Ever wonder what it would be like to meet your favourite celebrity without the fame, the fortune, and the costumes? Well, wonder no more! We’re living in the golden era of meeting and greeting as people are taking a liking to their favourite movie or TV stars, living vicariously through them, and even collaborating with them on work. It started with Kate Bosworth and Ryan Gosling in 2014, followed by Kendall Jenner and Travis Scott in 2015, and it’s been steadily growing ever since. Most recently, we’ve seen Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson throw down stylin’ matching tumbles, while Tom Hiddleston, Joe Alleva, and Michael B. Jordan have all gotten in on the action too. It’s a trend that’s here to stay. One thing is for sure – it’s made for some pretty amazing stories!

Whether you love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny that celebrities play an integral part in our culture. They inspire us, they influence us, and at times, they even intimidate us. It’s only natural then that the topic of nude celebrities would arise. What would it be like to see your favourite movie star or musical artist sans-clothes? What’s the most you’ve ever seen of your favourite celebs’ nude moments? We’re about to find out! Let’s take a stroll down memory lane as we look back on the history of nude celebrity photos. We’ll begin in the 1920s and work our way up to the present day. It won’t be easy, but I’m sure you have the mental image in mind already, so let’s get started.

The Jazz Age Of Nakedness

The first celebrity nude photos were most likely taken in the 1920s – an era referred to as the “Jazz Age”. With society still in the throws of the post-war blues, people were looking for escapism and nudity was often used as a tool to achieve that goal. Several famous women, including Josephine Baker, went completely au naturelle and showed off their bodies – something that wasn’t done previously in cinema. Baker’s famous “freedom of fashion” act led to widespread acceptance of nudity among women, which in turn, led to more opportunities for female stars. One of the first male celebs to go totally unclothed was Robert Taylor. In a 1922 photo shoot, the star of such films as “The Bachelor Party” and “Wild Boys of Paris” stripped down for the camera.

The Roaring Twenties

As we move into the roaring twenties, nudity still seems to be prevalent – particularly among famous women. Many famous women of the time, including Hedy Lamarr, Allene Trillin, and others, bared all. Trillin’s photograph, in particular, caused quite a stir and is considered one of the first truly explicit photos of a celebrity. In one of her most famous photos, Trillin stands next to a swimming pool with only her body and a pair of large sunglasses shielding her modesty. As for Lamarr, her film career was mostly played out by 1920 and she decided to go fully unclothed in front of the camera. During this time period, several male stars also began to strip off their clothes – a clear reflection of the times:

  • The Roaring Twenties was a time of sexual liberation and artistic freedom. Women enjoyed unprecedented opportunities and gained more assertiveness. Homosexuality was no longer a taboo and was accepted by all.
  • Hedy Lamarr’s unique beauty and style made her the ideal symbol of the Roaring Twenties. She was admired for her extraordinary good looks and unique style, which was heavily influenced by her upbringing in Morocco. Her all-time best-known red dress has become an iconic symbol of the Roaring Twenties.
  • Allene Trillin’s short career was tragically cut short when she was killed by cancer at the age of 38. However, her name lives on as a result of her groundbreaking 1922 portrait.
  • As the first century drew to a close, a new era of celebrity began to emerge as the roaring twenties got their share of ups and downs. Many famous people lost a lot of money during this time and had to work extra hard to earn their keep. The stock market dropped a full 69% in the year 1929 alone. It was a tough time overall, but many celebrities found a way to shine through. Marilyn Monroe’s face graced the cover of Newsweek magazine at the height of the Great Depression in 1932. In spite of the odds, celebrities still managed to find their way to the forefront.

    The Great Depression

    The Great Depression was a tough time for everyone, but it shaped the 30s and 40s more than anyone could have imagined. It started in the USA in the autumn of 1929 and rapidly spread to other parts of the world. One of the first signs of the Great Depression was the stock market crash in 1930. It wasn’t just about money and losses either – society as a whole felt the impact. People became increasingly isolated as communication became difficult. The economic policies of the day hindered commerce, which in turn, hindered social interaction. It was a vicious circle that left its mark on everyone.

    Isak Dinesen And Marie Dressler

    If you’re unfamiliar, the “Isak Dinesen” stage is named after the famous Danish author who used to visit her friend, Marie Dressler, in California. On one of these visits, their friend, the Duchess of Windsor, decided to throw a party at which both ladies would appear completely naked. Isak Dinesen was a very liberated woman and went without clothes frequently, so the chance to embarrass her friend Marie Dressler in front of a room of strangers was too tempting to miss. The result was one of the first celebrity nude photo shoots, which was documented in a 1935 German movie The Blue Angel. One of the key scenes in the movie showcases the gorgeous Isak Dinesen as she strolls around the living room of her friend, Marie Dressler – completely naked. She’s carrying a large feather duster and uses it to dust herself as she shows off her body. It’s an incredibly sensual scene that helped legitimise nudity in German society. The shot caused quite a stir and is often cited as one of the most important candid shots of all time.

    The Birth Of The Page Three: “Candid” And “Nudes”

    It was during the great depression that two terms emerged that would change the way we look at celebrity photography: “candid” and “nudes”. The “candid” photo shoot is often cited as the direct result of the duchess’s daring party. The term “candid” comes from the Italian word càncer, which means “to expose or reveal openly”. It was used in the 1950s to describe candid photographs used in advertising and marketing campaigns. Although, the term was initially used to describe photographs that weren’t planned or posed, it eventually became associated with unscripted moments, particularly those involving nudity. It wasn’t only about showing more skin, but about being completely natural. Just like in the duchess’s living room, the stars were there to be seen and not to pose.

    The Cold War And “Family Jewels”

    The Second World War was a hard time for a lot of families, but it shaped the next fifty years. One of the many legacies of the war was the establishment of the National Commission on Sexual Harassment in 1992, which was later renamed the National Centre for Sexual Asssault. The war also saw the rise of Joseph McCarthy, who ran a series of witch hunts in the United States. His tactics were later employed in Europe too, where he was known as “McCarthyism”. One of the first stars to be publicly accused of being a communist was actor John Wayne. His daughter, Elizabeth, accused him of being a card-carrying communist and having ties to the Soviet Union. Wayne vehemently denied the allegations and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which eventually led to a censure of the Committee on Un-American Activities and a restoration of his good name.