The crew of the Challenger, moments before their final flight on January 28, 1986

The crew of the Challenger, moments before their final flight on January 28, 1986

We can find a myriad of narratives in historical photos, and not all of them are pleasant. They can show us slices of life that we’d rather not think about, and startling images that we can’t look away from. The photos in this collection of chilling points in history will shake you to your core. Many of these shots will keep you up at night, while others will be impossible to look away from.

Be advised, some of these photos are going to be tough to look at, but others will take your breath away. You need to take a long look at each of these shots that show unnerving moments in history. Keep reading, and remember to use caution.

The dangers of space travel always seem so far away. We think of the astronauts running out of oxygen or bouncing off the moon into the cold blackness of space, but it’s the takeoffs that really pose a threat to astronauts. That’s never been more apparent than on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after taking off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, killing all seven astronauts on board. One passenger on board, Christa McAuliffe, was a teacher chosen for the flight by NASA’s Teacher in Space” program. All loss of life is tragic, but to lose non-professional personal is absolutely shocking.

Muhammad Ali talks a suicidal veteran down from a high rise, 1981

Muhammad Ali has always been an inspirational figure, and even when he was down on his luck he knew that he was destined to change the world. After returning to the world of boxing Ali fought in “The Thrilla in Manilla” against Joe Frazier, a bout that changed him irrevocably. He was no longer the wise cracking whipper snapper who could lay someone out with his fists and his words, he was an aging boxer, but that didn’t stop Ali from trying to make a difference.

On e of Joe was working up the nerve to jump out of a window in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. There were people on the street telling him to jump to his death while the police tried to coax him inside. Joe told them that he was “no good,” but a few minutes later boxing legend Muhammad Ali drove up the street in a Rolls-Royce. He ran into the building and up to a nearby window where he shouted for the young man to re-evaulate his life. According to the New York Times Ali shouted, “You’re my brother! I love you, and I couldn’t lie to you,” before getting out on the fire escape and guiding the man inside and taking him to a near by veteran’s hospital.

One of the final photos taken of Sharon Tate

Taken days before she was murdered by the Manson family, this photo of Sharon Tate was taken by Terry O’Neill while the young actress hung around her house on Cielo Drive and even while she unwrapped baby clothes. O’Neill and Tate spent all day on August 4, 1969 taking photos. Three days later she was stabbed to death after having dinner at El Coyote. In 2019 O’Neill told the Daily Mail that it’s hard for him to think about the photos because of what could have been:

James Dean at a gas station in 1955 was just before his fatal car accident

On es Dean took his last drive in “Little Bastard,” his Porsche 550 Spyder. He planned on heading to an auto rally in Salinas, California, somewhere he could cut loose and not have to be a stoic actor. Dean liked to drive fast and his small collection of Porches gave him all the horsepower that he needed. In 1955 Dean raced in the Palm Springs Road Races, the Minter Field Bakersfield race, and the Santa Barbara Road Races. There’s no word if he placed, but that wasn’t the point, he just wanted to fly. Dean initially wanted to tow the Porche to Salinas, but then he decided to drive the car to the race at the last minute. That afternoon, Dean suffered a head on collision with a Ford Tudor on Highway 466. The driver of the Tudor and Dean’s passenger survived, but Dean was killed instantly. He was only 24-years-old.

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