The term “paparazzo” was first coined in 1960 by Federico Fellini, in his film La Dolce Vita. The man had spent years shadowing scandal sheet photographers— the people who, in his words, provided “hedonism’s worrying mirror.” Since then, paparazzi have become a part of celebrity culture, impossible to remove from the celebrities themselves.
We have gotten some truly epic photos from paparazzi over the years, despite their bad reputations. They’re often in the way and incredibly obtrusive, but that’s how some of these pictures were able to be snapped (such as paparazzi getting attacked by celebrities).
Here are some iconic photos of the past 50 years or so, involving some of the most famous celebrities when they're out of their element (not on stage or on screen). Of course, there are more than 20 paparazzi photos that deserve awards, but these are just some of them.
20 Emma Stone And Andrew Garfield Fight For A Cause
In the ageless battle of paparazzi against celebrities, actors Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, who have had an on-again, off-again romance, have always found a way to win. What they do is they bring little signs with them, and when paparazzi show up, they mask their faces with the signs, which link to charitable organizations. They’re trying to do some good in the world, and this isn’t the only time they’ve done this. It’s adorable, funny, and righteous, all at the same time.
19 Sophie Turner And Joe Jonas Being Very Still…
It seems that actress Sophie Turner and her musician husband Joe Jonas have found a way to defeat the paparazzi— by treating them like a terror of T-Rex. It’s said that if you stand very still in front of a T-Rex, it can’t see you— according to Jeff Goldblum, anyway— and Turner and Jonas have applied that same logic to the paparazzi, by staying very, very still while they eat lunch… in the hopes that the picture-taker will leave them alone.
18 Sean Penn In A Brawl
This was one of the first paparazzi fight pics. Just a few short years after he made a name for himself as Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sean Penn was caught by photographer Ron Galella as the actor punched photographer Vinnie Zuffante in the courtyard of Penn’s West 64th Street apartment building in New York. This photo took place on August 29, 1986, and became iconic as a representation of Penn’s growing anger around paparazzi— it wouldn’t be the first time he got in a scuffle with a photographer.
17 Leo DiCaprio Papping Jonah Hill
Sometimes it’s all fun and games when you’re with your friends. After starring in a few films with Jonah Hill, actor Leonardo DiCaprio formed an unlikely friendship with the funny actor. This paparazzo managed to snap a picture of DiCaprio playing a little prank on his incognito friend, when he snuck up behind him and took his photo, in much the same way that paparazzi do, startling and stupefying Hill.
16 Kanye West’s Casual Brawl
In 2013, Kanye West made peace with the paparazzi, despite insisting that Daniel Ramos, the man he had gotten into a scuffle with, set out to antagonize him earlier in the year. According to Kanye, he wasn’t in a great headspace at the time of the attack, as he’d just found out his grandfather was dying. But he told Ramos (who he denies hitting), “We’re in this together.”
15 Alec Baldwin’s Angry Street Scuffle
Alec Baldwin has gotten into his fair share of brawls with paparazzi, and even infamously got kicked off a Delta airlines flight for getting too rowdy. He definitely isn’t the nicest celebrity around, nor does he have the best temper, and that was on full display in 2013 when he got into a fight with a New York photographer and pinned the man against the hood of a car. This was after the 30 Rock veteran had just become a new dad a few days prior.
14 Ron Galella After Marlon Brando Broke His Jaw
In one of the first black and white troll photos ever recorded, here we see the iconic American paparazzo, Ron Galella, trailing a very modern-Val-Kilmer-esque Marlon Brando down a hallway, complete with a football helmet on his head. This came after Galella had his jaw broken by the actor in 1973. He then sued Brando and settled for $40,000. In the 2010 documentary, Galella said, “I don’t want anyone to think they can go around punching me if I am taking their picture. Get that story out, not the money.”
13 Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic Flying Skirt
In 1954, before the word “paparazzi” had even been coined (that happened in the early ‘60s), photographer Sam Shaw shot the famous “flying skirt” image of his friend, Marilyn Monroe, over a sewer grate. Monroe mesmerized a crowd of onlookers when her dress suggestively blew above her knees— something that we wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at these days, but was quite scandalous at the time.
12 Marilyn Monroe Fleeing Photographers
Marilyn Monroe was one of the first “it” women in the world, who everyone just had to have pictures of. She was an accomplished actress alongside being the most beautiful woman in the world, and she couldn’t escape her own fame. As we can see here, in a photo subject that has become all too common in today’s world, Monroe is sporting a pair of sunglasses while she flees the onslaught of paparazzi hot on her tail, trying to run without stumbling over her skirt.
