photo Of Two Of Hollywood’s Leading Men
Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were two of Old Hollywood’s first leading men. They both began their careers in the 1930s and it was during this time that the two moved in together. The bachelors lived on and off together in Hollywood for twelve years.
Many have speculated that the two likely had a gay romantic relationship that they couldn’t make public at the time. While there’s no evidence of it and both men ended up having multiple marriages, they are still considered early gay icons.
Jane Birkin Always Has A Piercing Glare
English actress Jane Birkin is shown here in a candid shot on the set of the controversial French film Je T’aime Moi Non Plus (I Love You, I Don’t). The film was directed by Birkin’s husband Serge Gainsbourg and shook up American audiences for a number of reasons.
The film is a love triangle at its core but involved one gay trucker leaving another gay trucker for Birkin, who was meant to be portrayed as a boyish-looking woman.
Jack Nicholson Joking Around (As Always)
Warren Beatty and Lauren Bacall have both had enough of Jack Nicholson’s joking around at the CBS Inaugural Gala in 1977. Beatty and Nicholson were lifelong pals who were up to no good since meeting in the early 1960s.
Former wives of both Nicholson and Beatty have called them partners in crime and they remain close to this day. Both of them allegedly even had tunnels running directly from their Hollywood homes to the Playboy Mansion.
Julie Andrews Long Before She Was Mary Poppins
A 14-year-old Julie Andrews sings on the soundstage for a BBC radio show alongside a ventriloquist. This photo, taken in 1950, came just one year after Andrews became the youngest solo performer to ever be seen in a Royal Command Variety Performance before King George VI of England.
When she was 19, she moved to the United States and began her career there, but it wasn’t until 1963 when she landed the role in Mary Poppins that she’d become a household name.
Humphrey Bogart’s Son Visits Him On Set
American actor Humphrey Bogart enjoys a visit from his young son Stephen while filming on the set of Battle Circus. Bogart became a father for the first time when he was 49. He never expected to have children so late and enjoyed having his son on set with him whenever possible.
Stephen went on to become an author and host a show for Turner Classic Movies. He’s often said he loves to uphold his father’s classic Hollywood legacy by showcasing his films.
Katharine Hepburn Takes A Much Deserved Puppy Break
Legendary film actress Katharine Hepburn hangs out on set during a break with co-star Cary Grant and a dog. This photo, taken in 1938, was taken right when she was being labeled “box office poison.” A slew of commercial failures caused her to be practically blacklisted in Hollywood, but she’s best known for orchestrating her own comeback.
Hepburn bought out her contract, acquired the film rights to The Philadelphia Story, and quickly became a Hollywood star again.
Bette Davis Cameos As Herself In A Movie About Her Humanitarian Efforts
Bette Davis (left) cameos as herself on the set of the film Hollywood Canteen in 1944. The film was based on the real-life canteen that she and John Garfield founded in 1942. The real Hollywood Canteen was run off donations from various guilds and unions around Hollywood.
The canteen invited U.S. servicemen free entry, food, and drinks if they were wearing their uniform. Stars like Davis, Bette Grable, and Marlene Dietrick even waited on tables and provided entertainment.
A Rare Photo Of Sidney Poitier Behind The Camera
African American actor and director Sidney Poitier is seen here directing on the set of Hanky Panky. Poitier spent his life in Hollywood breaking down barriers for African Americans. He spent the 1940s and 1950s gaining prominence in Hollywood until, finally in 1964, he became the first black male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor thanks to his starring role in Lilies of the Field.
While Poitier was known for his acting he also broke down barriers behind the camera. His best film, Stir Crazy, starred Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.
Sammy Davis Jr. Keeping It Slim And Trim
Sammy Davis Jr. is caught here in 1968 working out with an elastic chest expander. Although Davis Jr. began acting and singing at the age of three, the 1960s were the peak of his career. In 1960, he appeared alongside Rat Pack actors in Ocean’s 11, then landed starring roles on Broadway and even his own TV variety show.
Davis Jr. believed strongly in staying fit and in shape after a car accident in 1954 nearly killed him.
Sean Connery Takes A Break From Being 007
Scottish actor Sean Connery is seen here relaxing on the set of Thunderball in 1965. Connery wasn’t actually looking to break into the acting business, but his physical size and prowess caught the attention of many scouts in the early 1950s. He worked backstage on production for extra money and was slowly cast in smaller roles and as an extra.
