Movies and television shows can make a long-lasting impression on viewers and even form lifelong memories for many people. Innovative TV series like Bewitched and Star Trek helped to shape modern American culture, and films such as Grease and Godzilla are just as beloved today as when they were first released. Take a step back into pop culture history with these rare behind-the-scenes photos of classic movie and TV stars on the job.
Taking A Break On The Set Of Star Trek
Everyone needs a break occasionally, even stars like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Here, they’re pictured in costume as their iconic characters Captain Kirk and Spock while on the set of Star Trek.
The pair appears to be deeply engrossed in the December 1967 edition of MAD magazine, which included a parody of their show, called “Star Blecch.” Fans of both Star Trek and MAD will appreciate this classic photo.
How The Terror Of The Birds Was Created
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 American horror-thriller film The Birds is a fan-favorite to this day. Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Veronica Cartwright, the movie follows a series of bizarre and violent bird attacks on people in a California town.
Here’s a peek at what it was like to film The Birds. Hitchcock is seen directing the actors in front of a set covered in dozens of birds. Many of the live birds were caught by production staff!
Behind The Magic Of Sesame Street
Sesame Street has been entertaining kids (and their parents) for more than 50 years now and is one of the most beloved television shows of all time. Here’s a rare look at the creative minds behind it all, taken during a 1970 rehearsal at Reeves TeleTape Studio in New York City.
From left to right we see puppeteers Daniel Seagren and Jim Henson, who are working the Ernie puppet together, and Frank Oz with Bert.
Duuun Dun Duuun Dun
Although the shark in 1975’s blockbuster hit Jaws made people too scared to go to the beach for years, the robot behind the terrifying character was actually a dud! Named Bruce, the mechanical shark malfunctioned so much during filming that it was called the “great white turd” on set.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at Bruce being worked on by the crew. The robotic shark was named after director Steven Spielberg’s attorney Bruce Ramer.
Behind-The-Scenes Photo Of Grease Stars
After its release in 1978, Grease quickly became the highest-grossing musical film ever at the time (it’s still in sixth place). The musical romantic comedy about a greaser and a foreign transfer student remains popular to this day. Here’s a shot of some of the movie’s stars as they pal around on set: John Travolta as Danny, Olivia Newton-John as Sandy, and Jeff Conaway as Kenickie.
The film’s soundtrack was the second-best-selling album of the year in the United States, only behind the soundtrack of the 1977 blockbuster Saturday Night Fever — which also happened to star John Travolta!
Jeannie Working Her “Magic”
This color photo from 1968 shows the legendary American actors Barbara Eden, as Jeannie, and Larry Hagman as Major Tony Nelson, from the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.
The photo was taken between shots when Jeannie blinked a fur coat onto Major Nelson while they were on the beach. Eden had to stand still and hold the position while the wardrobe team dressed Hagman in the fur coat and reset the scene.
Splish Splash With Cleopatra
Cleopatra, the 1963 epic historical drama film, was at that time the most expensive film ever made. In fact, production costs almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox! Additionally, the movie was plagued with production troubles and personal scandals between the film’s stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
A reviewer for The New Yorker had this to say about the chemistry between Burton and Taylor: it was as “entrancing in the movie’s drama as it was in life.” Here is the glamorous Taylor in costume for a bathing scene.
Making A Monster Movie
First released in 1954, the Japanese movie Gojira (Godzilla) unleashed one of the biggest pop culture icons into the world. There are now more than 30 movies in the film franchise.
Godzilla also introduced a special effects technique called “suitmation,” which was quicker than stop motion photography. Here, we see a man rampaging through “Japan” wearing the bottom half of the monster suit as he crushes buildings in his path.
Lucy And Desi Smooching On Set
The classic television sitcom I Love Lucy ran from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957, and remains one of the most beloved shows in history. Starring the iconic Lucille Ball and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz along with William Frawley and Vivian Vance as their neighbors, I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons.
In this photo snapped around 1955, Ball and Arnaz share a smooch while on the set of the show.
Yvonne Craig During Filming Of Batman
Actress and ballerina Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in the third season of the 1960s television series Batman. Batgirl creator and comic book editor Julius Schwartz said that the character “was so popular she almost got her own TV show.”
This photo of Craig posing on a beach-front swing was taken during filming of the 1967 episode “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!” In the episode, the Joker plots to become the king of surfing and take over Gotham City.
“The Little Rascals” Meet Vittorio Mussolini
Italian film critic and producer Vittorio Mussolini is shown here being greeted by cast members from “The Little Rascals/Our Gang” during a visit to Hal Roach Studios in the 1930s. From left to right are “Alfalfa” Switzer, Hal Roach, Jr., “Porky” Lee, “Spanky” McFarland, Mussolini, Baby Patsy May (on his knee). Darla Hood and Pete the pup are seated.
Mussolini was the son of the notorious Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. He and Roach entered a partnership together in 1937.
A Friendly Smile On The Set Of The Shining
This photo shows a different type of smile than the deranged one that fans of The Shining are used to seeing on Jack Nicholson during the film. Released in 1980, the psychological horror movie was directed by Stanly Kubrick, who is seen sitting here behind Nicholson and gesturing to the photographer.
