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Arrested for possession of a concealed weapon. 1961.Woonsocket Police
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American serial killer, child rapist, and cannibal. 1903.Wikimedia Commons
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A Jewish-American mobster. 1928.New York Police Department
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Cult leader and career criminal. 1968.Wikimedia Commons
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An early mugshot of Clyde Barrow of Bonnie And Clyde infamy. Circa 1930.Dallas Police Department
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Notorious serial killer known as the "Son of Sam." 1977.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Charged with the outdated crime of "seduction" for allegedly convincing an unmarried woman of good repute to engage in an "inappropriate" encounter. 1938.Bergen County Sheriff's Office
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Hitler's right-hand man and the commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring was captured by the Allies in 1945 and sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials a year later - a sentence he escaped by ingesting cyanide in his cell 2 hours before his scheduled execution.Wikimedia Commons
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A nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. 1963.Dallas Police Department
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James Earl Ray
Future assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. 1955.Wikimedia Commons
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Arrested for alleged pill smuggling. The charges were later dropped. 1970.AP Images
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Charged with using “vulgar and obscene language." 1969.Tampa Police Department
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Arrested for disturbing the peace. 1963.Tallahassee Police Department
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Convicted for indecent exposure and profanity. 1970.Dade County Sheriff’s Office
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Arrested for drug possession. 1969.Wikimedia Commons
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One of the most famous American bank robbers in history. 1931.Indiana State Prison
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Italian-American crime boss. 1968.Getty Images
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Arrested for possession of illegal drugs. 1965.El Paso County Jail
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Then 33 years old, the future Soviet dictator had a long string of arrests during the Russian Revolution. 1911.Tsarist Secret Police
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American man convicted of giving military secrets to the Soviet Union. 1950.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Arrested for trespassing onto the roof of an abandoned warehouse while intoxicated. 1986.Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images
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Charged with grand larceny. 1971.Wikimedia Commons
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Lee Harvey Oswald
Man accused of killing President John F. Kennedy. 1963.Wikimedia Commons
From Celebrities To Serial Killers: 48 Famous Mugshots Brought To Life In Vivid Color
For many, some of the most memorable images of famous people are the snapshots showing them at their lowest: their mugshots.
Whether the photos show someone high and mighty being brought down or whether they symbolize heroic defiance of authority, the intersection of fame and the criminal justice system is an inherently dramatic one.
Sometimes certain mugshots, like the ones of serial killer David Berkowitz or Nazi Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring, reassure the public that evil people can be brought to justice.
Regardless of the reason, the mugshots of the most famous and infamous figures in modern history become defining chapters in their stories.
Mugshots As Historical Artifacts
Wikimedia CommonsThe mugshot of a 33-year-old Joseph Stalin, held by the Tsar's secret police, in 1911.
Joseph Stalin's 1911 mugshot, for example, offers a compelling historical artifact of Tsarist Russia. Taken by the Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian empire, the mugshot reminds us that the agents behind history's most pivotal events have complicated backstories of their own.
In this case, the future Soviet dictator was then in the midst of his many arrests and exiles during the early years of the Russian Revolution.
Other mugshots record examples of systemic oppression. Those of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks don't reflect the subjects' criminality like most mugshots, but instead indict a criminal justice system that was unequal and oppressive during the civil rights movement.
The willingness of those opposed to the system to subject themselves to its machinations to highlight its issues was an essential step to dismantling that very system.
History's Most Infamous Criminals
New York Police DepartmentThe "Son of Sam," David Berkowitz, after his arrest in 1977.
Much is made of the early mugshots of legendary criminals as well, like Clyde Barrow's, of Bonnie and Clyde infamy. Taken when he was a young man, Barrow's mugshot preceded a period of brutal incarceration that perhaps contributed to him becoming a brutal killer later on.
His time in the Eastham State Farm prison — where he was repeatedly sexually assaulted — only fueled his burning hatred for law enforcement.
The mugshot of Albert Fish belies the absolutely abominable human being that is its subject. Fish, a serial killer and cannibal who terrorized people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wrote a letter to the mother of one of his victims, a 10-year-old girl named Grace Budd.
The sickening note read: "Dear Mrs. Budd, ... On June 3, 1928, I called on you at 406 W. 15 St. and brought you pot cheese and strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat on my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her."
And one could never forget the mugshot of the "Son of Sam," David Berkowitz, an image splashed all over newspapers in New York City during the summer of 1977, telling people that his string of murders was finally over.
Celebrities Behaving Badly
Public DomainThe various mugshots of Lindsay Lohan, the perpetually-troubled star.
Easily the most widely remembered mugshots of recent days are those of celebrities whose run-ins with the law are immortalized in the public consciousness.
Nearly every musician in the 1960s has a mugshot floating around out there, usually for drug possession or disorderly conduct. Jim Morrison of the Doors has more than one.
Famous actors like Al Pacino have mugshots, as do not-so-famous-anymore stars like Lindsay Lohan. Even a young Larry King was once booked by police for grand larceny. Apparently he was unable to pay a financier back money that he owed him.
Then there's O.J. Simpson's mugshot, probably one of the most infamous of the last 30 years. It signaled the beginning of a criminal saga that would captivate the American public and continue to divide public opinion for more than two decades after his not guilty verdict was announced.
Mugshots have clearly become ubiquitous in the media in recent years, but there's no denying their historic impact throughout the last century. It's unlikely that we'll see the end of mugshots any day soon.