Connery’s big break, of course, was when he landed the role of British secret agent James Bond. He appeared in seven Bond films, with Thunderball being the fourth.
Alfred Hitchcock Doesn’t Look As Spooky With Those Monkeys
Legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock is seen here meeting some of the animals at the Taronga Park Zoo in 1960. At the time, the public was used to seeing Hitchcock in behind the scenes moments looking serious and scary as he worked on films like Rear Window and Psycho.
This photo paints a different picture of the director who referred to actors as “cattle” and was one of the most divisive personalities in Hollywood.
Elvis Signs Autographs While Reporting For Duty
Elvis Presley is seen here on his base in Friedberg, Germany giving his autograph to teenagers. Presley being drafted to the army was a huge deal in 1958. He was photographed doing everything from boarding the bus to setting off for basic training.
Presley said he didn’t want to be treated any different in the army and other soldiers admitted her was as able and ordinary as anyone else. His army service worked in his favor because it was while on duty in Friedberg that he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu.
Lucille Ball Hangs Out With Her Son In Her Backyard
Lucille Ball kisses her son, Desi Arnaz Jr., while he plays in the backyard of their home in Los Angeles. The actress, best known for her role as Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy, had two children with her husband Desi Arnaz.
Ball made waves in 1953 with the birth of Desi Jr. because her pregnancy was written into the show’s plot. She was the first woman to be shown pregnant on television, even though CBS wouldn’t allow for the show to use the words “pregnant” or “expecting.”
An Aging Charlie Chaplin Can’t Decide What To Order Off The Menu
An aging Charlie Chaplin is seen here browsing a menu with his then-wife Paulette Goddard in 1950. While Chaplin’s career was at its peak in the 1920s-1940s, he was still acting and directing in the 1950s before being banned from the United States.
Chaplin had been visiting Britain for inspiration when, upon his return to America, the attorney general James McGranery refused him entry unless he did an interview about his political beliefs. Rather than subject himself to the interview, he simply refused and lived abroad until his death in 1977.
Two Of Hollywood’s Leading Men Take A Risk On Some Like It Hot
Actors Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon relax in character on a couch on the set of the comedy Some Like It Hot. The 1959 film was produced without approval from the Hollywood production code because it featured cross-dressing and played with the ideas of homosexuality.
Despite the controversy, the film was an overwhelming success and is today considered one of the greatest films of all time. The British Film Insitute even names it one of the 50 films you should watch before the age of 14.
Clint Eastwood Dances To Records With His First Wife Maggie
Actor Clint Eastwood dances with his first wife Maggie in their dismal living room. Taken in 1965, Eastwood was just beginning to rise to fame with the role of Rowdy Yates in the western television series Rawhide.
Although Eastwood and his first wife Maggie were married for more than 30 years, he was known for his numerous open affairs. Between proposing to Maggie and marrying her, he even had an affair that allegedly ended up with a child being put up for adoption.
Jerry Lee Lewis Poses With The Wife Who Got Him Blacklisted
Country rockabilly singer Jerry Lee Lewis poses on his motorcycle alongside his 13-year-old wife Myra. Not even Lewis’s immense fame in the 1950s could stop this marriage from being controversial. Not only was Myra underage, but she was Lewis’s third wife and he was only 22 years old, and she was his first cousin once removed.
This photo was taken one month after the public got wind of the marriage and Lewis was blacklisted from most radio stations. It wasn’t until the 1960s that he made a full comeback.
Clark Gable Sits In Costume While His Shoes Get Shined
The King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, sits in costume while he gets his shoes shined before filming in 1938. Although Gable had been rising in the ranks of Hollywood for years beforehand, it wouldn’t be until the next year in 1939 when he became a household name for playing the lead in Gone With The Wind.
Gable actually didn’t want to play the lead and many actors in Hollywood thought the film would be a major flop.
Esther Williams Shoots A Tricky Water Scene
Actress Esther Williams has a look of disbelief while she listens to the director of Jupiter’s Darling explain how the camera will work underwater. Even today, underwater camera shots can be very tricky. In 1954, the result was a waterproof shell for the original equipment and even the cameraman was forced to wear scuba gear.
