#13. This Was “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Celebrities age weird. Did you know that Samuel L. Jackson is 64 years old? Or that William Shatner is 82? You just kind of put it out of your mind — the idea of Samuel L. Jackson lining up for Senior Citizen’s Night at Golden Corral Buffet just doesn’t register. Even more so when said celebrity made his living as a real-world cartoon character:
Not pictured: OOOOOHHH YEAAAHHH!
Sure, you are vaguely aware that “Macho Man” Randy Savage had been doing that bit for a long time (he won his first belt in the WWF way back in 1986), so you had to know that even though he looked exactly the same in those Slim Jim commercials, there was an aging man under those sunglasses. But then when he passed away a couple of years ago, pics started to emerge of the man without the hat, wig, and beard dye. And he looked like your uncle:
“OK, you can have one beer, but you’d better not tell your dad I let you have it.”
And then you almost feel silly — did we actually think that ridiculous costume was just what he looked like? But it’s hard to picture him as anything other than Macho Man — that was all we knew. Even if, not too many years before Macho Man was born, Randy Poffo (yes, that’s his real name) was a mild-mannered baseball player who looked like this:
“OOOHHHH … yeah?”
So let me ask you this: If you could go back in time to meet that outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds at age 19 and show him this picture …
… and say, “This is you … FROM THE FUTURE!” do you think he’d be surprised? Do you think you’d be surprised at a picture of yourself from 10 years from now? Because it might be just as different. For example …
#12. Osama bin Laden Is Somewhere in This Photo
Tell us that isn’t the 1960s-est goddamned photo you’ve ever seen (even if it was taken in 1971). It’s a big family in mod clothes, piled on a convertible pink Caddie in a fashionable shopping district in Europe.
Hmmm … who’s that boy near the end?
It’s the dude from That ’70s Show!
Why, that would be the 15-year-old face of unspeakable evil. That photo depicts a gathering of the bin Laden family on a shopping trip to Sweden. Just eight years after that photo was taken, Osama would join Muslim guerrillas in fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. About 10 years after that, he would form al-Qaida; about 12 years after that, at age 44, the 9/11 attacks would occur.
This is my point — you teenagers and 20-somethings out there, that is how little you will recognize yourself by the time you hit your 40s. From rich, teenage high school soccer fan on a shopping trip in Europe to murderous crazy person chuckling on video at the thought of 3,000 people burning to death, doomed to be hunted like a dog by the most powerful military on earth.
All of you will become terrorists, is what I’m saying.
And while we’re doing the “Who could have guessed where they’d end up?” thing …
#11. Pre-Fame Marilyn Monroe Was a Plain Factory Girl
There’s nothing wrong with that girl up there. She’s probably a 6 or a 7 — you likely work or go to school with girls prettier than her (hell, some of you are dating girls hotter than her right now). She’s just a very plain brown-haired girl like you’d expect to see turning a wrench on an airplane motor. If you were asked to imagine her in 10 years, what would you see? Probably got a couple of kids, maybe put on some weight, maybe she’s cut her hair short so it’s easier to take care of …
That, or she’s the most famous sex symbol in the history of the human species:
“No, we’ll have to take another one. You keep stepping on that fan, and we can see up your skirt.”
Yep, you have to wonder if anyone who worked alongside 19-year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty at the Radio Plane Munitions Factory in 1945 recognized her a few years later when she was suddenly on every magazine cover (including Playboy), starring in movies, and getting plastered across tabloid headlines as “Marilyn Monroe.”
All it took was a photographer from Yank magazine showing up at that factory (that’s the U.S. Army’s weekly newsletter — what did you think it was?) to grab some propaganda photos of the girls hard at work. The photos didn’t even get published, but the photographer told young Norma Jeane that she should look into modeling. She figured, why not — her husband was off at war, and it was better than spraying airplane parts with fire-proofing gunk. The modeling agency told her sure, they could get her some work. But that she might want to dye her hair.
She then auditioned for a film role, where an executive at 20th Century Fox pulled the name “Marilyn Monroe” out of his ass, because it sounded sexy. She divorced her husband, married one of the most famous baseball players of all time, and porked the president of the United States on the down-low. And it happened so fast that when she was in bed with JFK right in the goddamned White House, some of her former co-workers were probably still working the same machines on that same assembly line.
#10. A Pre-Politics Hillary Clinton Was, Uh …
There’s a fantastic chance you’ve never thought about Hillary Clinton’s boobs one way or the other, ever in your life, but you’re thinking about them now. And we know at least one guy who was thinking about them in 1975:
Image taken on the building-sized Apple 1 Enormous Camera Phone.
That would be the future presidential couple taking a break from a volleyball game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when Hillary was 28 and Bill was 29, an age at which he was not above using a volleyball to hide his erection.
She seems to be looking around, almost as if to see if anyone is watching. Like maybe they’re going to start doin’ it right there in the field. Have you ever thought about Bill and Hillary Clinton doin’ it? Well, you are now.
