So, buckle up and get ready to see your favorite stars in a whole new light. Here are some of the best vintage photos of celebrities flexing their athletic skills!
Clint Eastwood Making Our Day
Khaki shorts and a polo shirt are pretty standard golfing attire, right? Not for Clint Eastwood! His outfit of choice back in the 1960s was some trousers, fancy loafers, and absolutely no shirt. The Hollywood actor was quite a heartthrob back in the day, so he probably didn’t get a lot of complaints about his lack of golf attire while on the green.
The "Dirty Harry" actor is a lifelong golfer. His passion for the sport started when he was a teenager working as a golf caddie in Oakland, California. Eastwood still plays to this day. In fact, the actor owns his own private golf course called Tehàma Golf Club.
Bill Clinton at the Beach
We usually think of presidents as buttoned-up and serious. However, they can let loose sometimes! Bill Clinton was snapped playing a lively game of volleyball back in 1992 while on a visit to California. Clinton had just won the 1992 presidential election, so he probably wanted to blow off some steam.
The then-president-elect surprised residents of the beachside town of Santa Barbara by going on an impromptu jog along the ocean. When he saw the volleyball game going on, he couldn’t resist. While it looks like Clinton is having a blast in this vintage photo, his security detail was allegedly less than thrilled.
The Golden Tennis Girl
Betty White always lived up to her reputation as a fun-loving, adventurous gal. This 1950s action shot of Betty playing tennis is photographic proof! Shot on the courts of Griffith Park, Betty leaps into the air with her racket in hand, eyes on the prize.
As always, Betty is the embodiment of elegance and poise. Not everyone can get a winning shot in while wearing heels! Actor Michael Ansara was her singles partner that day, and she sure gave him a run for his money. Move over, Andre Agassi!
An Unlikely Match
Picture this. Donny Osmond, Paul Young, Alvin Stardust, and Ben Volpeliere Pierrot walk onto a cricket field. No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke. It really happened! This unlikely combination of stars teamed up to play a charity cricket match in 1987, and the photo op was legendary.
The four musical artists definitely understood the assignment. The matching whites, sporting grins, and fiery determination are all sure-fire signs of a winning team. Although it’s unclear who won, these four definitely deserve a Best Dressed award.
A Rebel With a Cause
Before James Dean became a cultural icon and one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, he was just a kid who loved playing basketball. James was a top athlete during his time at Fairmount High School in Indiana. Although he was nearsighted and broke many pairs of glasses while on the court, James had a natural talent for the sport.
He looks almost unrecognizable in his old-school photos! Fellow classmates, who called him Jimmy Dean back then, would have never guessed that this bespectacled kid would turn into one of the world’s most famous actors. Don’t underestimate the star power of someone with glasses!
A Priest and a Boxer Walk Into a Ring…
Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy only made three feature films together, but their dynamic teamwork carried over to an off-screen friendship. Their first film together, "San Francisco," debuted in 1936, cementing them as a dynamic duo in the hearts of viewers. This is mostly because of an iconic scene where the two actors face off in the boxing ring.
You may be wondering why this photo of the iconic scene features Spencer Tracy in an all-black, full-coverage ensemble, and Clark Gable in a barely-there uniform. Tracy actually plays a Catholic priest in the scene! The boxing match was so well-received that Tracy got an Oscar nomination for his role, even though he only spends about 15 minutes on screen.
Ringo Starr Needs Some Help!
The Beatles are known for their musical experimentation and groundbreaking pop songs. However, they were also adventurous when it came to outdoor snow sports. The band traveled to Obertauern, Austria, in 1965 to film their musical film "Help!" Needless to say, shenanigans ensued.
The Fab Four were on location to film some ski scenes for the movie, but things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped. As we can see from this photo, sledding didn’t go any better. Poor Ringo Starr fell off the back of the sled, and he seems pretty bummed about it. The Beatles were good at many things, but winter sports was not one of them.
A Musical Pitch
Sometimes a vintage celebrity photo stops you in your tracks. This is one of those photos. This action shot features a softball game with an unlikely pairing. Lucille Ball is at bat with none other than Julie Andrews acting as the catcher! Comedian Joe E. Brown is the umpire. If his face is any indication, this game was a rollicking good time.
Lucille and Julie were playing on opposing teams during the opening game of the Broadway Baseball League in New York City. At the time, Julie was starring in the musical "Camelot," and Lucille was the star of "Wildcat."
Desi Loves Tennis
Desi Arnaz Jr. is most famous for being the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr. What many people don’t know, however, is that Desi was an avid tennis player. Between acting and playing music, Desi could be found on the court with a racket in hand.
He put his talent to good use and played in celebrity charity games during the 1970s. This shot shows Desi ready to face his opponent at a celebrity tournament, sideburns and all. The tournament was held at the La Costa Resort, where Desi would return a few years later with Liza Minnelli.
Marilyn Hits One Out of the Park
Is there a celebrity more iconic than Marilyn Monroe? We think not, and this picture is proof. Marilyn went to bat during a 20th Century Fox Studio baseball game wearing heels and a full face of makeup. Fabulous! Marilyn’s classic look of high-waisted shorts, heels, and a chic headscarf definitely hit it out of the park.
