Most improved: George Clooney

If this photo of George Clooney in middle school does nothing but give just one über goober boy hope that he, too, may grow to up to be as hot as Mr Clooney, this portrait will have done its job:

(What’s with that extra bit of hair over his right eye? Did he cut his own bangs?)

To show how the kid slowly evolved into the Oscar-winning actor who was twice named as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, witness:

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Prince parties like it’s 1974

Even as a high school sophomore, Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) had attitude to spare!

This pic of the man formerly known as that little symbol thingy was taken at Central High School in Minneapolis in 1974 — four years before his first album was released:

Regardless of what you think about Prince’s later accomplishments, you have to admit one thing: With that hair — that collar — that ‘stache… this one school portrait perfectly captures the essence of ’70s style.

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Bruce Willis, before his hair died with a vengeance

Even though he’s now bald — bald as a ping-pong ball bald — Bruce Willis had a full head of hair even in adulthood.

Reports suggest that Bruce lost the privilege of hair ownership, however, by trimming it into a John Denver-inspired hairstyle:

Bruce Willis with hair

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What are you people looking at, anyway?

For more than a century, artsy-fartsy photographers decided that people ought to be looking off into the distance for their portraits. Thing is, we all know they were in a photo studio (or even just a school gym), and weren’t likely to be gazing upon anything more extraordinary than a beer can ashtray or some used gym towels.

There was the 60s/70s look of dreamy charm:

thanks to Erika Herzog

The slightly pensive smile of the 50s/60s:

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Hey – the lamp wasn’t their idea

This pic highlights just one of the problems with chain store portrait studios: their nonsensical use of props. Specifically, what’s with the red oil lantern here? (No, these kids are not Amish.)

Ah, it’s all part of the era of hyper-posed studio photography so popular in the 1970s. Other clues: The matchy-matchy clothes and each boy sitting with a single well-placed hand — one on either side of the oil lamp — on the stool in front of them.

The kids themselves are cute, and we know now that they were just innocent pawns in the mass-produced contrived photo studio setups of their times. <sniff>

Photo courtesy of Tony Crider

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