#9. This Cha-Cha Dancer Is a Young Bruce Lee
Ha! Look at that dork! You can bet he got his head crammed into a middle school toilet or two!
Or, not. That would be Bruce “baddest badass of all time” Lee, not just dancing the cha-cha, but winning the Hong Kong Cha-Cha Championship in 1958, at the age of 18. Now, after reading the last couple of entries, you probably think we’re going to tell you some tale of transformation, how he went from dorky dance champion to martial arts punching machine. Maybe he was bullied because of his dorky glasses and skinny frame, so he took up karate instead of dancing?
Nope! These were two loves of the same man — he had been studying martial arts since age 13, the same years he studied (and mastered) dance. See, guys, he felt secure enough in his manhood to dance the cha-cha specifically because he knew he could also do this:
And that’s how five of his dance partners tragically met their end.
Although if you’re a fan of “nerd to badass” transformations, I guess I owe you one …
#8. Here’s What Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter Looks Like Now
That would be actor Matthew Lewis, who 12 years ago was the chubby, buck-toothed kid who was deemed perfect for the role of the dorky Neville Longbottom in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter series:
You take one look at that face and you know everything you need to know about the character — he was the bullied, bumbling doofus whose constant humiliation was played for comic relief.
Actions are usually followed by a wacky “boing” sound.
And now, ironically, he has gained the real-world magic power of making panties fly off just by walking past them.
All of the men to the right are currently pantiless.
I bring this up because this is something you teenage boys out there don’t know about getting older: Many of the hot girls you’re drooling over now will be unrecognizable in 10 years. Conversely, the girls you’ll be ogling at your 15th class reunion will be the ones you remembered as awkward and pimply. Here’s what Charlize Theron looked like in high school:
Standing at a bone-crushing 6 feet 11 inches tall.
So take heart; some of you nerds will figure out how to be cool over the next couple of decades, while some of the coolest members of the football team will get fat and commit suicide in a trailer park.
#7. Here’s Katy Perry Without Makeup
That photo of a barely awake Katy Perry was tweeted by then-boyfriend Russell Brand, who immediately deleted it. For comparison, here is how Katy Perry presents herself to the world, and in millions of sex fantasies:
Now, she looks fine in that Twitter photo. For a woman just waking up (as she appears to be), she has nothing to be ashamed of — that’s about as good as women look in the morning, which is 10 times better than any man.
But it’s shocking precisely because it makes you realize that this is the true deception of TV and movie makeup: It’s all about raising the floor, not the ceiling. In other words, when you’re supposedly seeing a girl at her worst on television — say, Zooey Deschanel stumbling out of bed, or Jennifer Aniston on the sofa in sweats looking “ugly” — she is in reality still wearing hours of makeup, hair, and wardrobe. Her “ugly” day is carefully calculated to look better than any of us did on prom night.
The reality is that these impossibly gorgeous women, if scrubbed of perfect makeup, lighting, and Photoshop, look like somebody you could stand in line next to at the grocery store and never give a second glance. Here’s another one of Perry, sans makeup:
Her “everyone’s older sister” look.
For an even more extreme example …
#6. Here’s Lady Gaga Without Her Lady Gaga Shit Glued to Her Head
Via Daily Mail
That would be Lady Gaga, without 6 pounds of fake eyelashes, cotton candy wigs, and hats made of stuffed lemurs stuck to her cranium. For reference, this is her after she’s all painted up:
Pretty sure there’s some spackle thrown in there for good measure.
And, again, without it she looks fine, like a person you’d run into behind the counter at Walgreens. If your brother was dating her, you wouldn’t be impressed or disgusted. She’s a normal person. Here’s one she tweeted from her own bathroom:
Duckface Myspace pose and all.
That is also what she looked like back when she was Stefani Germanotta, a musical prodigy who gained admission to an exclusive theater training program at New York University before quitting to form her own band, in which she wrote her own songs, sang, and played keyboard. Then at some point she had the revelation that she probably couldn’t become a superstar while looking like a regular human being you might run into at a shoe store, so around 2007 — after her first record deal had fallen through — she hid her normal-person face behind a bunch of plastic bullshit and the world said, “Yes, that’s better. Now we shall allow you to sing songs to us.”
But even stars who don’t wear thick layers of bullshit become different people when they make one minor change …
#5. Zooey Deschanel Is Unrecognizable if She Brushes Aside Her Bangs
Jamie McCarthy / Getty
Who the fuck is that? Are we really to believe that some dangling bangs are the only thing standing between that total stranger and America’s sweetheart, Zooey Deschanel?
Yes, because those bangs are her thing.
It must be a lot of pressure to have a “thing.” I mentioned in the previous edition of this article that Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan “Colonel” Sanders basically turned himself into a human logo on purpose — he started wearing that trademark white suit and bolo tie everywhere he went, specifically because it was easy to notice and remember. Put him in shorts and a T-shirt and you don’t recognize the man, the same as if Elvis Presley had let his hair return to its natural blond and grown a goatee. In Zooey Deschanel’s case, it’s her trademark bangs — brush them aside, and she’s a total goddamned stranger.
