Over the past few years, we have tragically lost some of the brightest stars in music, comedy, film, television, politics, and sports. It's always heartbreaking to hear that another inspirational person has passed away, but it's comforting to know that their legacies live on and the memories we have of them transcend them even after their passing.
Here we take a look at some of the rarest pictures of those heroes that have left us over the recent years. These pictures give us a unique glimpse into the lives and characters of those celebrities who have passed away, and often offer up a different side of the people we thought we knew. From politicians posing with people we never thought they'd be in the same room with, to musicians before they were famous, this collection of photos is a step back in time and a new kind of walk down memory lane.
Although we miss these celebrities very much, their legacies live on in our hearts and minds, and they continue to inspire us through their enduring power. So here's to those who have passed, you may be gone but you certainly will never be forgotten.
25 Amy Winehouse Was Unique in Every Way
The world reeled in shock and dismay when the news broke out that Amy Winehouse had died. She had a truly singular voice and brought a newness and soul to music that was as distinctive as it was beautiful.
This picture of Amy was taken in her home in Camden, London by photographer Karen Robinson, and the simplicity and beauty of it are truly striking.
We see here a different side of the singer, whom we normally associate with a big beehive hairdo and exaggerated eyeliner. Amy looks well and healthy here, and her relaxed pose gives a calm feeling to the photo. Seeing the singer at home like this makes the photo feel intimate, and it’s a rare glimpse of Amy within the comforting walls of her London apartment.
24 Prince Was A Fashion Icon Even Before He Achieved Fame
There are few artists living or dead that match the legendary status Prince achieved, and the loss of this great artist in 2017 broke hearts the world over. Prince was instrumental in musical innovation and was a pioneering force in making new sounds. Before Prince became the icon we all know and love, however, he was simply a boy from Minnesota by the name of Prince Rogers Nelson. This photo shows a young 19-year-old Prince out on the streets in 1977. As we can see, this iconic artist was already a fashionable, influential man even then, before he shot to fame and became one of the most famous people in the world. This is truly a rare glimpse of Prince on the cusp of greatness, and an inspiring look at how far someone can go through following their dreams.
23 Carrie Fisher Will Always Be Princess Leia To Us
There was no one quite like Carrie Fisher and the news of her death in 2016 not only filled Star Wars fans with grief but dismayed everyone who had ever seen or met Carrie too. She was an absolute force of nature, whose glowing personality, wit, humor, and charm made her everyone’s favorite Hollywood star.
This photo was taken behind-the-scenes on set and features Carrie as Princess Leia, the iconic role she will always be most associated with.
It shows Carrie having fun, alongside her co-star Mark Hamill, and it was an absolute to joy to look at the actress’ glowing smile and carefreeness. The loss of this wonderful woman was incredibly tragic, but her legacy lives on in her wide and varied screen career, her army of loyal fans, and through her daughter, actress Billie Catherine Lourd.
22 Robin Williams Was Always The King Of Comedy
Robin Williams will always be remembered as being one of the funniest, most beloved comedians to ever live, and his tragic passing in 2014 was a huge loss for everyone. This picture of Robin was taken in 1977 by Wynn Miller, outside of the Comedy Store in Los Angeles where the comedian would often drop in and perform. As we can see, even in his early career, Robin Williams was always about the laughs, and his knack for wacky, unexpected humor is what made him a sensational actor and a legendary comic. Robin Williams was especially known for his wide variety of voices and impressions he could do, which he started doing even during his early days in the comedy clubs, like the one we see in the picture.
21 Hugh Hefner Wasn't The Best Father Figure
We all know Hugh Hefner as the creator of the Playboy brand, and many people have mixed feelings about this media mogul. When we think of Hugh, an image of him surrounded by scantily clad women usually comes to mind, as do pictures of him in his red smoking jacket, usually in the company of much younger women.
That’s why this picture here is so striking because it offers a completely different view of him: that of a father. Being a paternal figure isn’t something we usually associate with Hefner, but here we see him holding his child.
Hugh had four kids in total, and the Playboy creator has admitted that he was “an absent dad.” Clearly, Hugh Hefner chose to focus more on his career than on his kids, but here we see a rare glimpse of him showing some fatherly kindness.
