Funny Historical Photos

Those ancestors of ours had a sense of humor - amateurs and professionals!
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Based on the solemn non-smiling expressions of our ancestors in old photos, you'd think they didn't have a sense of humor. Well these pictures prove we're wrong. Since it's inception, photography has been used to capture some of the funnier moments in time.

Laughter really is the best medicine. Physically, it boosts your immunity, lowers your stress hormones, decreases your pain, relaxes your muscles, and can prevent heart disease. Mentally, laughing is said to add joy and zest to your life, ease anxiety and tension, relieve your stress level, improve your mood, and strengthen your resilience. Even a smile can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immunity, and prolong your life.

Even bad jokes can make you smile or laugh. Consider these short jokes that may make you groan:
  • My dog used to chase people on a bike. It got so bad, I had to take his bike away!
  • Everyone asks where's Waldo . . . Nobody asks how's Waldo.
  • What did the finger say to the thumb? I'm in glove with you.
  • What's red and bad for your teeth? A brick.
  • Why did the picture go to jail? Because he was framed!.
  • What do you call an empty jar of Cheese Whiz? Cheese Was!

Okay, maybe they didn't make you laugh or smile but bet your mood has lightened a bit. Now scroll through these vintage pictures of our ancestors having fun, cutting up, or making a living from making us laugh. You'll feel better - and maybe live longer!

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A photo of The Worley Famiy, 1949R-L. Lester Duane Worley, Virginia G. Stubbs Worley in silly picture at Long Beach Pike. Other couple is unknown.
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May 11, 1920 - Mar 18, 2013
Added Feb 19, 2016 by: Lauren Worley
Lauren Worley
84 favorites
A photo of Bill Leonard with his pet pony. Around 1918 in Calhoun County, Florida. Bill married Alice Louise Foster.
People in this photo:
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Added Jan 17, 2016 by: James Carey Yates
James Carey Yates
160 favorites
Anyone know the Halloween Fairytale of the Gnome and the four kitties? I didn't think so but why would these 5 people be acting it out?!
Added Oct 23, 2013 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
Jonathan Winters as "Maude Frickert" one of his many hilarious characters. Jonathan Harshman Winters III was born November 11, 1925 in Dayton Ohio. While his grandfather had owned a bank and his father was an investment banker, like many families of the era the Great Depression of the 1930's decimated the family's fortunes. His parents separated and he and his mother moved to Springfield Ohio to live with his grandmother. After serving in the Marines in World War 2, he went on to study cartooning and met his wife (married until her death in 2009), Eileen Schauder. They had two children. After leaving the art career he was pursuing and entering radio, Jonathan broke into television and movies, becoming one of the most famous comedians of his day. His comedic characters ranged from Maude Frickert (shown) to impersonating the voice of President John Kennedy on the Jack Paar show. Another generation of television watchers knew him as "Mearth" the son of the title characters on "Mork and Mindy." He was a comedic hero of Robin Williams. Jonathan died on April 11, 2013 at the age of 87 in Montecito, California. He brought a lot of laughter and joy to generations of Americans and will be sorely missed.
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Nov 11, 1925 - Apr 11, 2013
Added Apr 12, 2013 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
3.04k+ favorites
A picture of an unnamed Balter couple, taken at Coney Island New York in 1921. "Trip to Mars"!
Added Nov 19, 2012 by: Alva Noonan
Alva Noonan
29 favorites
It looks like this Daddy is ready for Halloween but the little girl? Not so much! The date, location, and names in this photo are unknown but it looks to be the 1930's. And to tell you the truth, if I saw this face on Halloween, I might be scared, too!
A group of men on a "spooky" Halloween. This photo seems to be a group of pirates with a skeleton behind them - perhaps it was a "cautionary photo" with a message from the 1930's? It seems to have some kind of message since the photo is signed by "Gray" and so it is a professional photo. The date of the photo and the names of the men are unknown.
Woman sitting on a child's tricycle. No identifying marks on photo.
