Donald Trump and history's most famous mugshots

From politicians to celebrities, police photographs have long captivated the public

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Few mugshots have been as eagerly awaited as that of Donald Trump, which was released on Thursday after the former US president surrendered to Georgia authorities over charges he tried to overturn 2020 election results.

However, some of the most notable mugshots have been the least expected, such as Hugh Grant's in 1995. The seemingly clear-cut rom-com star, known for his international hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, was arrested in Los Angeles for lewd conduct with a prostitute. He was in a relationship with actress Liz Hurley at the time.

Other celebrities adored by the public only to find their police photos on the front page of papers and magazines include Frank Sinatra, Lindsay Lohan, Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen and Tiger Woods.

One mugshot that transcended the initial arrest was that of renowned actress Jane Fonda.

In 1970, Fonda was arrested by Cleveland police on suspicion of drug trafficking. She was returning to the US from Canada after participating in an anti-war university speaking tour. Fonda was against the Vietnam War, a stance that was deemed by some as anti-American.

The black and white mugshot, where she is pictured raising her fist, has become synonymous with the actress, and a symbol of solidarity and defiance. The charges against her were dropped after the pills in her possession were found to be vitamins.

Celebrity factor

Some celebrity mugshots have been sold as merchandise – with photographers and fashion designers taking inspiration from the format. From the tight composition to the sombre tone, the mugshot has influenced photographers and artists such as Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition in 2016 entitled Crimes Stories: Photography and Foul Play that showcased works of art and practices inspired by crime and its documentation.

Fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen and many others have also created collections, editorials and fashion campaigns, infused with elements of the mugshot.

History of the mugshot

In 1888 French police officer Alphonse Bertillon created the prototype of what we now call the mugshot.

The two photos of the arrested individual, including one front and one profile shot, along with information on the subject’s physical features, were used by authorities for record keeping. They were also a means for victims to identify their attackers and have been used in wanted posters to keep the public informed.

The mugshot format has endured over the years, and on occasion has entered the public consciousness through popular culture. The stern photographs of public figures provide a stark contrast to their usual depictions; whether on television, red carpets or glossy magazine covers.

Updated: August 25, 2023, 7:15 AM