When this photo was taken in 1952, Marilyn had previously been with famous Yankees baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Needless to say, her form and stance give Joe a run for his money. Marilyn looks like she’s having a genuinely great time in this photo!
James “Caan” Do It
Celebrity tennis tournaments had a major moment back in the day. Being the sport of choice for many actors, it made sense to hold events to raise money for charity. Many people will pay literal money to see celebrities out of their natural habitat and on the court!
James Caan of "The Godfather" fame joined the ranks of athletic celebrities during his participation in the 1973 RFK Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament. The New York native hit the court in Forest Hills to show off and show down for a good cause. Whether or not James won is lost to time, but look at that form!
The Ultimate Wingman
There was no one quite as classy as Audrey Hepburn. The style icon was stylish on and off the silver screen. In fact, she pulled off her signature elegant look while golfing! She hit the course with her husband, Mel Ferrer, in 1954 while vacationing at a Bürgenstock, Switzerland resort.
One look at this photo tells you all you need to know about Mel and Audrey’s relationship. He was the ultimate wingman! He’s a real one for shading Audrey with an umbrella while she lines up the perfect shot. Also, has anyone ever looked so elegant while golfing barefoot? Nope.
Gene Hackman Loves Sports
The annual RFK Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament was a pretty illustrious affair. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood converged at the Forest Hills Stadium every year to break in their tennis rackets and raise money for charity. Gene Hackman was riding high off the success of "The French Connection" when he attended the 2nd annual tournament in 1973.
The actor came to break hearts and take names, as anyone can see from his outfit. With his headband that reads LOVE and his crisp polo, Gene looks the part of a tennis professional. Here’s hoping his game was as good as his look!
Jane Fonda’s Workout
Jane Fonda has a stellar acting career, but her best starring role might be in her own workout videos. The original Jane Fonda’s Workout was a chart-topping success and is the bestselling home video of all time. Before the home video was released, Jane did some publicity on talk shows. Naturally, most of it was exercise-related.
Jane was a guest on the "Mike Douglas Show" in 1979, where she led her friend Mike in some guided ballet lessons. Jane looks regal as ever in a shiny leotard and fabulous earrings. Mike, on the other hand, appears to be struggling in the background. At least he has on his matching tracksuit.
Battle of the Network Stars!
Believe it or not, reality TV has been around long before the Kardashians and Real Housewives franchise. Back in the 1970s, there was the famous show "Battle of the Network Stars." In this twice-yearly special, network TV stars from ABC, NBC, and CBS would go head-to-head to see which network was the best.
How did they determine which stars were the best of the best? With sports, of course. William Shatner participated in the 1978 special on the NBC team, and he did not disappoint. On top of being a good sport and playing some football, William helped lead his team to victory.
A Classy Boxing Match
Cary Grant was one of the most debonaire Hollywood stars of his time. He could also throw a punch or two! He got private boxing lessons from legendary boxer Joe Lynch in 1935 while staying out in Palm Springs, California.
In this vintage photo, we can see Joe giving him some pointers about blocking punches and using an appropriate stance. In classic Cary Grant fashion, he’s keeping it classy with a popped shirt collar. It seems that the "North by Northwest" actor was learning the art of boxing for fun. Boxing was the second most popular sport in the 30s, right behind baseball.
Skateboarding is harder than it looks! The fact that Farrah Fawcett was able to make it look so effortless is envy-inducing. In an episode of "Charlie’s Angels," Farrah’s character escapes the bad guys by riding off on a skateboard. The press shots for the episode feature Farrah in an outfit that looks just as chic by today’s standards, with some classic Nikes that are to die for.
Skateboarding was taking the country by storm in the 1970s, so it makes sense that one of the hottest stars of the decade would hop on the trend. Surprisingly, the press photos weren’t fake poses. Farrah was pretty athletic, and she actually knew how to ride!
Steve McQueen was a famously athletic celebrity. The actor did all his own stunts in his movies and was an avid motorcycle rider. It’s no surprise that he didn’t shy away from horseback riding in his 1968 film "The Thomas Crown Affair."
Steve fearlessly hopped on the back of a horse to film the country club polo match scene alongside other players. Many people consider polo to be one of the hardest sports to play, so this was no easy feat. The fact that Steve was able to get a winning play goes to show that he was a natural athlete and superstar actor.
Sports Unite Us All
Sports and rock ’n’ roll usually don’t go hand in hand, but that never stopped Alice Cooper! The rocker participated in a charity softball game for the Nevada Special Olympics, and he teamed up with an unlikely musician. Country singer John Denver was his teammate, but their wildly different styles of music might have been a point of contention.
Alice Cooper is standing awfully close to John, who is holding a bat and looks ready to swing! Everything turned out okay, though, because their team won the charity game. The softball match took place at the University of Nevada stadium to a crowd of almost 4,000 people.
Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis' Adventure in the Snow
It’s always fun to see celebrities being regular people without the shiny veneer of Hollywood. Actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis shared a candid moment together while taking ski lessons in 1958. The couple was visiting a resort in Lake Tahoe, where they buckled up for a day in the snow.