Added Oct 25, 2012 by: Sharon Hillis
Sharon Hillis
702 favorites
A photo of Phyllis Diller (born Phyllis Ada Driver) in 1955 as a contestant on the Groucho Marx show, "You Bet Your Life". Phyllis was born July 17, 1917 in Lima Ohio. Although she trained as a musician, she began her show business career in Oakland, California in 1952 on a 15 minute television show called "Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker". (Sounds like she was already perfecting her homemaker comedy act!) Her first stand-up act was at the famous Purple Onion in San Francisco, California in 1955. She was famous for making jokes about herself and her husband, "Fang." And for her laugh of course. She pursued a long career as a stand-up comic and in both movies and television, as well as on stage. Her trademark cigarette in a long holder was a prop - she never smoked! Her first husband was Sherwood Anderson Diller, with whom she had 6 children. She was briefly married actor Warde Donovan. Phyllis Ada (Driver) Diller died on August 20, 2012 at home, at age 95,
People in this photo:
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Jul 17, 1917 - Aug 20, 2012
This is a funny vintage photo strip that shows our ancestors DID have a sense of humor. They just had to keep the same face for extended periods of time as photos could take minutes to finish processing.
Added Apr 11, 2012 by: Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna
6.27k+ favorites
Great photo of a little girl (or boy?) with a corn cob pipe. (Let's hope he/she never picked up the habit). A miniature photo mounted on an decoratively embossed card. From a collection that belonged to a family in Northwest Louisiana. Picture taken probably around 1900-1910
Added Mar 16, 2012 by: Ilike Photos
Ilike Photos
91 favorites
Puppeteer Shari Lewis with her puppets Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse taken in 1960.
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Jan 17, 1933 - Aug 2, 1998
Two men in suits "riding" Halley's Comet. Postcard. Inscription: "Guess Who". Addressed to Mrs. A. G. Vernon, Waynesburg, Pa, Lock Box 717" Man in back is Arthur Glenn Vernon. Man in front is unknown. Postcard is postmarked PITTSBURG, PA. Aug 12, 7-PM, 1910
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Mar 20, 1878 - May 31, 1959
I've absolutely no knowledge about the story behind this one...but I ran across this and just had to put it up here.
Added Nov 24, 2020 by: Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna
6.27k+ favorites
Famous comedians Sam Kinison with Rodney Dangerfield.
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Dec 8, 1953 - Apr 10, 1992
Added Nov 18, 2020 by: Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna
6.27k+ favorites
Carroll and Harold were on leave together probably sometime either in 1947 or 1948. Always practical jokers and fun-loving, they decided to have their picture made at a photographer's studio. The background in the picture is a backdrop. They knew that their mother, Nora, would not approve of them being in a bar (see the Wiskey [sic] sign over Harold's shoulder) so the purposely selected this background to poke fun at her. She was not amused, I was told.
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Apr 7, 1928 - May 29, 2004
who knows what or when was going on in this picture....
People in this photo:
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Jan 9, 1891 - Mar 4, 1951
Added Sep 23, 2020 by: Lynne Norris
Lynne Norris
32 favorites
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"To myself with much love & good wishes. I remain your loving friend "myself"" Old postcard: Study by C. Reid
Added Sep 23, 2020 by: Jesse Dean Williams
Jesse Dean Williams
302 favorites
J. Colby postcard, published by Celebrity Art Company Brothers.
Just going by the woman's shoes, I am guessing photo may be from the 1910's but could be later. Unknown people.
Man finds a statue in the park that he could use for an unusual photo. Unknown man. Guess the 30's.
This is a photo of Unknown Laughing Woman added by Jesse Dean Williams on September 5, 2020.
This is a photo of Timmins family added by Savannah Brooke on April 14, 2020.
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Unknown - Unknown
Added Apr 14, 2020 by: Savannah Brooke
Savannah Brooke
131 favorites
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This is a photo of George Munro Jr. added by Savannah Brooke on April 14, 2020.