20 Nancy Reagan Showed Her A Team Spirit
Nancy Reagan was the former first lady of the United States, married to Ronald Reagan. Although she was the president’s wife, Nancy became known as a politician in her own right, with a strict anti-drugs campaign and encouraging awareness surrounding breast cancer. She was always quite glamorous and stylish, and more than a little conservative. That’s why it’s so funny to see this rare picture of Nancy with none other than the A Team’s Mr. T. The photo was taken at the White House Christmas party in 1983, and it’s safe to say that this pair of celebs isn’t usually one that people would put together. Coming from very different backgrounds and having very different personalities, Mr. T and Nancy seem to be getting along just great nonetheless, and this definitely makes for a memorable picture.
19 David Bowie Was Truly Out Of This World
This photo of the late, great David Bowie is from a rare collection of portraits taken of the artist in when he was just 20 years old. The picture we see was snapped right before Bowie’s first eponymous debut album was released in 1967. David Bowie was hugely influential in the world of music and became one of the most celebrated and most unique musicians in history.
He was also known as a major fashion icon, and his androgynous style was innovative and daring in so many ways. Here we see Bowie in clown makeup, but even in this early shot, we can see that he had a taste of being different and standing out from the crowd.
Soon after this photo was taken, the Ziggy Stardust singer would skyrocket to fame, and the world of music would never be the same.
18 Philip Seymour Hoffman Was A College Kid Like Any Other
Philip Seymour Hoffman sadly passed away in 2014, but he left behind a cinematic legacy that lives on in our hearts. Famous for films such as Capote, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, and The Hunger Games among many others, Philip Seymour Hoffman was inspirational in his acting in so many different ways. This photo we see here is of a young Hoffman, taken while he was at New York University. As we can see, Philip was just like any messy college student, and it’s a rare treat to see the venerable actor in this candid shot during his youth. Hoffman battled a lot of vices during his career, so it’s wonderful to see a healthy, happy-looking picture of him, especially as we don’t usually get to see a young-looking Hoffman in most photos of him.
17 Muhammad Ali Wasn't Always Out For A Fight
Muhammad Ali was known as “The World’s Greatest” and has gone down in history as being one of the most talented and influential boxers in history. His “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee” motto is known the world-over, and aside from his great sporting skills, he was also an activist.
We usually see photos of this great boxer either in the boxing ring or getting prepared for a fight, so it’s rare to see him outside the realm of the boxing world.
This picture, however, shows Muhammad when he was still known as Cassius Clay, having a drink with some women at a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky in 1963. Clay seems to be having a good time, and it’s interesting to get a glimpse of what his day-to-day life was like when he wasn’t fighting.
16 Whitney Houston Still Shines Bright In our Hearts
It was a sad day when Whitney Houston’s death was announced in 2012, and the music world mourned the loss of this bright, talented star. Whitney’s music touched many people’s lives and filled people with a joy and happiness that is indescribable. Famed for having one of the most incredible voices in music history, Whitney was a trailblazer in countless ways during her career. This photo shows a young Whitney before she hit huge stardom. Before becoming the world-famous singer that she was, Whitney also did some work as a model and was featured in numerous magazine features and covers. She was never really considered a fashion icon, but with a voice like hers, it didn’t really matter what she wore. It was all about those vocals.
15 There Was A Time When Florence Henderson Was Without “The Bunch”
Florence Henderson was best known for her television role on The Brady Bunch, playing the loving mother Carol Brady. Aside from her Brady part though, Florence also appeared in many other shows, including The Love Boat, 30 Rock, and The King of Queens. In 2016, she passed away but left behind a career that saw her performances enjoyed and celebrated by many fans.
This photo of Florence was taken very early on in her career, in 1960, for a CBS special. She was playing the role of a 20th Century dancer and looks stunning in her feathered tiara.
Throughout her life, Florence was always a beauty, even as she got older. This is a rare glimpse of Florence before her big hit playing Carol Brady, and a peek at what she looked like in her much younger days as an actress.
14 Anton Yelchin Was A Budding Photographer
It was a true tragedy when Anton Yelchin passed away suddenly in 2016 due to a freak accident. He was perhaps best known for playing Chekov in Star Trek and had a wide and varied acting career that included both film and TV work. Although Yelchin was a well-known actor, most people probably don’t know that he was also a photographer. This photo comes from a collection of photographs taken by Yelchin over a six-year period that he was planning on showing in an exhibit. Sadly he passed away before he got to realize this dream, but the photos were shown shortly after he died in an exhibition called “Anton Yelchin: Provocative Beauty.” As we can see, this photo is a self-portrait and was included in the works of Yelchin’s that were put on a show.