Janet and Tony were apparently new to skiing because they both ended up on the ground! Janet looks like she’s having a tougher time than her husband, but they look like they’re having a blast. Learning a new sport isn’t always easy, but it’s more fun when you learn with someone you care about!
Table Tennis Twosome
James Stewart and Henry Fonda were two of the biggest Hollywood stars from the 1940s and 50s. Surprisingly, they were also best friends! That explains why they teamed up for this spirited game of table tennis. This vintage photo from 1937 shows the two men intensely focused with their eyes on the prize.
Not only does this photo show the moment before the ball is served, but it also shows a moment in time when the two actors were just starting out in their careers. The two friends would go on to star in four movies together and have extremely successful acting careers. Friends that play sports together stay together!
Locklear and Loaded
"Battle of the Network Stars" first debuted in 1976 and was an immediate hit! People love watching celebrities compete in sporting events without the usual glitz and glam. Heather Locklear was a contestant on the show a couple of years in the 80s.
As anyone can tell from her outfit, she took her role very seriously. She totally dressed the part of a professional athlete by topping off her look with a fashionable white sweatband. In this vintage photo, she’s about to toss a softball to someone and looks excited about the games ahead. No doubt she was getting in the zone to destroy her enemies!
Bob and Bing
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were one of the most popular comedic duos of their time. Coincidentally, they were also great friends who spent much of their spare time together. The two shared a passion for golfing and would constantly hit the putting green together. If you're wondering who the better player was, this photo might give you a clue.
If we had to guess, Bob Hope probably fancied himself the better golfer. Just look at his face! It’s full of judgment as Bing Crosby lines up his shot. All jokes aside, the two actors loved the sport and even hosted charity golf tournaments together.
Joan Crawford Forged Her Own Path
Joan Crawford was a famous actress who rose to fame in the 1920s and broke barriers in more ways than one. She wasn’t afraid to show her athletic side, which was considered unconventional back in the 20s. Women were expected to participate in polite exercises, like dancing and calisthenics. However, Joan did her own thing.
Joan Crawford was a huge fan of running, racing, and jump training! This action shot of Joan shows her taking off on a timed race. When this photo was originally published, it was revealed that she could run a 100-yard race in 11 seconds and jump up to four feet high. Pretty impressive!
The Early Days of Reality TV
The showdown between famous actors on the "Battle of the Network Stars" was our earliest version of reality television, and no one could get enough. If you ever watched the show, you know that the tug-of-war competition was almost always the most heated part of the show.
Scott Baio of "Happy Days" fame competed on the show over five times! Apparently, he couldn’t get enough of the competition. The look of intensity on his face during the tug-of-war competition says it all. He was in it to win it. Years later, Scott joked that this show was the closest he’d ever get to the Olympics.
Two Legends Square Up
Sammy Davis Jr. played the lead character in the 1964 play "Golden Boy," and it looks like he was into method acting. His character, Joe Wellington, is an amateur boxer who is, quite literally, fighting to pay his way through college. While backstage at the Majestic Theater, Sammy Davis Jr. got a surprise visit from a professional.
Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay popped in to give him some boxing tips! You can see the two men joking around, with Sammy Davis Jr.’s face scrunched up in a laugh. And before you Google it, yes, Cassius Clay is none other than Muhammad Ali.
A Night at La Main Jaune
It’s always a trip to see super famous celebrities in their younger years. This snap of a young Steven Spielberg rollerskating with Goldie Hawn is so candid and fun! The two attended a party at the famous La Main Jaune in Paris, France.
The two Hollywood stars look like they’re having a blast. Goldie Hawn looks a little more terrified, but at least Steven Spielberg is there to help her out! La Main Jaune was one of the first nightclubs in Paris dedicated to rollerskating. It’s now closed, but it’s cool to think that two huge stars were part of the club’s history.
Backwards and in High Heels
We all know the quote that famously reminds us Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but “backwards and in high heels.” Little did we know that she was also an accomplished athlete. This 1935 photograph stars Ginger Rogers on the tennis court, ready to hit it out of the park.
She looks genuinely happy and energized in this photo, which was taken in Forest Hills, New York. Ginger Rogers was a lifelong tennis player. She was such a great player that she even competed at the 1950 US Open with Frank Shields as her partner! Looks like she was able to put her fancy footwork to use on the court as well as on the dance floor.
A Beautiful Day for Volleyball
Who doesn’t love a good game of volleyball on a warm summer day? Doris Day sure did! She had her own volleyball court installed in her Toluca Lake home and constantly had people over for some relaxing, fun-filled afternoons. It seems that she was never one to sit back and watch others play, either.
This action shot of Doris leaping for the volleyball was taken in her backyard. It perfectly captures the star’s infectious energy and good spirits. We can practically feel the summer sun coming through this photo! On top of that, her baseball cap and her friend’s sunglasses make this image look like it could have been taken yesterday.
Fred Astaire was a man of many talents. When we see him dancing on-screen in one of his many movies, it looks like he’s dancing on air. Well, he was able to take that famous agility and apply it to one of his favorite sports: tennis! The star loved the sport so much that he had a private tennis court installed in his Beverly Hills home.
He was a formidable opponent, with his quick and nimble footwork no doubt coming in handy during fast serves and tricky maneuvers. Always the gentleman, it looks like he kept his sports outfit as sharp as his form.