Although Stephen King, who wrote the book that the film was based on, criticized the way the storyline deviated from the original format, critics had a favorable response and the movie is now regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.
Darrin And Samantha Share A Laugh
Here are television icons Elizabeth Montgomery (as Samantha) and Dick York (as Darrin) in a rare behind-the-scenes peek at the set of Bewitched in 1964. They’re shooting a scene in their daughter Tabitha’s bedroom and are obviously amused by a joke or something out of the camera’s range.
Bewitched, which originally aired from 1964 to 1972, was ranked at #50 on the 2002 TV Guide “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” list.
On The Set Of The Ten Commandments
Iconic director Cecil B. Demille created two cinematic versions of the biblical story The Ten Commandments during his career. The first was released in 1923. Demille is seen here on the left as he talks to actor Charles De Roche on set.
Demille remade the film in 1957, and it was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Its appeal hasn’t faded over time; in 2008 the American Film Institute named it the tenth best film in the epic genre.
In Costume For Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was a partially true story, won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Music Score, and Best Cinematography in 1970. Written by William Goldman and directed by George Roy Hill, the western follows the leaders of a band of outlaws when they find themselves on the run after a botched train robbery.
Here are the stars Robert Redford (The Sundance Kid), Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy), and Katharine Ross (Etta Place) in costume on set.
A Birthday On The Set Of The Wizard Of Oz
Taken in 1939, this photo shows Judy Garland celebrating her birthday with a very large decorated cake during filming for The Wizard of Oz. With her are Frank Morgan, who played the title Wizard, director Victor Flemming, and actress Myrna Loy on the set of The Wizard of Oz.
Here’s an interesting fact about the movie: producers cast about 10 children in Munchkin roles to help fill out the background in group scenes.
Bruce Lee And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Discussing A Fight Scene, 1972
The Game of Death was the last movie filmed by the legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. Sadly, he died before the film was completed, although some of the finished footage was used in a documentary called Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey.
In this photo from 1972, we see Lee as he gives direction to the NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose role was “Hakim.” This was Abdul-Jabbar’s film debut, and he’s been in numerous other television and film appearances since.
Gilligan Getting Used To Flying Around The Set
Gilligan’s Island might have only had three seasons, but it continues to leave a big impression on viewers. In this photo taken circa 1965, we see actor Bob Denver as Gilligan, all hooked up to a flying apparatus. The show also starred Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson, Tina Louise, and Dawn Wells as the rest of the castaways.
Fun fact: all 36 episodes of the first season were filmed in black and white but were later colorized for syndication. The second and third seasons were filmed in color.
Bаtman And Robin “Scaling” A Building
Here’s a rare behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the 1966 Batman television series. We see Adam West as Batman with Burt Ward as his trusty sidekick Robin as they “climb” a skyscraper.
The image was rotated 90 degrees to give the effect that they were scaling the building vertically. Throughout the series, a recurring gag was to have a celebrity pop their head out of one of the windows. Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, and Dick Clark were just a couple of the stars that chatted with Batman and Robin as they made the treacherous climb up.
The First Season Of The Brady Bunch
One of the most popular television series in syndication among children and teenagers, The Brady Bunch originally aired from September 26, 1969, to March 8, 1974. Here’s a photo of the child actors taping of the show’s first season.
It was important to Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz that the kids all had the same color hair that their parents did, so before Robert Reed and Florence Henderson were even cast as Mike and Carol, he had 12 kid actors on reserve. There were three blond girls, three blond boys, three brunette girls, and three brunette boys. Once Mike and Carol were cast, the kids whose hair matched best were hired.
C-3PO Has It Made In The Shade
When English actor Anthony Daniels stepped into the C3PO costume for 1977’s Star Wars, he was also stepping into film history. As you can imagine, the elaborate costume, made of plastic, brass, and aluminum worn over a black body glove, could get pretty hot.
In this behind-the-scenes photo, Daniels is seen trying to stay cool in the blazing sun between takes. Fun fact: Daniels is the only actor who’s appeared in all the Star Wars films in the franchise!
Between Takes Of In the Heat of the Night
In the Heat of the Night is a dramatic mystery film about a black police detective from Philadelphia who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi. Starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night won five Academy Awards in 1967, including Best Picture and Rod Steiger for Best Actor.
Here are Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, Steiger as Chief Bill Gillespie, and director Norman Jewison on set between takes.
Stooges Making Faces During Filming Of “Shivering Sherlocks”
The American vaudeville and comedy team The Three Stooges starred in nearly 200 short films from 1922 until 1970. Moses Horwitz (“Moe”) and Larry Feinberg (“Larry) were mainstays in the films, and the “third stooge” was played by either Samuel Horwitz, Jerome Horwitz, Joe Besser, or Joseph Wardell.
From left are Shemp Howard, Duke York, Moe Howard, and Larry Fine during filming of a scene from the 1948 short “Shivering Sherlocks.” York, dressed as a hatchet-man here, was an actor and stuntman who appeared in almost 160 films from the 1930s to the 1950s.