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Five famous photo booth shots from yesteryear

15th April 2015 by Showtime Photo Booth
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Whether for entertainment, identification, or pure vanity, the humble photo booth is a cultural phenomenon that’s as relevant now as it was back in its 1930’s heyday. So ubiquitous was their appeal, even A-list celebs would pay a quarter for a selfie. Fred Astaire even danced in one in the 1953 film The Band Wagon. If you want to follow in their footsteps, why not speak to us about our popular vintage photo booth hire in London. Maybe you can dance your way into a list like this someday…

The King, circa mid 1950s

When someone becomes as famous as Elvis, it’s nearly impossible to demythologise their life. There’s the drugs, the women, and dear god, the food. If it wasn’t being done to excess, Elvis wasn’t interested. But like all Kings of Rock ‘n Roll, even Elvis was a regular Joe – once upon a time.

The son of poor, working class parents in Mississippi, Elvis never learned to read music, and took a job driving a truck when he graduated high school. Why Elvis parted with a quarter for this series of snaps we’ll never know, but they serve as a fascinating reminder of the young man who soon became the most famous man alive. If you look closely enough, you can almost see the smoke from his smouldering charisma.

Not fade away: Buddy Holly in 1959

Charles Hadlin Holly – better known as Buddy Holly, took his new friend and colleague Waylon Jennings to a photo booth in New York’s Grand Central Station for this iconic shot. Despite his half-cocked cigarette and cooler-than-ice expression, you can see there’s a lot more to this young man than just your average pop star.

Writer and performer of massive hits such as That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, and Not Fade Away, Holly was tragically killed in a plane crash shortly after this picture was taken, aged just 22. Jennings was supposed to be on the flight, but was bumped at the last minute, leaving this photograph behind as one of the final reminders of their friendship.

Rebel Without A Stylist: James Dean in 1949

No-one can really be credited with inventing the teenager, but if you had to give that accolade to anyone, it would have to be James Dean. Disillusioned, socially estranged and just plain flippin’ cool, Dean’s performance in the movie classic Rebel Without A Cause struck a chord with teenagers worldwide in 1955.

Rewind to 1949 though, and we see the real Jimmy Dean, a teenager himself at just 19, practicing his legendary big screen charisma in a photomatic. The pictures reveal nothing of the reckless excess that led to his untimely death behind the wheel just 5 years later. Instead we see a presentable young man you might take home to meet your folks. How things change, eh?

Goodbye Norma Jeane: Marilyn Monroe in 1954

Pictured with her new husband, “Joltin’ Joe” Dimaggio for their passports in 1954 Marilyn Monroe showed that even the most sought-after Hollywood A-listers can’t escape the photo booth’s clutches. Renowned for her turbulent love life and the suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely death, she reveals a more serious aspect to the photo booth. You can’t help thinking it must have been a novelty to be asked not to smile for the camera! After less than a year of marriage, the pair separated. According to Monroe, Dimaggio was jealous because she was more famous than he. Well, she was right about that!

John F Kennedy circa 1953

There’s nothing quite like a photo booth to humanise even the most out-of-reach celebrities. And 35th president of the USA John F Kennedy is no exception. Despite being so cool that he was known simply as ‘JFK’, Kennedy’s photo booth snaps with his wife Jackie show an ordinary couple enjoying a private portrait where they can just be themselves for the camera.

Smiling, and intimate, the pair have got The White House written all over them, but don’t come off as aloof or detached. They could be members of your own family, happy to just be together. Sadly, it’s not the most famous picture of this controversial president, whose shocking and brutal assassination was filmed live on TV during a visit to Texas. Conspiracy theories abound as to the real truth behind events that day.

Could you be on a list like this in 60 years’ time?

Hopefully, your own photo booth snaps will have a much happier ending than ours. To find out about vintage photo booth hire for your party or event, why not get in touch for a friendly chat.

Famous Photo Booth Shots

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