When you step out the door, you're playing a role. Whether you're a hippie, stock broker, police officer or biker, you dress the way the world expects you to dress, you act the way the world expects you to act. So you can imagine how much more intense this is for celebrities, whose very careers depend on managing a public image down to the molecule.
But even they can't keep the occasional image-shattering photo from leaking out to the public ...
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who, when seeing this photo, immediately hear "Werewolves of London" in their heads, and those who do not. That is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago, showboating in a pool match with local civil rights leader Al Raby.
And no, this isn't one of those photo ops where a public figure poses with a prop to look like regular folk. King was a hell of a pool player -- he took up the game in college almost 20 years earlier, and in the early days of the civil rights movement allegedly won the respect of local gang members by playing (and presumably beating) them at it.
Which is amazing, considering that a man who would attempt a shot like that in the middle of a match is probably something of a sore winner. "Looks like you lose again, Johnny Switchblade! Now pardon me while I do a victory lap around your pool hall while riding my cue like a horse."
On one hand, none of us probably thought that Stephen Hawking was born in a wheelchair. But as a pop culture figure, his wheelchair and electronic voice are his thing, and against all logic you find it hard to think of him any other way, like how you can't think of Hulk Hogan without the tan and mustache.
That photo up there is from 1965, when a 23-year-old Hawking married Jane Wilde. That was after his diagnosis with ALS, the disease that would put him in the wheelchair (note the cane). But just a couple of years before that, he had no idea he had a degenerative disease -- he was a healthy, active, drinking college student at Oxford:
Via Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe
Seconds after this picture was snapped, his pants hit the floor.
Then, one day he noticed he was having trouble keeping his hands steady, and once fell down a flight of stairs. Hey, best to go get it checked out, right? Could be, like, an ear infection or something throwing off his balance. That's when the 21-year-old (now studying for his Ph.D. at Cambridge) was told he'd be bedridden soon, and dead within a few years, a prognosis that is true for almost every ALS patient. Hawking, somehow, is still alive 50 years after his diagnosis.
Tell me that man's beard is not full of Cheetos dust. That is an early 1970s Bill Clinton in his Yale days, with Hillary. Only I'm 99 percent sure that nobody called him "Bill" back then. No, a guy like that would have a nickname like "Meat" or "Boner" or "The Dude." Seriously, tell me you can find any difference between the future president in the above photo and Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski:
Both of them look like the kind of man who would interrupt a night of desperate last-minute cramming with "Dude, put down the book, I just had the best idea. It's gonna make us all rich, man. Now, just hear me out, OK? What if you could make a taco shell out of Doritos?"
If you see this photo out of context, your jaded mind will immediately assume you're seeing either 1) a young Mister Rogers goofing around with his producer off-air or 2) a "F*&@-IT, WE'LL DO IT LIVE!"-type meltdown.
The reality, unfortunately, is that Mister Rogers appears to have really been wholesome all the way down, and here he's leading a group of children in a song that has them counting off each finger in turn. When they get to the middle finger, Rogers cracks up ...
Via Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
"Now kids, you never do this with your wheel hand unless they've just merged without signaling."
... knowing that it is going to be screen capped and shared on the Internet 45 years later.
What's hilarious about this one is that Hitler still looks ominous. From that children's snow sled he is going to conquer the world! Also, think of how different your impression of Hitler would be if he had worn that hat all the time. This looks like a particularly stupid Photoshop, but there are other pics of this from other angles and they're all equally silly (they're apparently scanned from a 1955 book by Hitler's personal photographer).
But honestly, though, did the man ever smile? Yes, he did:
Via Rex Features
"Oh heil no, you didn't just say that!"
And he also sometimes put on a suit and tie and posed awkwardly with his girlfriend:
"Did I blink that time? I think I blinked. Let's do one more. What do I do with my hands? What if I ... does this look natural? OK. Wait, I think I blinked again."
And here he is hugging his pet dog:
Via Eva Braun Home Movies
"Who's the dog of the devil? Huh? Who's a fluffy little devil dog?"
By the way, if you wonder why Hitler hated the Soviet Union so much, check out his terrifyingly sexy competition ...
That's right, ladies. The next time you're at a party and you see a guy who looks like a rugged, more handsome Keanu Reeves with Johnny Depp hair, playing a guitar and staring at you with his big, soulful eyes, keep in mind that in 40 years he could very easily turn into this guy ...
Via Wikimedia Commons
You can just hear panties hitting the ground.
... brutal Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
No matter how it might seem when you're in high school, sometimes the line between jock and nerd is razor thin. Their genes might make those guys tall and give them the ability to dunk from the free throw line, but behind closed doors they're going to hike their pants way up and dance with an umbrella, as MJ was doing here in this 1983 photograph by Lane Stewart for Sports Illustrated.
There is a whole gallery of these, you can judge which one is the most embarrassing.
Via Sports Illustrated
But, seriously, it's this one.
Yet that is not the dorkiest teenage celebrity photo we have. That would be ...