Footballing Tony Danza
Tony Danza was one of the many popular stars that participated in the hit show "Battle of the Network Stars" during the 70s and 80s. In the show, network TV celebs competed against each other in sports competitions to see who would come out on top. Tony Danza came prepared to win when he joined the cast for a few of the episode specials.
Tony Danza is a former professional boxer, so his athletic background no doubt gave his team an advantage! It doesn’t look like his ABC team won either of the seasons he participated in, but Tony’s not a sore loser. He took the defeat in stride and still had fun.
Judy Garland Ready to Play Badminton
Judy Garland was known for her vivacious personality and beautiful singing voice. To have a good time and let loose, she’d sometimes hit the badminton court! This colorized photo shows a young Judy posing with her racket on the way to the court.
Judy is all smiles as she looks off-screen. Maybe she’s dreaming of how she’ll destroy her badminton competition. Probably! Always the fashion icon, she’s wearing a striped polo and classic white tennis skirt that would look just as good on the court today. It looks like she’s ready for an afternoon full of competitive fun!
Do You Even Lift, Gary?
In today’s world, we obsess over celebrity workouts and diet regimens. It seems that one star or another is always posting a workout session to prove how athletic they are. Back in the days of classic Hollywood, things were different. This undated photo shows a rare glimpse of a young Gary Cooper working out on his lawn.
Gary Cooper is wearing an all-white outfit while lifting some hand weights. The actor was best known for his roles in Western movies, so he probably had to stay in tip-top shape for his next starring role. This photo is so surprising because he looks so casual compared to the sharp suits or cowboy hats that fans would always see him in.
Rod Stewart’s Surprise Talent
Before Rod Stewart became a famous singer, he was a dedicated soccer player. He even tried out for the Brentford Football Club in his youth! Rod picked up the sport because his dad was a huge soccer fan, and he wanted to make him proud.
After he became famous, the "Maggie May" singer still played soccer for fun twice a week. This vintage 70s photo of him playing at the Vicarage Road stadium in Watford shows his natural skill and talent for the sport. Rod is still a dedicated soccer fan to this day and supports the Scottish Celtic Football Club.
A Perfect Après-Ski Look
Skiing has always been a popular sport among the rich and famous. For good reason, too. It’s a blast! Actress Lana Turner wasn’t immune to the skiing bug. She gave it a try a few times and looked great while doing it. The starlet hit the slopes and looked effortlessly cool in a chic 60s turban and embellished ski jacket.
Lana turns to look at the camera before making her way down the slopes in this vintage picture. It’s hard to believe that someone could look this put-together while on the slopes, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s her.
Sally and Arnold Hit the Gym
Every once in a while, a vintage photo comes along that features a surprising celebrity duo. Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two stars we don’t usually think of together. However, they both starred in a movie called "Stay Hungry," which aired in 1976.
Arnold plays an Austrian bodybuilder in the film (that sounds familiar), and Sally plays a gym receptionist. This photo of the young stars shows Arnold coaching Sally on the rowing machine in the gym. They both look like they’re having a great time, but, alas, bodybuilding was not the sport for Sally Field.
Eartha and Cleo Take on Cricket
Eartha Kitt and Cleo Laine need no introduction. They are two of the biggest singers from decades past and are both known for their charity work. The two of them teamed up to do some good during a charity event at the Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles.
The two musicians played a celebrity cricket match alongside the likes of Dusty Springfield and Phyllis Diller on September 4, 1976. A photographer captured a great shot of Earth Kitt in full concentration, with Cleo cheering her on in the background. Here’s hoping they were on the same team!
Kirk Douglas, the Strongman
Kirk Douglas was a major heartthrob at the height of his fame, and it’s no wonder. Look at this vintage photo! It features Kirk doing a strongman pose on the beach while vacationing on the island of Lido off the coast of Venice, Italy. The actor loved waterskiing and other water sports, so it's no surprise to see him getting ready to hit the waves.
The legendary actor is showing off his guns, but he’s missing a major part. He’s standing on his waterskis, but they’re on the sand. You need to get in the water for the skis to work, Kirk!
Classic Claudette on the Court
Claudette Colbert is one of those classic Hollywood starlets that captures the glamor of times past. The French-born actress was known for playing confident characters on the silver screen. She obviously carried that confidence over into her real-life love of sports.
The actress was a fan of tennis, and there are many photos of her dashing across the court and leaping with her racket. This rare color photo of the star shows her in a moment of rest, happily clutching her tennis racket. With her signature eyelashes, red lip, and crips tennis whites, she looks ready to hit the court!
An Uneven Advantage
Red Skelton and Mickey Rooney had a friendship that spanned decades. Before the two actors teamed up for Red Skelton’s variety show, they teamed up in a different way — Red and Mickey played together on a celebrity basketball team for charity! Ever the jokesters, the two men took every opportunity to infuse humor into the game.
During a jump ball, Mickey Rooney dragged a chair to the court. Considering that he was 5’2”, he no doubt wanted to even the playing field before he faced off against Red for possession of the ball. Comedian Jackie Coogan, who was the celebrity referee, looks pretty confused.