13 Fidel Castro Was A Baseball Lover
Fidel Castro was the communist leader who ruled over Cuba for almost 50 years, and during his reign, he was seen as both a tyrant and a revolutionary. Aside from being a political leader, Castro was also a fervent baseball fan.
Here we see a rare photo of the Cuban politician playing the sport known as “America’s national pastime”, which is a little strange considering how anti-USA Castro was.
Then again, Cubans are known to love baseball, so seeing the leader of the country playing it might not be that big of a surprise after all.Either way, this is a rare chance to see the political leader kicking back and having some fun, which is usually a side of Castro that isn’t usually depicted in photos.
12 George Michael Kept Some Royal Company
George Michael was a pop icon best known for his songs “Faith”, “Careless Whisper”, and of course while in his band Wham, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas.” While everyone knows George Michael as a talented, pioneering musician, you might not be aware that he became close friends with Princess Diana.
This photo shows George and Diana spending time with each other at the Concert of Hope for World AIDS Day in 1994. The two are said to have gotten along very well, and Diana often confided in George about her marital problems with Prince Charles.
This is a rare photo of this perhaps unlikely pair, before both of their deaths. Both George Michael and Princess Diana had very tumultuous lives, so this photo of them finding some kindness and happiness in each other is extremely touching.
11 Mary Tyler Moore Was A Pioneering Beauty
Mary Tyler Moore sadly passed away in 2017 but her amazing career and megawatt smile will never be forgotten. Famous for starring in the sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Tyler Moore was a television icon and a true America’s sweetheart. Aside from being an actress, she was also a talented dancer, and she was very much responsible for helping to redefine American womanhood in the 1970s. This photo of Mary Tyler Moore is an intimate picture of her playing the guitar. She looks absolutely gorgeous in it, as she did throughout her career. Usually, Moore is pictured with a big smile, so this photo is slightly different as it captures her in a more quiet, contemplative mood.
10 Tom Petty Shows A Playful Side At The Grocery Store
Tom Petty, the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, tragically passed away in 2017. Tom Petty also previously led Mudcrutch, was the co-founder of the Travelling Wilburys and had a prolific solo career to boot.
Petty was a much-loved musical icon and his passing was a terrible hit to fans of his sound. This picture, taken in 1992, features the singer-songwriter at the grocery store with a shopping cart filled to the brim with junk food.
It’s a fun photo that shows a playful, silly side to the singer, and also features some typical grunge-wear of the 90s period. Tom Petty’s legacy was celebrated at this year’s Oscars with Eddie Vedder singing a rendition of Petty’s song “Room at the Top” as an accompaniment to the In Memoriam portion of the evening.
9 Debbie Reynolds Might Have Died From A Broken Heart
It was heartbreaking to hear that just one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher, actress Debbie Reynolds passed away too in December 2016. Debbie Reynolds was most famous for her role in the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain but was also nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the 1964 film The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Aside from being a talented actress, Debbie was also a committed philanthropist and Hollywood heritage preservationist. Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie were extremely close, and this photo of the two of them when Carrie was just a baby is a beautiful reminder of the loving relationship they shared. So close were this mother and daughter pair, that people have said that Debbie’s passing just a day after her daughter, was because she died of a broken heart.
8 Alan Rickman Wasn't Always Serious Severus Snape
Alan Rickman was one of the many iconic celebrities who passed away in 2016, and his death came as a shock to everyone. The venerable actor had an extensive and varied acting career, starring in countless films including the Harry Potter series, Die Hard and Love Actually.
He was especially known for his very deep, emotive voice, and naturally, his incredible skills as an actor. This picture shows Alan Rickman having fun with Daniel Radcliffe during the time they were filming the Harry Potter films together.
For someone whom we usually associate with being quite serious, this photo shows Alan Rickman having fun with his co-star, smiling, and being care-free. This is a wonderful snap of the two actors behind the scenes, and a beautiful testament to Rickman’s incredible personality.
7 Chuck Berry Helped Invent Rock And Roll
Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music, whose songs “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Maybelline” are some of the most iconic tunes of the 1950s rock era. With his signature "duck walk" and completely new sound, Chuck Berry was a huge hit with teens at the time and his songs continue to be enjoyed and celebrated today. This photo of Berry shows the musician in London, England, standing next to one of the city’s iconic street signs. Chuck Berry spent time in London recording songs in 1965, which is when this rare picture was taken. Berry looks very stylish in this picture, and although he was always known more for his music than his fashion, we can still admit that he looks like a pretty dapper gent in this snap.
