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Funny Historical Photos

Those ancestors of ours had a sense of humor - amateurs and professionals! Read more >>

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.
People in this photo:
Lester Duane Worley
May 11, 1920 - Mar 18, 2013
A photo of Bill Leonard with his pet pony. Around 1918 in Calhoun County, Florida. Bill married Alice Louise Foster.
People in this photo:
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?!
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.
People in this photo:
Jonathan Harshman Winters, Iii
Nov 11, 1925 - Apr 11, 2013
A picture of an unnamed Balter couple, taken at Coney Island New York in 1921. "Trip to Mars"!
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.
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:
Phyllis Ada (Driver) Diller
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.
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
A funny photo of Fred Wittman
People in this photo:
An un-named "real photo" postcard found in an antique store. His expression reminds me of Tim Allen.
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."
A photo of Earl Edward Smith with an unidentified lady friend in 1923. Grandpa is being silly and wearing her hat.
People in this photo:
Earl Edward Smith
May 1, 1900 - May 22, 1982
Kingston, NY, USA
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.
A Carnival Photo: Gertrude and Olga Fegley with Jim Berry
People in this photo:
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
People in this photo:
Thomas George Devey
Died: Jul 23, 1916
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
People in this photo:
Now that's one mobile face!
It's obviously tea for two!
Stuffing phone booths used to be a thing - when there were phone booths - but stuffing a car with swans?
A girl walking her alligator?
A photo of a girl from a carnival sideshow. Four legs!
A photo of Ina Viola Hicks and friends acting silly
People in this photo:
A photo of a dog - Novelty photo from the 1880s... some things never change.
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
People in this photo:
Garland Franklin Clifton
Born: Dec 6, 1922
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
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.
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.
A photo of Gabriel Carroll "Gabe" Franks and Florence Miller Franks
People in this photo:
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
People in this photo:
Herman Dieck
1867 - 1946
A photo of Fred and Anna Marie (Braunger) Kriege. Taken on their honeymoon in California 1920.
People in this photo:
Anna Marie (Braunger) Kriege
Jul 23, 1893 - Mar 21, 1991
These children are terrified of the Easter Bunny - I am too!
This baby doesn't look happy to be held by the Easter Bunny - but he isn't the cutest Easter Bunny around!
A photo of Frank Pando
People in this photo:
Frank Pando
Born: around 1920
California, United States
Unknown family photo - no date, place or names. Appears to be pre-WWI.One of these men might be the name of Bettis
A photo of Francis Sicher
People in this photo:
Francis Sicher
Aug 14, 1904 - October 1973
Sebring, Florida
My uncle Frank Duggar pretending to be drinking moonshine. This picture was taken at 312 High Street in Danville, Ky. in the 1950"s.
People in this photo:
An unknown wedding photo taken in New Jersey by Rossbach Studio - funniest pic that I have found
Joan Rivers (Joan Alexandra (Molinsky) Rosenberg) was born June 8, 1933 In Brooklyn New York, the daughter or immigrant Russian Jews. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College and after trying a few other jobs began a career as a stand up comedian at a time when women weren't accepted as stand up comedians. She was always one gutsy lady - breaking into a career that wasn't easy for a woman, recovering and thriving after the suicide of her husband (which left her bankrupt), changing her image and material to reflect current standards, and working until she died. (Not to much all of the plastic surgery!) Joan died on September 4 2014 in Manhattan, New York - not far from where she was born. This is a picture of her with Johnny Carson on the tonight show, early in her career.
People in this photo:
A picture of Sid Caesar, born Isaac Sidney Caesar to Jewish parents (from Poland and Russia) in Yonkers, New York. He was perhaps best known for the 1950's television show "Your Show of Shows" in which he starred with Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, and Imogene Coca. For those who don't remember "Your Show of Shows", it was a variety show starring these fabulous comedians as well as musical guests and famous actors (Burgess Meredith hosted the premier). After "Your Show of Shows" ended in 1954, he had his own variety hour on tv (Caesar's Hour) and then went on to star in many television shows and movies. He also wrote several books. Born in Yonkers on September 8, 1922, he died February 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. He left us a lifetime of laughter.
People in this photo:
Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar
Sep 8, 1922 - Feb 12, 2014
A photo of Constance Simons, Anne Ives, and Frank Wolff, taken on stage on Wednesday, July 24, 1957
People in this photo:
These Halloween costumes are scary on the "face" of them - homemade costumes were all that were available in the 1930's but did they also have to sacrifice half their bodies for them?
It sounds like the beginning of a Halloween joke! And since these children? adults? are posed with a crystal ball, perhaps there is a joke associated with this that has been lost in time?
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