A Celebrity Obstacle Course
"Battle of the Network Stars" first debuted in 1976 and was an immediate hit. People love seeing celebrities out of their natural element! Actress Penny Marshall of "Laverne & Shirley" fame participated in the first three episodes alongside some of her other ABC colleagues.
The naturally athletic actress was ready to kick butt and take names all three times! This action shot of Penny competing in the track and field portion of the competition reveals a look of determination and dedication. In this challenge, she had to maneuver through obstacles like rope climbing to get to the finish line. That’s no easy feat!
Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s most iconic Western actors of all time. However, before he hit it big, he started off with a contract under Universal Pictures in the 1950s. Some photos survived from this time in his career, and some of them are strange. Like this one!
A shirtless Clint Eastwood stands next to three other Universal actresses. Their arms are interlocked, and they’re doing what we can only guess was an experimental yoga pose. Apparently, this exercise program was part of Universal Picture’s Talent Workshop that prepared up-and-coming actors for stardom. Since looking good has always been valued in Hollywood, it’s not shocking that this used to be a thing.
Betty Hutton Is Keeping It Classy
Who doesn’t love a relaxing game of croquet on a warm spring day? Okay, maybe croquet isn’t as popular today as it was a few decades ago, but during the 1950s, the game was all the rage in the US. Celebs are not immune to trends, so it’s no surprise actress Betty Hutton hopped on the bandwagon.
Hutton looks about ready to hit her winning shot in this photo from around 1955. A lot of people at the time bought croquet sets to play in their backyards, and that’s exactly what Betty looks like she’s doing. Croquet might be one of the classiest sports out there. What other activity lets you dress up, wear heels, and dominate the competition?
Rita Hayworth’s Winter Wonderland
We usually think of Hollywood starlets as wearing glamorous gowns with their hair done to perfection. But they were just normal people who had their own hobbies outside of the silver screen! Rita Hayworth was an avid dancer who was always looking for a thrill. Besides rumors that she loved bullfighting, she also loved to ski during winter months.
This 1949 shot of Rita skiing in the mountains of Murren, Switzerland, captures a candid moment where the actress looks totally happy and free. Her skis and boots are covered in snow, so you know what she's been doing all day. The actress always jumped at the chance to ski, vacationing in the French Alps, Sun Valley, and other winter wonderlands.
A Skip and a Jump Away
Before Marlon Brando was lauded for his performance in "The Godfather," he was perfecting his athletic form. This vintage photo from the 1950s shows Marlon mid-workout during a jump rope session. This might be around the time he was filming one of the early movies that would shoot him to international fame.
Although we don’t know when or why this photo was taken, one thing is for sure: Brando was ahead of his time because he knew never to skip leg day. He looks genuinely exhausted, so it's obvious he wasn’t faking it for the photo!
A Fierce Competitor
While tennis is still a popular sport among celebrities, they tend to enjoy sitting on the sidelines these days. Back in the golden era of Hollywood, however, classic stars weren’t afraid to get in the middle of the action. Katharine Hepburn was no exception. The actress was known in town as a sports enthusiast who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
This photo of a young Katharine Hepburn shows just how serious she was about tennis. She’s caught in the moment right before she bounces the ball to serve to her opponent. The fierce look on her face would have any of us quaking in our boots if we had to play against her.
Viva Las Vegas
When Kenny Rogers wasn’t singing his sweet country jams, he could often be found hosting celebrity softball games in his adopted city of Las Vegas, Nevada. He consistently held celebrity softball games to raise money for charity throughout the 1970s.
He didn’t just sit on the sidelines at these events. He was often right in the thick of it. This action shot of Kenny shows the moment right after throwing a pitch. Look at that form! The annual charity games were a fun time for everyone involved. Special celebrity guests included B.B. King and Alice Cooper.
The Sundance Kid
Robert Redford is a self-professed ski enthusiast. He became heavily involved in the production of the ski film "Downhill Racer," in which he starred and did some of his own skiing stunts. After that movie, he was hooked!
He went on to become a pretty talented amateur skier and made it a big part of his life. He spent a lot of time at his Sundance Ski Resort (yes, that Sundance!), perfecting his love of the sport. This shot of Robert at his resort in Utah is proof that he was into skiing as more than a status symbol.
The Kennedys Loved All-American Football
The United States may not have an official royal family, but the Kennedys come pretty close. There is something about the Kennedy family that just screams “all American,” and we can’t get enough. This action shot of Robert Kennedy and his brother Edward might explain why.
Does it even get more American than playing football on a beach? We think not. This vintage photo oozes all-American summer, with the Kennedy brothers playing a game of touch football with Edward’s wife, Joan. From the looks on Bobby’s and Joan’s faces, this family was pretty competitive!
As Good as It Gets for Jack Nicholson
Add actor Jack Nicholson to the long list of celebrities who love skiing. It’s a sport that’s simultaneously chic and exhilarating. Can you blame them? Jack has been skiing for fun for literal decades at this point, which is why this early photo of him getting ready to hit the slopes is such a gem.
Jack Nicholson is putting his gloves on before a day full of skiing in the Swiss Alps. Look at the giant, genuine smile on his face! He’s obviously living his best athletic life and is probably thinking a day on the slopes is as good as it gets.