6 Maya Angelou Was Inspirational In Countless Ways
Dr. Maya Angelou is probably best known for being a writer and a poet, but she was also a prolific civil rights activist, a dancer, a model, and a singer too. This incredible woman accomplished so many brilliant things in her life and has continued to serve as an inspiring force for women and men to this day.
In this rare photo of Maya Angelou from the 1950s, we see her lounging in a relaxed way before going onstage to sing at a performance in New York.
Maya Angelou was known as Miss Calypso during her singing career, and she sang calypso music that was very in vogue at the time. It is rare to see these early photos of Maya Angelou, especially of her time being a singer and a performer, as later in life she was certainly known more for her activism and writing.
5 James Gandolfini Was A TV Treasure
James Gandolfini was certainly best known for his major role in the hit TV series The Sopranos, in which he played Tony Soprano. He was a formidable actor, whose acting career spanned many projects, including both television and film work. James Gandolfini is responsible for playing a huge part in changing the nature of TV as we know it, and his antihero persona on The Sopranos was nothing short of revolutionary. James was known for playing a tough, Italian mob character, but this photo we see here shows a friendly, happy man, which is how most of his friends and family remember him. He was much loved by fans of the show, and his loss was a terrible blow to many people. Rumors of a Sopranos spin-off and prequel movie are currently in the works, but we doubt it could ever be the same without the genius of Gandolfini.
4 Margaret Thatcher Was An Iron Lady Even In Her Spare Time
Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the UK, is a woman whose career has polarized opinions and she has gone down in history as being a very controversial figure. Known as the “Iron Lady”, Thatcher was known for her firmness when it came to making political decisions and her no-nonsense attitude. In spite of the many faults she has been accused of, it can’t be denied that Thatcher was an incredibly strong woman, and the fact that she was the first-ever female Prime Minister of the country made her a political pioneer and a source of inspiration for many women. This rare picture shows Margaret Thatcher hard at work at 10 Downing Street in the 1980s and gives us an intimate look at what Thatcher’s time alone was like. This photo shows a more casual view of the former Prime Minister that we’re usually used to, giving her a more human, approachable feel.
3 Steve Jobs Wasn't Always The Serious Apple Man
Steve Jobs was undeniably a genius. The co-founder of Apple computers made a seismic impact on the world of technology, and we have him to thank for much of the computing innovation that we use today.
Jobs passed away in 2011 but left behind an enormous legacy and few entrepreneurs have had as successful a career as this man had. This rare photo of the Apple magnate was taken in 1984 when Steve Jobs was 29 years old.
It shows Steve looking relaxed and happy, which is a change from the rather serious and stony-faced images we got used to seeing him later on in life. Jobs was known to be somewhat of a recluse, so this photoshoot session from which this picture was taken is something of a rarity. It’s nice to see a more human, comfortable image of the Apple co-founder.
2 Glen Campbell Kept Company With The King
Glen Campbell, whose most famous song is “Rhinestone Cowboy”, sadly passed away in 2017. Glen’s music was known the world-over and he was one of the few artists to truly make a successful country-pop music crossover. His songs appealed to younger audiences and older people alike, and thanks to his good looks, he was hired to do TV and film work as well. This picture is an amazing snap of Glen Campbell with Elvis Presley in The King’s Jungle Room at his Graceland home. This is an incredible throwback pic straight out of the 1970s, and everything here is vintage gorgeous. From that velvet suit Elvis is wearing to the hefty sideburns Glen is sporting, this is a wonderful sneak into the past, and a beautiful memory from Glen Campbell’s life.
1 Nelson Mandela Was A Peaceful Fighter
Nelson Mandela has gone down in history as one of the greatest, most influential political leaders ever. The South African-born anti-apartheid revolutionary was the country’s first black President and believed in freedom for all. What people might not know about Mandela is the fact that he was an avid boxing fan. When he was a young man, Mandela boxed and did long distance running. Now, you might think that it’s strange that a man who promoted peace and love would be into such a violent sport, but Nelson Mandela was actually more interested in the science behind boxing rather than the actual brutality that was involved in it. He liked to study how the human body could move in order to protect itself. This rare photo shows Mandela pursuing his boxing passion as a young man, on the roof of a building.
Sources: TheGuardian.com, TwentyTwoWords.com, TheRedList.com, IMDB.com, TheMirror.co.uk, DailyMail.co.uk, VanityFair.com, BBC.co.uk, People.com, ESPN.co.uk, Yahoo.com, TheSun.co.uk