17 Other Memorable Presidential Photographs

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This White House photo of President Obama doing the "not impressed" look with Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney is zooming around the Internet this morning. This gives us a good excuse to share some of our favorite presidential pics from the White House and presidential libraries.

1. San-T Claus

In December of 1983, Mr. T went to Washington to help the First Lady unveil the White House Christmas decorations. Why Mr. T? “Nancy Reagan was campaigning to get kids to say no to drugs,” Mr. T told The Independent in 2008. “They heard about me going round schools telling kids to stay away from drugs."

The First Lady received a Mr. T doll, and Mr. T got a peck on the forehead. “Oh wow, man,” San-T Claus joked. “That’ll start some scandal.”

2. A Popcorn Shower

The 1986 Super Bowl champion New York Giants popularized the tradition of dumping Gatorade on their coach after wins. When the team came to the White House in 1987, Harry Carson gave The Gipper a similar treatment.

3. Hipster Lincoln

A reporter once described Lincoln’s mop as “Wild Republican hair.” In this 1857 photo, Abe looks like he just got out of bed.

4. Hippie Clinton

Bill and Hillary in the early days.

5. Tickling the Ivories

Two months before he became president, here’s Harry Truman playing piano for Lauren Bacall.

6. The Gipper and The Gloved One

© Bettmann/CORBIS

For lending “Beat It” to a campaign against drunk driving, Michael Jackson was awarded a Presidential Special Achievement Award by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

7. Angry Teddy

A young and menacing Teddy Roosevelt.

8. Older Teddy

TR on safari in Central Africa after leaving office.

9. Pardon That Turkey

The annual turkey pardoning has led to some unflattering photos. See also: A Brief History of Presidential Turkey Pardoning.

10. Elephant Rides

The Bush family on an elephant in 1964. The Bush Library's caption says it's an elephant statue. We're not so sure. Left to right: Barbara, Doro, Marvin, Neil, Jeb, and George H.W. Bush (George W. was away at school).

11. Harry Truman's Summer Wardrobe

If you happened to be in Key West in 1951, you could have run into President Truman in some really short shorts.

12. "A Nice Little Person"

President Reagan poses with Drew Barrymore at a ceremony launching the Young Astronauts program in 1984. In his diary, Reagan wrote, "Little Drew Barrymore—the child in E.T.—was one of the children [I met]. She’s a nice little person."

13. Golden Girl in the White House

Betty White dropped by earlier this year.

14. Chef Ike

Here’s Dwight Eisenhower cooking up a storm at Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey’s Georgia plantation in 1956. One of our readers sent this to us a few years ago. As Rachael put it, “Ike appears to be pushing the head of a miniature woman into his frying basket.”

15. The First Presidential Photo

This is the first known photograph of a president, although it was taken in 1843, years after John Quincy Adams had left office.

16. Another President With Another Gymnast

If Twitter were around in 1984, this Mary Lou Retton photo is what the political reporters would have been obsessively retweeting.

17. Nixon-Elvis

No presidential photo round-up would be complete without this classic. Concerned about increased drug use in the U.S., Elvis Presley petitioned Nixon in a handwritten letter proposing he be named a “Federal Agent at Large.” Elvis wrote, “I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing, where I can and will do the most good.”

Elvis then showed up at the White House unannounced, packing two handguns—one for protection, the other as a gift for the president. After some thinking, officials let him inside with both guns in tote. At the extensively photographed meeting, Elvis showed Nixon his family photos and a collection of law enforcement badges. Later, Nixon awarded him a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, which listed Elvis’ position as “Special Assistant.”

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November 17, 2012 - 5:39am
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