Brooke Shields Lets the Good Times Roll
The two-hour TV special "Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes" posed a burning question to its stars and viewers; Which half’s the better half? While this early version of reality TV may not have answered this question, viewers sure got a kick out of seeing celebrities get athletic. Even other celebrities got into it!
Brooke Shields, who was still a teenager at the time, attended a taping in 1980. Between breaks in taping, she decided to get active as well. She threw on some roller skates and ran through one of the obstacle courses for fun. She’s wearing all her protective gear except for a helmet. Safety first, Brooke!
Ron Howard Takes a Swing
Ron Howard fell in love with golfing when he was a teenager and never looked back. He was able to share his love of the sport with fans during his time on the reality special "Battle of the Network Stars." While golfing on the course at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, Ron was able to get a few well-rehearsed swings in.
Ron Howard is still an avid golfer to this day and passed his passion on to his son, Reed. The famous director has shared that he loves the etiquette and process of the sport, which requires patience and concentration. That’s a director’s response if we’ve ever heard one.
Race to the Finish Line
Nowadays, we can see celebrities doing everything under the sun on their social media channels. But have we ever seen modern-day stars get competitive and race each other? Probably not! Actresses Lynda Carter and Darleen Carr faced off in a relay race while competing in an ABC television special.
The competition, which took place at Pepperdine University in California, was a good-spirited race between celebs that fans rarely got to see out of character. While we’re not sure who won, it looks like both women were ready to put their best foot forward.
Billy Crystal Is up First
Billy Crystal grew up loving baseball. As an adult, he didn’t let that passion die off once he became rich and famous. The comedian and actor played in several softball teams while living out in the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles.
Ever the performer, he couldn’t resist posing for some photos before his team’s big game. This portrait of Billy features his softball uniform and a game-weary smile. He’s holding two bats at the same time, so you know he means business. Hopefully, someone told him that only one is necessary when you go up to bat.
Ziggy Stardust on Skis
David Bowie is remembered for his artistic, avant-garde music and fashion. That’s why it’s surprising to some people when they learn that he was a huge fan of skiing! Every person really does contain multitudes! David got hooked on the sport when he visited the Swiss mountains.
He shared his love for skiing with his wife, Iman, who looks flawless in a fur-lined ski jacket and matching beanie. During one trip to Switzerland, David gave Iman private lessons. Although we’re not sure if Iman caught the skiing bug like her husband, it was probably a fun day out in the snow.
Going to a Dodgers baseball game is one of the best things you can do in Los Angeles. Now, imagine playing on the actual field! That’s what Tom Selleck got to do when he attended a Hollywood Stars Night Celebrity Baseball Game event. The actor was captured throwing a professional-looking pitch right on the field.
In this photo, he’s wearing a head-to-toe Dodgers uniform, however, the "Mr. Baseball" actor was actually a diehard Detroit Tigers fan! He doesn’t seem too bothered by the blue and white uniform, though. He’s probably just thrilled to be living out his baseball dreams on the field.
Bond, James Bond
Sean Connery just might be the most debonair star to hit up a golf course. The original James Bond actor had a lifelong love of golf and played the sport every chance he got. Rumor has it that Sean picked up the sport for a scene in a James Bond movie and got hooked from there. He loved the game so much that he was known to play in unorthodox places, like the airport!
Sean Connery was photographed letting it swing at the Northolt Airport in the UK. Sean’s pose, concentration, and ease of movement tell you everything you need to know about how good of a player he was!
Marvin Gaye Knows What’s Going On
Although Marvin Gaye was an extremely successful musician, he always had dreams of playing sports professionally. He even tried out for the Detroit Lions football team one year! Although his professional athlete aspirations never panned out, he still had fun playing basketball, football, and other sports with his friends.
This vintage photo shows Marvin Gaye playing basketball alongside NBA players like Jerry Lucas, Zelmo Beaty, and Phil Chenier during an event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The game was for a Celebrity Basketball Tournament, which raised money for charity. Even though he never made it to the big leagues, it’s pretty impressive that Marvin got to play alongside the professionals.
Mick Jagger Dons Tennis Whites
Rock ’n’ roll and tennis don’t often go hand-in-hand — unless you’re Mick Jagger, that is. The famous rocker took a break before The Rolling Stones European Tour to hit the good ole tennis ball back and forth with bandmate Ronnie Wood.
Mick Jagger went all out for his tennis match, dressing in a classic all-white outfit with a visor to boot. Of course, he’s making a signature Mick Jagger face from the time, with his mouth wide open and energy vibrating every which way. Tennis is definitely a great way to blow off some steam, so we see the appeal!
Mark Harmon Throws Down
These days, most of us think of Mark Harmon as the actor from "NCIS." Back in the day, though, he was the regular made-for-TV athlete! He guest-starred on a few of the "Battle of the Network Stars" specials to show off his athletic skills.
This vintage photo shows Mark in full track and field regalia during the shot put portion of the competition. His arm is blurry, and his legs and braced for the momentum of his throw. Mark played many different sports while in college, so he probably found shot putting to be a piece of cake!
Namaste, Paul Newman
Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward are relationship goals. The famous Hollywood couple showed their playful side during an impromptu photo op one evening at someone’s house. For whatever reason, Paul decided to try doing a headstand! Joanne is right there beside him, helping him maintain his balance. If that’s not true love, we don’t know what is.
