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Before they were Academy Award nominees and winners, television stars, business magnates, singers, muses, activists and more, these celebrities were trying to just make it. Whether that means just trying to find their path and what they love to do, trying to model, or trying to be taken seriously in Hollywood, they were working MAD hard. Time has passed and their notoriety and fame is at its height, making them icons in their respective fields, but the photos from their early years and their life before the huge fame are still around. So what were some of the biggest names on the planet looking like back in the day? Let’s take a look at 14 of them shall we?

Grace Jones

Awwww, check out Grace Jones looking all innocent and…normal. I wonder if at this time, with hair that could have made her a fifth member in The Shirelles, she ever thought that she would become a disco and New Wave queen, a muse of Andy Warhol, make the fade fab for women, help androgynous look reign, and play a crazy model named Strangé alongside Eddie Murphy in Boomerang? Now 64, she’s still giving new pop queens like Lady Gaga a run for their money by performing all around the world and still dressing crazy, aka, rocking fashions that will be copied in 5, 4, 3,2,1…


Harry Belafonte

Before Belafonte was an activist, an actor, the Calypso King, and falling asleep on live television, he was just Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr., Harlem born, Jamaica raised. Of course, we know that he would later grow into a very handsome man, a great musician, an amazing actor, a humanitarian and the first African American to win an Emmy. Dey-O! At 85, he’s still out here giving folks the real deal.

Martha Stewart

Damn Martha! Who knew the business magnate who can teach you how to bake a mean bowl of chili and decorate for a party was once looking like THIS? Before she was making millions teaching you how to always be ready for a dinner party, Stewart was a model, even appearing in a commercial for the Unilever brand. However, her interests were always on decorating and keeping a home up, so she started a catering business, wrote a few cookbooks and more, and then blew up! She also went to jail, but you know the story behind that. Now at the age of 71, Stewart still looks great, but don’t front, I know you were shocked when you found out this was her!

Morgan Freeman

He literally looks exactly the same from his young years to his old, but just add or subtract the black hair and the freckles. Before Freeman was an Academy Award winning actor, on “The Electric Company,” playing Red in Shawshank or putting bad a** kids in check in Lean on Me as Principal Joe Clark, Freeman was just making his acting debut at the age of nine. He was so good, that by the time he was to go to college, he received a drama scholarship from Jackson State University, but passed on it so that he could go into the Air Force. But no worries, we all know he got the chance to do big things on screen either way, and he’s still killing it at 75.

Lonette McKee

So the Sparkle star might not look exactly the same, but McKee definitely is still doing her thing. She just appeared in the movie LUV with Common and was even Jason Pitts’ mother on The Game at one point. At 58, she’s still a great actress and singer, just in case you forgot.

James Earl Jones

In case you missed our Vintage Evening Eye Candy slideshow earlier in the week, we just thought we’d remind you that James Earl Jones was, and still is, one handsome fella. He just so happened to be very attractive in his early acting career. Blame it on the light eyes maybe? Now at the age of 82, Jones is a Hollywood icon, known for taking on huge roles, including being the voice of both Darth Vader and Mufasa, getting an Academy Award nomination for The Great White Hope, and interesting enough, being the voice you used to hear when you watched CNN (“This is CNN!”). Looking good James!

Maya Angelou

A beloved poet, author, speaker, Civil Rights activist and actress, Maya Angelou has accomplished a great deal in her 84 years on this planet. And to think she was once just trying to make her name known as a Calypso singer and dancer!? That’s probably why she had such a lean and long frame in the picture above. She still travels around giving thought provoking speeches and even writing a cookbook, and I’m sure when no one’s looking, she pulls out a little Calypso-inspired jig from time to time…

Robert Guillaume

Good ‘ol Robert Guillaume, better known to folks in St. Louis as Robert Williams, was, as you can see from the photo above, in the United States Army before he decided to foray into acting and blow up big time. And once he took on the role of Benson on the show Soap and the spinoff, Benson, blow up is just what he did. And while that role garnered him much acclaim and many awards, including two Emmys, he gained the hearts of many children everywhere when he voiced crazy but lovable Rafiki in The Lion King. And as you can see below, at 85, he’s still looking good!

Dame Helen Mirren

Wide-eyed and with her long blonde hair, Helen Mirren was a theater star in London before making waves on the big screen. As a young’n, she now admits that she had a rough time, doing Coke, and sadly, being date raped. But she was able to move forward from that past drug use and sexual assault in a positive manner and has come a long way. Just see her long list of awards, including an Oscar, three Golden Globes and four Emmys. The 67-year-old is winning and STILL looks hot!

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Probably my favorite black couple ever, Davis and Dee were together for 57 years, until Davis’ death in 2005. They acted together, were activists together, wrote together, won awards together and more. And as you can see from the photos below, they were and still are (in the case of now 90-year-old Dee), some very good lookin’ black folks. Kudos to them and their everlasting love, which is one we can all learn a lot from in this day and age.

Anjelica Huston

I’m personally a big fan of Anjelica Huston and have been so since The Adams Family and Adams Family Values (I know, I’m hella late), and could tell even then that she was probably one very stunning chick when she was younger, and she definitely was. A model in her teen years, she was leggy and had very strong features, and it was those good looks that helped her become a big name in film (that and the Huston name). Now we see why Jack Nicholson was so in love with her for all those years. At 61, those famous features aren’t as soft, but she definitely still looks great. Love you on Smash Anj!

Little Richard

Now THAT’S a conk (take notes Bruno Mars)! From the deep dark eyebrows, to the exaggerated hair and the John Waters creeper mustache, I’m sure it’s not too hard to tell that you’re looking at Little Richard.  But as time has changed, the hair has become more dramatic (including wig-a-licious), the makeup is a bit more stark and maybe some work has been done, but I’ll give Richard Wayne Penniman his props, he still looks great! WOOOOOOO!

Paula Deen

The Southern cooking queen whose once reckless love of all-sugar-everything and all-grease-all the time in her food made her famous (that plus a very popular restaurant in Georgia), was once a raven-haired beauty with an Elizabeth Taylor haircut and a long fabulous frame. Said frame changed as her love of cooking, which she cultivated during her time locked in the house due to agoraphobia, grew stronger. But so did her bank account. But after recently being diagnosed with diabetes, Deen is slimming down fast due to a change in her diet, which her family supports by taking part in as well. Looks like bagging back on all those Krispy Kreme burgers was the best bet.

Diahann Carroll

The ultimate gorgeous black Hollywood diva, Diahann Carroll, like many women on this list, got her start in modeling, and she specifically was a famous fabulous face for Ebony. But Carroll had more than modeling as plans for her future, because the beauty would go on to be the first African American woman with her own television show, playing a non-stereotypical role in Julia. She was also an Academy Award nominee for her work in the 1974 classic, Claudine. At 77, she’s still a mainstay on television, and she still look fab-u-lous. Don’t you agree?

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