Added Apr 14, 2020 by: Savannah Brooke
Savannah Brooke
131 favorites
Botton, l to r: Richard Eshner, Janet Bonney Andrews, Lucian Tercyak Top: cousin of Richard Eshner
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Jun 11, 1946 - Aug 28, 1985
Added Feb 22, 2020 by: Lucian Tercyak
Lucian Tercyak
9 favorites
A photo of Susan and Fred Wittman
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Unknown - Unknown
Added Oct 23, 2019 by: Thomas Brett
Thomas Brett
80 favorites
A funny photo of Fred Wittman
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Unknown - Unknown
Added Oct 23, 2019 by: Thomas Brett
Thomas Brett
80 favorites
I found this cabinet card in an antique store in Georgetown, Texas. I thought her expression was priceless. She seems to be watching her fancy curls intently as though she is worried about whether they will stay in place for the photo. From her clothing, I'm guessing this was taken in the late 19th century. The photographer is listed as Geo. A. Harris of 150 State Street, Chicago, Illinois. I'll upload the fancy ad on the back separately.
There's no name or any other identifying information on this photo. I found him in central Texas, so I think it's likely the photo was taken somewhere in that area. He looks like he's enjoying that rare snowfall. Internet searches revealed that the winter of 1894-1895 was unusually cold in much of the northern hemisphere. The coast of the Gulf of Mexico got unusually heavy snowfalls in February 1895. Much of Texas got hit around the middle of February, especially along the coast. The National Weather Service website says this: "February 12-15, 1895 - Widespread snow over the state, even as far south as the lower Valley. North Texas received between 3-5 inches, but a band of 10-20 inches blanketed the upper Texas coast, including Houston and Beaumont/Port Arthur."
Added Aug 13, 2019 by: Roxy Triebel
Roxy Triebel
1.32k+ favorites
A photo of Earl Edward Smith with an unidentified lady friend in 1923. Grandpa is being silly and wearing her hat.
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May 1, 1900 - May 22, 1982
Added May 19, 2019 by: Roxy Triebel
Roxy Triebel
1.32k+ favorites
A photo of ? Van Kleinstad (my Dad) and a monkey. Must have been in a department store in 1960's Birmingham. There was obviously a photo stand with a chimp available that day.
Added Mar 15, 2019 by: Klark Van Kleinstad
A Carnival Photo: Gertrude and Olga Fegley with Jim Berry
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Unknown - Unknown
Added Oct 29, 2018 by: Andy Scott
Andy Scott
101 favorites
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A photo of Thomas George Devey What's written on the back of the postcard at https://www.ancientfaces.com/photo/thomas-george-devey/1321798
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Unknown - Jul 23, 1916
Added Apr 29, 2018 by: Virginia Boaz
Virginia Boaz
4 favorites
I’ve “rescued” an old photograph of Florence CHAMPLAIN and Pauline BENHAM of Portland, OR which was taken at the Cousin Studio in Portland sometime in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s. The two appear to be in their teens at the time the photograph was taken. Based on limited research I was able to locate the following information regarding these two women and their families: Florence CHAMPLAIN was b. 1887 and married Frank H. IRWIN (1881-1941). Florence died 27 Mar 1968 and is buried in the River View Cemetery in Portland, OR. Pauline BENHAM was b. 24 Oct 1882 in Portland, OR and was married to W. L. JOHNSON. She died 6 Aug 1921 in Humboldt County, CA on board the steamer “Alaska” which sank of the coast of California and is buried in the Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum in Portland, OR. Probate Court records list her Mother as Mrs. Ella May HUTCHINSON and notes that her husband was killed as well when the steamship sank. Her husband was identified in records as an invalid at the time. The couple owned property in Tillamook County, OR at the time of their death. Census records provide the following details: 1900 census of Portland, OR: Ella BENHAM, age 40, born Feb 1860, divorced after 20 years, 2 children/2 living, born IA, parents born NY/WA Pauline BENHAM, dau, age 19, born Oct 1881, born IL, parents born IA/IN Author A. BENHAM, son, age 17, born Oct 1883, born OR, parents born IA, a Shipping Clerk Martha MORRIS, mother, age 70, born Oct 1830, born IN, parents born IN/IA Josiah ATKINSAN, age 77, born Feb 1823, married 24 years, born VT, parents born England, a Capitalist Jennie ATKINSAN, wife, age 42, born Mar 1858, married 24 years, 4 children/3 living, born CA, parents born Scotland Florence CHAMPLAIN, step-dau, age 17, born Dec 1882, born OR, parents born MA/CA 1910 census of Portland, OR: Joseph M. ARTHUR, age 51, 1st marriage 21 years, born WI, parents born IA/WI, a Machinery Merchant Amelia A. ARTHUR, wife, age 53, 2nd marriage 21 years, 2 children/2 living, born IL, parents born IL Charles B. ARTHUR, son, age 19, born OR Frank H. IRWIN, son age 31, married 4 years, born KS, parents born Canada/IL, a Wholesale Machinery Salesman Florence H. IRWIN, dau-in-law, age 26, married 4 years, no children, born OR, parents born France/OR 1920 census of Astoria, OR: Frank H. IRWIN, age 40, born CA, parents born Canada/KS, a Commission Broker Florence B. IRWIN, wife, age 33, born OR, parents born France/CA 1930 census of Portland, OR: Frank H. IRWIN, age 49, married at age 25, born CA, parents born Canada/KS, a Motor Company Manager Florence B. IRWIN, wife, age 44, married at age 22, born OR, parents born France/CA 1940 census of Portland, OR: Frank H. IRWIN, age 58, born CA, a Retail Hardware Salesman Florence IRWIN, wife, age 52, born OR I’m hoping to locate someone from one of their families so that the photograph can be returned to its right place, with family. If you are a member of one of their families or you know someone who might be, please contact me. Thanks, Shelley
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Now that's one mobile face!