Paul Newman probably didn’t practice yoga, but this is giving some serious Sirsasana pose vibes. Successfully doing a hand or headstand is pretty impressive, so this just goes to show how athletic and adventurous Paul was in real life. At least he used a pillow to cushion his noggin.
Old Blue Eyes
Frank Sinatra and baseball go together like bread and butter. The all-American Old Blue Eyes singer was a huge baseball fan throughout his life. Although there are a ton of vintage photos out there of Frank posing with famous baseball players, this rare photo shows him actually playing America’s favorite pastime.
This black and white photo captures Frank Sinatra at home base after hitting one out of the ballpark. Okay, we don’t actually know how well he hit the ball, but you get the idea. You can see vintage paparazzi in the background, all holding their flashbulbs and hoping to get the perfect shot.
Mickey Rooney Gives Ava Gardner Golfing Tips
Ava Gardner and Mickey Rooney were a golden couple for a few years, and during that time, they had some pretty cute photo ops. Sometime during their relationship, the young couple was photographed on a golf course. An adoring Mickey is giving Ava some tips on how to play. Despite Mickey trying to help out, it looks like she knows what she’s doing!
Although Ava Gardner Mickey Rooney’s marriage didn’t last long, her love of golf sure did. She loved being active for most of her life and would often join Frank Sinatra on the green during the time they were together.
Elton John Playing With Watford FC
Elton John grew up going to Watford Football Club games at Vicarage Road. As a small boy, he probably dreamed of playing in stadiums professionally. Once he became a famous musician, his athletic dreams came true, only in a different way. He became Vice President and eventual partial owner of the team!
After becoming Vice President of the team, Elton John stopped by the Vicarage Road Stadium to pay his dues. He met and trained with the Watford players, which is no easy feat! He even went so far as to bounce the ball on his head as any respectable soccer player would do. Elton John is still tied to Watford FC today as the team’s honorary life President.
An All-Star Competition
Back in the day, it seems the public couldn’t get enough of watching celebrities compete against each other in athletic showdowns. This vintage photograph captures a moment from the First Annual Rock and Roll Celebrity Sports Classic, which aired on ABC in the 1970s. The competition had an all-star line-up, including a young Michael and Janet Jackson, Leif Garret, and Joan Jett.
This shot shows the musicians waiting on the sidelines during a competition. They are all cheering on their teammates, and Joan Jett looks particularly into the whole thing. The celebs participated in sports like cycling, a 100-yard dash, and a walkathon.
Barbi Benton Steals Hearts and Bases
Kenny Rogers was famous for hosting his celebrity charity softball games while he was in residence in Las Vegas, Nevada. His annual charity games pulled in quite the star-studded roster, including 1970s icon Barbi Benton. She played alongside stars like Tanya Tucker and, of course, Kenny Rogers himself.
The model and actress was caught red-handed by a photographer trying to steal a base during the game. All her sneaking around was worth it, though. The celebrity softball game was held to raise money for the Nevada Special Olympics, a cause that Kenny Rogers cared deeply about.
Roger Moore Learns Judo
Actors often learn a new sport for the sake of a film or TV role. That was the case when English actor Roger Moore took up judo. Surprisingly, these judo lessons weren’t for his iconic role as James Bond. He trained in judo for the role of Simon Templar in "The Saint."
Although he never became a judo master, Roger learned the basics and applied them to his TV role. In later interviews, the actor shared that learning the basics of judo helped him on and off screen by allowing him to apply discipline and self-defense in his everyday life. Also, those moves surely came in handy one way or another while playing the famous role of 007!
Name a sport more quintessentially 70s than rollerskating. That’s right, you can’t! This vintage photograph of Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi is the grooviest thing ever. The two were caught mid-skate while attending the premiere of Patrick Swayze’s 1979 film "Skatetown, U.S.A."
The two stars attended the premiere wearing peak 70s chic. Lisa is wearing shiny, disco-worthy high-waisted pants, and Patrick is wearing a vest, bell bottoms, and little else. Can he get any more iconic? The couple makes rollerskating look effortlessly cool, and we can’t help but envy the breeze blowing through their hair.
Suzanne Somers Loved the Gym
Suzanne Somers was the queen of at-home fitness. She made a name for herself by promoting the famous Thighmaster and making workout home videos. Needless to say, she was pretty athletic. Before she became a household fitness name, though, she kept her love of sports on the down low.
Suzanne Somers regularly attended fitness classes while acting in the sitcom "Three’s Company." This vintage photo captures her in the midst of playing a basketball game with fellow gym members. We can’t help but wonder if she was taking notes for her future business endeavors. Sadly though, she passed away in 2023 after her cancer returned.
Skiing With Grace
Actress Grace Kelly famously became a princess after marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Her story sounds straight out of a fairytale, but underneath all of the fancy dresses and jewelry, Grace liked to have fun. She took many vacations with her husband and kids, including ski holidays during the winter.
Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, and their three kids all seem to be having a blast on holiday in this vintage photo. They’re all sitting on mono-skis, which let people ski while sitting down. Just because Grace was a princess didn’t mean she couldn’t let loose on the slopes once in a while!