11 Post Malone Choking Out Justin Bieber
Before he was super famous because of his music, Post Malone shot to stardom when this image of him choking out Justin Bieber at a nightclub hit the interwebs. The picture circulated the internet and people trolled Bieber for eons over it. Some even exclaimed how much it looked like a Renaissance painting, and even photoshopped the picture into the midst of similar paintings from the Renaissance era, in hilarious fashion.
10 Sad Keanu
This infamous photo has sparked a generation of memes centering on actor Keanu Reeves sitting by himself on a park bench, eating a sandwich with a morose, depressed look on his face. No one likes a sad Keanu since he’s one of the nicest people in Hollywood, but that hasn’t stopped people from trolling him since this photo was first taken by Splash News photographer, Ron Asadorian, in May 2010.
9 Paris Hilton And Tinkerbell
In the early 2000s, Paris Hilton was on top of the world. She was the original celebrity famous for simply being famous. She was the new “it” girl, and always alongside her was her adorable Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. In 2003, she had just turned 21 and was having the time of her life. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and her beloved pup passed in 2015, after living a “luxurious,” star-studded life, according to Hilton.
8 Justin Bieber Attacking Cameraman
A few years ago, superstar Justin Bieber got into a bit of a scuffle with a photographer who was egging him on— or he would have, had his bodyguard not held him back. In Bieber’s defense, the at-the-time-19-year-old was standing up for himself from verbal abuse from the mean-spirited paparazzo, and he’d just gotten out of the hospital after collapsing onstage in London’s O2 Arena.
7 Britney Spears Spilling Soda
Britney Spears has a way of always making headlines whenever anything happens to her, and this was no different when she threw her soda at a paparazzo who was angering her. The short-tempered star has a way of letting the paparazzi really get under her skin, as we’ve seen from her meltdown above, and it’s sad that photographers need to try to get a reaction out of her just for the sake of headlines.
6 Mark Wahlberg Fighting The Paparazzi
How does that quote go? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. That’s exactly what actor Mark Wahlberg did here, in hilarious fashion, when he and a couple of his friends turned the tables on the paparazzi, whipped out their cellphones, and snapped pictures of them. Maybe after this awkward situation for the paparazzo, the photographer realized what it was like being under scrutiny all the time, and changed his ways… though we doubt it.
5 Dustin Hoffman Getting Creative
Some celebrities try to hide their faces when the paparazzi show up, or flip them off, scowl at them, or any other multitude of disarming strategies, but not Dustin Hoffman. The legendary actor instead decides to give the paparazzi exactly what they want— a headline that will make people laugh— when he decided to “hide” behind this street sign, and then peek around a column that didn’t do a much better job of hiding him.
4 Dustin Hoffman Gets His Revenge
At least we can all smile knowing that some actors don’t mind the paparazzi that much— they know they’re just trying to do their jobs, and they’ll even play along with them at times. Dustin Hoffman is one of the best at that. Here, a Santa Claus looking Hoffman first “hides” behind a tree, and then whips out an enormous camera to fight the paparazzo at his own game.
3 Britney Spears’ Meltdown
While it might not seem like Britney Spears deserves to be mentioned alongside people such as JFK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Queen Elizabeth, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, it’s important to remember that she was the most famous pop star in the world when she had her meltdown in February of 2007. And there probably isn’t a more iconic public “paparazzi photo” than this one of a bald, angry, umbrella-wielding Spears attacking a paparazzo (and then his car). The green umbrella even sold for $100,000 later on.
2 Haunting Last Photo Of Tupac Shakur
Tupac would arguably become more famous after his death, because of his death. But he was one of the most famous rappers of the ‘90s, making waves in the hip hop genre during a tumultuous time. He was also an actor, activist, and philanthropist. This haunting last photo of Tupac shows the man in the passenger seat on September 7, 1996, leaving a Las Vegas birthday party with Suge Knight, just minutes before he was shot in the infamous drive-by incident.
1 Ben Affleck And Matt Damon’s Oscar Acceptance
In 1997, two little known actors (and directors) by the names of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would shoot to super-stardom overnight, after they wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting, and then won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay that year. Hunting was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two (the other was for Best Supporting Actor, Robin Williams). Damon was just 27 at the time, and Affleck was 25, making them two of the youngest winners in Oscar history.
References: time.com, nydailynews.com, fineartamerica.com