Added Dec 13, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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It's obviously tea for two!
Added Dec 13, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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Stuffing phone booths used to be a thing - when there were phone booths - but stuffing a car with swans?
Added Dec 13, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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A girl walking her alligator?
Added Dec 13, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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A photo of a girl from a carnival sideshow. Four legs!
Added Dec 13, 2017 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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A photo of Ina Viola Hicks and friends acting silly
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Unknown - Unknown
Added Sep 13, 2017 by: Jill Milas
Jill Milas
28 favorites
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A photo of a dog - Novelty photo from the 1880s... some things never change.
Added Aug 11, 2017 by: Anjel Candy
Anjel Candy
217 favorites
A photo of Garland Franklin Clifton - U.S. Solider In A Native Grass Skirt - Milne Bay Nov 1942 In A Native Grass Skirt ...A James A Fazzi Sr Picture
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Dec 6, 1922 - Unknown
Added Jul 8, 2017 by: Jim Fazzi
Jim Fazzi
78 favorites
A photo of U.S. Solider In A Native Grass Skirt, surname Barcus - In a Native Grass skirt Nov 1942..........A James A Fazzi Picture
Added Jul 8, 2017 by: Jim Fazzi
Jim Fazzi
78 favorites
This was in the family photo albums and we are not sure of the identity, but believe it to have been my grandmother's brothers and step brother. The brothers would be James Wesley and Robert Louis Robertson and probably center and right, the stepbrother William Olsan. We are not sure. Probably about 1920.
Added Jan 24, 2017 by: Alan Mizell
Alan Mizell
53 favorites
This was in the family photo albums and we are not sure of the identity, but believe it to have been my grandmother's brothers and stepbrother. The brothers would be James Wesley (center?) and Robert Louis Robertson (left?), the stepbrother William Olsan. We are not sure. Probably about 1920.
Added Jan 24, 2017 by: Alan Mizell
Alan Mizell
53 favorites
A photo of Gabriel Carroll "Gabe" Franks and Florence Miller Franks
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Aug 22, 1876 - 1943
Added Oct 25, 2016 by: Sara Parker
Sara Parker
13 favorites
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A photo of Great Uncle Herman Dieck (1867 - 1946) and great grandfather Henry Johnson (1854 - 1941) had this tintype made in Shawano, Wisconsiin about 1890: Two men posing with girlie magazines in 1890
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1867 - 1946
Added Jul 20, 2016 by: Bruce Paulson
Bruce Paulson
5 favorites
Looks like Ginger Rogers but I'm not sure!
Added Jun 28, 2016 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
A photo of Fred and Anna Marie (Braunger) Kriege. Taken on their honeymoon in California 1920.
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Jul 11, 1889 - Jul 23, 1945
Added May 21, 2016 by: Jan Doss
Jan Doss
558 favorites
These children are terrified of the Easter Bunny - I am too!
Added Mar 16, 2016 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
This baby doesn't look happy to be held by the Easter Bunny - but he isn't the cutest Easter Bunny around!
Added Mar 16, 2016 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
27.0k+ favorites
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