Jackie Kennedy’s Hidden Talent
Jacqueline Kennedy is remembered today for her iconic style and grace. What a lot of people don’t know is that she was a fun-loving and adventurous wife, mom, and athlete. The former First Lady loved all kinds of physical activity, but water skiing was one of her favorites.
She passed on her love of adventure to her daughter, Caroline, who was photographed water skiing with her in the 60s. Jackie was on vacation with the family in Salerno, Italy, and decided to show her daughter the ropes. The two of them look like they’re having a blast out on the water!
A Royal Affair
The British Royal Family loves their polo. King Charles III was an avid polo player in his younger years. He played competitively when he was a teenager and young man and even won a few medals. He was so obsessed with the sport that he took to playing even while he was abroad on royal tours, which always surprised people.
During a royal tour of Australia with the late Princess Diana, then-Prince Charles was spotted playing polo at a tour stop in Sydney. Apparently, the urge to jump on a horse and play his favorite sport was too strong to wait until he got back home.
Joan Crawford Is a Football Fan
Actresses Joan Crawford and Dorothy Sebastian were trendsetters in their day. That’s why it’s no surprise they knew all about the ins and outs of football during a trip to the beach. The sport was taking the United States by storm in the 1920s, and everyone was talking about it.
Joan and Dorothy are captured in this vintage photo, acting silly and having fun. The two of them pose as if they’re playing a very serious game of football, but the smiles on their faces give away the joking nature of the moment. Also, their vintage swimsuits and headpieces make this photo even more interesting!
It’s not often that an award-winning Olympic athlete becomes an actor, but that’s what happened with Johnny Weissmuller! He had a full-fledged athletic career in swimming before he turned to acting. In fact, Weissmuller won five gold Olympic medals and set a few world records. No big deal.
With his natural athletic talent, Johnny didn’t do anything halfway. This vintage photo features him showing off his winter sports skills by speed-skating on a frozen lake. Because skating at a normal pace would just be boring. Considering that he spent most of his athletic career underwater, he seems like a natural skating on frozen water!
Clark Gable Rides Again
Clark Gable was known as The King of Hollywood in his day — and for good reason. Everything he did, he did well. That includes his athletic endeavors. The old Hollywood star was an avid horse rider and even bought his own ranch in Encino, California, to enjoy riding in wide open spaces.
He would often spend mornings riding his favorite Palomino horse, who looks like quite the sassy riding buddy. No doubt, the two of them had a blast riding through the hills of the ranch! All the riding time paid off for Clark because there were several movies where he was able to ride studio horses without bringing in a stunt double.
Lorenzo Lamas Hits It Off
Lorenzo Lamas was so athletic that he made everything look easy. When the "Battle of the Network Stars" was taking television by storm, Lorenzo was a celebrity guest for several of the specials. He brought the heat every time, especially when it came to the tennis showdown.
Lorenzo Lamas is rocking the 80s ensemble in this vintage photo. The visor, short shorts, and white tube socks make him look like a total professional on the tennis court. He wasn’t faking it till he made it, though. Judging from how he’s swinging the racket, it looks like he got in a few good hits.
Fun in the Sun
It’s always fun to see vintage photos of celebrities letting loose and having fun. Natalie Wood and actor Hugh O’Brian were having fun in the sun during a Thalian Beach Ball in Malibu, California. The charity event had a bunch of summer-themed competitions, including a potato sack race!
Natalie Wood looks radiant as she prepares to compete in the high-stakes race. Hugh is in the background cheering her on, which is absolutely adorable. The two of them make the perfect couple with their retro swimsuits and windswept hair. Hopefully, Natalie beat out the competition and won the race!
Diana Ross’s Supreme Talent
Diana Ross is a self-professed tennis fan, so we imagine she jumped at the chance to prove herself during the Celebrity Tennis Tournament of 1977! The famous singer participated in the charity event that took place in Forest Hills, New York, and she came prepared with her racket and can-do attitude.
Diana is all concentration as she zeros in on the ball during the game. She wore classic tennis whites but added some flair to her outfit with a green sweatband and classy green accents on her polo. Interestingly, Diana Ross would return to the tennis courts to open for the US Tennis Championship between Serena and Venus Williams.
Coming Down the Mountain
Actress Janet Leigh was an avid skier, and she passed on her love of the winter sport to her two daughters. One year, she took them along to a celebrity ski race event, where she and her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis took to the slopes to compete. The vintage photo shows a beaming Janet sandwiched between her two kids. She looks so happy! After riding the high of skiing down a mountain, who wouldn't be?
In an interesting twist of fate, Janet Leigh was actually discovered at a ski lodge where her parents worked. It’s funny how this ski connection eventually transformed into a life-long love of the sport!
Cher Is Strong Enough
Cher is a powerful singer and beloved diva, but this vintage photo shows the famous musician in a totally different light. Cher was enjoying a day out on the water while on vacation in Niagara, New York. She wasn’t just relaxing and sunbathing, though. She went all out and jumped on some water skis!
The star was seen having the time of her life riding the waves on her water skis. She ended up sopping wet, which tells us she fell off a few times. She took the falls in stride and hopped back on. Trying out different sports should be fun, after all!