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We Only See These Historical Figures as Older – Here’s How They Looked When They Were Young

Madeline Hiltz
(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Historical figures are often immortalized in a specific way. We tend to forget that these figures didn’t always look the way they do in their most famous photos. Taking a look at historical figures at different points in their lives offers us a really interesting perspective.

1. Thomas Edison

young and old Thomas Edison

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images and George Rinhart/ Getty Images)

Inventor Thomas Edison lived to be 84 years old, and owned over 1,000 patents. Because he lived to be so old, we often picture an aged Thomas Edison in our heads. Edison began inventing things at a very young age, developing his first invention at 22 years old.

2. Mahatma Gandhi

Young and Old Mahatma Gandhi

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images and Dinodia Photos/ Getty Images)

Like Thomas Edison, we often picture an older Mahatma Gandhi. Maybe this is because Ben Kingsley portrayed an older Gandhi in the 1982 biopic. Gandhi began his political and social activism at a young age, after being exposed to racial discrimination practiced in South Africa. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, when he was 78 years old.

3. Maya Angelou

young/ old Maya Angelou

(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images and Aaron Rapoport/ Getty Images)

Maya Angelou lived a thousand lives when she was alive. She was best known for her Civil Rights activism, but was also a poet and memoirist. She worked with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X during the Civil Rights movement. When she was younger, she worked as a nightclub singer and dancer in San Francisco.

4. Albert Einstein

young and old Albert Einstein

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

There’s nothing we love more than the photo on the right of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out on his 72nd birthday. The photo on the left is of a younger (more serious) Einstein, taken in 1905 after he published his ground-breaking theory of relativity.

5. Diana Spencer

young/ older Princess Diana

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images and Princess Diana Archive/ Getty Images)

Diana Spencer was the people’s princess and queen of our hearts. Pictured on the left is Lady Di, when she was three years old, at her house in Sandringham. On the right is our favorite picture of Princess Diana taken in 1994, wearing her iconic revenge dress.

6. Queen Victoria

young/ old Queen Victoria

(Photo Credit: Rischgitz/ Getty Images and Bettmann/ Getty Images)

We are accustomed to seeing pictures of Queen Victoria in the later years of her life. Technically speaking, all the photographs of Queen Victoria in her later life are similar because she wore the color black for the last 40 years of her life to mourn her husband, Prince Albert. Before she adopted the color black, Queen Victoria was quite the style icon herself. When she came to power in 1837, she braided her hair in the front, fashioning it into loops, while the back part of her hair was held in place with a bun or braided bun (as pictured above). This hairstyle dominated the Victorian Era.

7. John F. Kennedy

young/ old JFK

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Honestly, John F. Kennedy doesn’t look all that different in youth and adulthood. John F. Kennedy was a student at Harvard University when the photo on the left was taken in 1938. He didn’t age much between 1938 and 1961, when he was President of the United States.

8. Fidel Castro

young and older Fidel Castro

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images and Lois Herman/ Getty Images)

Unlike John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro changed a lot in a short period of time. We often associate Fidel Castro with a beard. He rocked some sort of facial hair for most of his life. Unbelievably, the photo on the left was taken in 1955 and the photo on the right was taken in 1959. Crazy how much a beard can change the way someone looks!

9. Marilyn Monroe

young and older Marilyn Monroe

(Photo Credit: Donaldson Collection/ Getty Images and Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images)

Marilyn Monroe wasn’t always a blonde bombshell! Technically speaking, she was always a bombshell, just not always blonde. The photo on the left was taken in 1946 when Marilyn Monroe was still known as Norma Jeane. Marilyn Monroe started lightening her hair in the mid-1940s. By the time the photo on the right was taken in 1952, Norma Jeane had become Marilyn and achieved the “pillow case white” shade of blonde she was famous for!

10. Frederick Douglass

young and old Frederick Douglass

(Photo Credit: Fotosearch/ Stringer/ Getty Images and Historical/ Getty Images)

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery around 1818 in Maryland. He tried to escape slavery several times growing up, and was successful in 1838 when he was around 20 years old. He became one of the most famous and recognizable abolitionists in the world. He passed away on February 20, 1895, at age 77.

11. Josephine Baker

young/ older Josephine Baker

(Photo Credit: Keystone-France/ Getty Images and Mirrorpix/ Getty Images)

Unlike many people included on this list, we often picture a younger Josephine Baker over an older Josephine Baker. Baker was the most famous woman in France throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During the Second World War, she worked as a spy for the French resistance. She passed away in 1975 when she was 68 years old. Baker was the first American-born woman to receive full French military honors at her funeral.

12. Richard Nixon

young/ old Richard Nixon

(Photo Credit: PhotoQuest/ Getty Images and The White House/ Handout/ Getty Images)

More from us: 9 Final Photos of Famous People Before They Died

Richard Nixon’s eyebrows seemed to have stayed consistent throughout his entire life. The left-hand photograph shows Nixon in 1931 when he was 18 years old. The photograph on the right was taken in 1968 while he was President of the United States.