Williams was perfect for the “aqua-musical” because she actually was a competitive swimmer before becoming an actress. She’d even later serve as a commentator for swimming in the Olympics.
Oliver Hardy And Stan Laurel Take A Break From Filming
In 1928, the iconic comedy duo Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel are shown taking a break on the back lot of the MGM studios before heading back to film “Towed In A Hole.” Over the course of their career, the two filmed 107 short and feature-length films.
The two began working together in 1927 and became known for their slapstick comedy. Hardy would usually play the pompous bully character, while Laurel would act clumsy and childlike.
John Payne Does Pull-Ups On A Beach To Stay In Shape
Payne, who was once a wrestler before turning to acting, shows off his strength while doing pull-ups on a beach. He was keeping fit while shooting Wings of the Navy on location. Before landing more serious roles, Payne was mostly cast in westerns thanks to his physique.
Later in his career, he became known for being the leading man in many film noir crime stories and musical films. Payne’s most notable role was in Miracle on 34th Street.
Mildred Harris Stops To Apply Makeup Mid-Shoot
Leading lady Mildred Harris is caught here applying makeup on the beach between scenes. Harris began her career in Hollywood when she was 11 years old. She was extremely successful in the early 1920s, but found it difficult to transition to the “talkies” era of film.
Harris was also famously the first wife of Charlie Chaplin. After the death of their only child in 1919, the two separated and though a nasty divorce, Harris received $100,000 (about $1.3 million in today’s cash).
Jiggs The Chimpanzee Plays With Dorothy Lamour’s Hair
Actress Dorothy Lamour and her co-star Jiggs hang out together backstage on the set of The Jungle Princess. The film was only Lamour’s second role, but it solidified her fame. In the film, she wore a tropical sarong-style dress that she became known for in later roles.
From 1936-1939, Lamour starred in other “sarong” roles like Her Jungle Love and Tropic Holiday. The film style became so popular that in 1940, she even starred in a spoof “sarong” film, Road to Singapore.
Audrey Hepburn Plays Guitar For George Peppard
Hepburn, dressed up as her most famous character Holly Golightly, plays guitar for her co-star while on break from shooting Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The co-stars were rumored to be dating at the time of filming, but she was married to actor Mel Ferrer at the time.
The 1961 film cemented Hepburn’s already dominating status in Hollywood. Her character’s little black dress, high chignon hairstyle, and oversized cigarette holder is one of the 20th century’s most memorable film costumes.
Joe DiMaggio Visits Gina Lollobrigida On Set
Baseball star Joe DiMaggio is pictured here on the set of Trapeze visiting Italian film star Gina Lollobrigida. Lollobrigida was filming in Paris in 1955 and DiMaggio had flown to meet her. Their “friendship” came only one year after Dimaggio’s relationship with actress Marilyn Monroe fell apart.
Monroe and DiMaggio separated on the grounds of “mental cruelty” after only nine months of marriage which sparked the ball playe to completely change his life around. He stopped drinking and underwent therapy.
Actor Henry Fonda Plays With His Daughter, Jane
A five-year-old Jane Fonda is pictured here playing with a sailboat by the Fonda family pool. Her father, Henry Fonda, made his mark as a Broadway actor and began dominating Hollywood in 1935. It wasn’t until the 1940s though that Henry would become a Hollywood heavyweight with films like The Grapes of Wrath and 12 Angry Men.
His daughter Jane became interested in acting in her teens and landed her first film role in 1960 with the movie Tall Story.
Rex Harrison And Samantha Egger Watch Soccer While On Set
Dressed as the parts in the 1966 film Doctor Dolittle, Rex Harrison and Samantha Eggartake a break in between scenes to watch the Football World Cup Final. Both Harrison and Eggar were British and needed to catch the final match between England and West Germany.
Harrison went on to be one of the most respected British actors in Hollywood. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989.
Sofia Loren Pushes Her Mercedes Back On The Road
Italian actress Sophia Loren struggles to push her Mercedes back onto the paved road. Loren had been driving to avoid excited fans and gone off the side of the road so she wouldn’t run into someone. The actress was at the height of her career in 1956 after starring in films like Two Nights with Cleopatra and Houseboat.
Loren starred in multiple films every year throughout the ’50s and ’60s until she became a mother and slowed down.