Mugshots have been used by police departments since the mid-19th century, right around the time that photography was starting to become more widely available. Nowadays, they’re pretty essential for documentation.
Because they’re so commonplace, it’s not just average joes who have been unfortunate enough to have a mugshot taken. In fact, a ton of the world’s most well-known celebrities and figures have ended up with one.
Here are some of the most infamous mugshots from history—courtesy of some of the most notorious gangsters, killers, and celebrities—and each one is as fascinating as the last!
1. David Bowie was arrested for possession of marijuana after a performance in Rochester, New York, as were three other people including punk singer Iggy Pop. Though the charges eventually were dropped, it was the last time that the rock icon ever performed there.
2. Pablo Escobar may have eventually become one of the most notorious drug kingpins in history, but even he wasn’t immune to the law early in his career. In 1977, he was arrested in Columbia for his connection to drug-related crimes.
3. Before he became the most iconic voice in grunge, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was arrested in his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington. He was booked for being intoxicated as he trespassed onto an abandoned warehouse’s roof on May 25, 1986.
4. After famously boycotting the segregation of buses by refusing to move to the back of the vehicle so a white woman could sit up front, civil rights activist Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 22, 1956.
Richard / Flickr
5. Country legend Johnny Cash was no stranger to legal troubles. He was arrested in El Paso, Texas, for carrying hundreds of tranquilizers and pep pills in his luggage on October 4, 1965. He was coming back from a trip to Juarez, Mexico.
6. Though he would eventually become one of the most brutal dictator’s in history, Joseph Stalin was arrested as a young man in 1911 by the Tsarist police, for participating in revolutionary activities. Of course, those activities would soon lead to him taking over the Soviet Union.
7. One of the most infamous serial killers in history, Charles Manson, was finally arrested on December 2, 1969, for the August 9, 1969 murders of five individuals, including actress Sharon Tate. One of his other charges was conspiracy.
8. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t change the world by always playing by the rules. He was arrested on February 24, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama, for his activity boycotting the segregation of buses.
Jim Forest / Flickr
9. On September 28, 1963, young Jim Morrison, future lead singer of The Doors, was charged with petty larceny, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and public intoxication, after being arrested in Tallahassee, Florida. In his drunkenness, he even stole a police officer’s helmet.
10. Twenty-three-year-old Frank Sinatra was arrested on November 26, 1938 in Hackensack, New Jersey, and charged with adultery and seduction, having been caught “carrying on with a married woman.” Who would have known that he’d soon make a career out of seducing the world with his voice?
jenny wakeman / Flickr
11. Microsoft mogul Bill Gates was arrested on December 13, 1977 for failing to stop at a stop sign, and driving without a license. He doesn’t seem to mind one bit, though. His face says “who cares, someday I’ll be richer than any of you could even imagine!”
12. On November 23, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for one of the most infamous crimes in American history: the murder of President John F. Kennedy. He was murdered himself not long after this shot was taken.
13. In November 1995, legendary gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur had this mugshot taken by the New York State Department of Corrections, after he was convicted of sexually abusing a female fan in November 1993.
Sean / Flickr
14. O.J. Simpson was arrested on June 17, 1994 in Brentwood, California, after the infamous car chase that stemmed from the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, as well as her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Andrew Weaver / Flickr
15. On December 22, 1978, serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Norwood Park, Illinois, for a string of 33 murders that took place between 1972 and 1978. On May 10, 1994, he was executed.
16. Television and radio show host Larry King was arrested on December 20, 1971 in Miami, Florida, on charges of grand larceny. He was accused of stealing $5,000 from a business partner, though the charges were eventually dropped.
Miami Police Department / Wikimedia Commons
17. Vladmir Lenin was arrested on December 21, 1895, in St. Petersburg, Russia, for participating in revolutionary Marxist activities. Little did the police know that such activities would soon completely change Russia.
18. Actor Steve McQueen, the “King of Cool,” was arrested on June 22, 1972 in Anchorage, Alaska, for drunk driving and speeding. He doesn’t seem to be too upset about it, though, as he holds up the “peace” sign!
19. Legendary rock and roll singer/guitarist Jimi Hendrix was arrested on May 3, 1969 at the Toronto International Airport for possession of narcotics. His drug use was widely publicized and heavily influenced his music.
Johnny Myers / Flickr
20. In Bern, Switzerland, on June 19, 1903, 20-year-old Benito Mussolini was arrested when he was suspected to be an anarchist. Later in life, he turned out to be quite the opposite as one of the most feared fascist leaders in history.
21. In 1944, Malcolm X was arrested for larceny in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time, however, he was still known by his birth name, Malcolm Little. He wouldn’t start signing his name as Malcolm X until 1950.
six7777 / Flickr
22. This is just one of John Dillinger’s mugshots from his extensive life of crime during the Great Depression. He spent time in jail for assault, murder, and robbery, before being shot down by police on July 22, 1934.
Aaron Mitchell / Flickr
23. Notorious mafia boss John Gotti looked pretty smug for his mugshot, which was taken after being arrested for loansharking, tax evasion, and murder on December 11, 1990. Eventually, he would be sentenced to a life in prison.
24. Serial killer David Berkowitz, probably better known as Son of Sam, was arrested in Yonkers, New York, on August 11, 1977. To this day, he’s still in prison, as he was convicted of the murder of six individuals.
bossanoven / Wikimedia Commons
25. Jane Fonda was arrested on November 3, 1970 in a Cleveland, Ohio, airport for kicking a police officer and smuggling drugs. Fonda, however, insists that she was targeted by the Nixon White House for her progressive and anti-war political views. After all, she was only carrying vitamins!
26. After a string of grisly crimes including rapes, dismemberment, and 17 murders, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was finally arrested in Milwaukee on July 23, 1991. He was convicted and sent to prison before another inmate killed him on November 28, 1994.
27. Gangster Charles “Lucky” Luciano was considered the father of the American mafia; he was arrested on February 2, 1931. He definitely looks like a “tough guy” here, but even he wasn’t immune to the law.
28. Serial killer Ted Bundy was held in Florida on February 13, 1980 for his connection to the deaths of at least 30 individuals. He was convicted for several murders, and on January 24, 1989, he was executed at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida.
29. On February 12, 1928, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel posed for his mugshot while being held in New York City. He was eventually shot to death at the home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, in Beverly Hills, California.
30. Mick Jagger, the charismatic lead singer of The Rolling Stones, was arrested for obstructing a police officer and attacking a paparazzo on July 18, 1972 in Warwick, New York. Stones guitarist Keith Richards was also arrested.
31. Actor Hugh Grant was arrested on June 27, 1995 after soliciting oral sex from a prostitute in his car. Nonetheless, his career continued to hold strong, going on to appear in such films as Love Actually and Notting Hill.
32. Al Capone was arrested by city police on May 8, 1930 while trying to enter Miami, Florida. He was just 33 years old, but in his time as a gangster, he became one of the must notorious criminals in American history.
Ela Vaidosa / Flickr
Whether these mugshots are from gangsters, serial killers, or pop culture icons, each one is surprisingly revealing. You can tell a lot about a person when they’re in trouble!
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