Jamie McCarthy / Getty
She was severely beaten by security for being on the red carpet. Even after producing ID.
It’d be like if, I don’t know, you were to see Charlie Chaplin without his trademark Hitler mustache and bowler hat …
WHO THE FUCK IS THAT?!
#4. Barack Obama Was Once a Toddler Dressed Like a Little Pirate
I have a weakness for pictures of powerful people as children, hopefully doing something ridiculous. This one is just about perfect.
That there is President Barack Obama, living as a toddler in Hawaii with his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, dressed in a shitty pirate costume. I guess it’s probably Halloween (that appears to be a trick-or-treat bag on the ground behind him), but damn it, I prefer to think he insisted on dressing like this all the time. For like two straight years, like it was a phase he went through.
Again, on a purely logical level, it shouldn’t change your opinion of anyone to know that he was once a child and did silly child things. But I can’t help it — all I can do is wonder if that little kid in the cardboard pirate hat perceived even the early traces of the traits and desires that would one day make him the most powerful human being on earth. If not, at what age do those thoughts start? Or do people like that not even think in those terms? Did Ronald Reagan think it was weird to wear sweatpants on Air Force One?
“When we land, you’ll have to surround me until I get to the podium because I’m not changing.”
#3. This Photo of Richard Nixon and RoboCop Is Not Photoshopped
When President Richard Nixon made the historic decision to step down from office in 1975, could he have known that a mere 12 years later he would be in the same room with RoboCop?
I guess there’s no logical reason why the above photo would be impossible — RoboCop debuted in 1987, and Nixon lived until 1994 — they inhabited the Earth at the same time. You just wouldn’t think Nixon and RoboCop would travel in the same circles.
In order to answer the obvious questions this photo raises, Mental Floss tracked down its origins and figured out that Nixon was attending a Boys’ Club of America event in December of 1987 (see the logo behind him), and the studio behind RoboCop decided to do a tie-in promotion with the charity, because what film could possibly send a better message to a bunch of troubled youths?
“Mr. Nixon, could you re-enact the rape scene where RoboCop shoots that guy’s dick off? It’s for the kids.”
So, they sent some random dude in a surprisingly shitty RoboCop costume, and probably confused the hell out of an ex-president.
#2. Pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill Was a Groovy TV Actor Looking for Work
“His name is Mark Hamill and you asked to know more about him after his dynamite appearance on ‘Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law.’ Now, for the first time, here are the facts on groovy Mark!”
That press release from the agent of a young bit player named Mark Hamill allegedly dates back to 1973 (the year that he apparently played two different minor characters in a long-forgotten TV legal drama). This would be a mere three years before he would be cast in Star Wars and become one of the most recognizable faces in the history of civilization. And I’ve got to say, seeing him there, eye-fucking me in his tank top and seashell necklace, gives me a weird feeling.
Understand, I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when I was 3 years old. I saw Return of the Jedi when I was 9. I don’t know at what point in that span that I figured out these were fictional characters, but it was definitely a few years into it. So for a significant part of the crucial period during which my new brain was forming inside my skull, I believed that Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were real people living out in space somewhere. And sure, at some point I figured out they were just actors reciting lines on a sound stage, but I was still completely in awe of these people. In no way was I thinking in terms of how good a job they were doing acting, or how well they were cast — the idea that someone else could ever have played Luke Skywalker, or played him better, was just unthinkable. It’d be like speculating if some other mother could have been more your mother than your actual mother.
So to go from that to accepting the reality of a struggling 22-year-old Mark Hamill scraping by in Hollywood, hopping from one audition to the next and trying to convince casting agents he was America’s next sexy dreamboat …
“Don’t refer to your genitals as ‘my crotch Wookiee’.”
… is something I just can’t wrap my head around. He is Luke Skywalker! The most heroic person who ever lived! Luke Skywalker didn’t have unprotected sex at skanky ’70s cocaine parties or pass out after puking in the pool! This is the mythology of my youth, damn it!
#1. Gandhi Wasn’t Always Gandhi
That is “Mahatma” Gandhi in 1906, back when he was merely Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and working as an attorney in South Africa at the age of 37. We mention Gandhi a lot in our articles, and I often wonder if our readers even know who he is. His face is iconic with people my age mainly because of an Academy Award-winning biopic that was one of the most acclaimed and well-known films of the 1980s. He was the face of nonviolent social change in the world, but that face looked like this:
And that chest. Don’t forget that chest.
Anyone my age can draw a rough Gandhi from memory — bald, round glasses, emaciated, white shawl. And while I would never dream of comparing Gandhi to Lady Gaga, well … you can see once again the power of iconography. His goal was to become a symbol, so he made himself into a symbol, with a distinct look that could not be forgotten. He created a character. The same as Colonel Sanders, or Batman, or Macho Man.
That’s not to make light of what he accomplished at all. The same means can be used to achieve different ends, and the game is the game.
Via Wikimedia Commons
“And you either play or you get played, motherfucker.”