Totally Awesome Retro Celebrity School Photos

1 Matthew McConaughey

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Matthew McConaughey’s breakout role was when he starred in the movie Dazed and Confused. His laid-back character stole the show and, by the looks of this school portrait, he was more like the character than we thought when he was a teenager.

McConaughey wore a choker necklace in his sophomore yearbook photo at Longview High School in Texas in 1986. He also rocked a killer tan. We can admit that we would have crushed on him hard if we went to the same school as him. He already had a star quality about him.

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2 Reese Witherspoon

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It’s hard to believe that the sweet little girl in this school photo would grow up to be an award-winning actress and producer. Reese Witherspoon burst onto the Hollywood scene when she was just 14 years old after being cast in the film Man on the Moon. 

She went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Actress, but we can’t get over just how adorable she looks in this childhood photograph. From her cute smile to the monogrammed tag on her dress, it’s clear that Witherspoon was born to be on the big screen. The camera even loved her back then.

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3 Jennifer Lawrence

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Jennifer Lawrence is an Academy Award-winning actress. Rolling Stone dubbed her the “coolest chick in Hollywood”. Yet, before she became famous, she was just an ordinary 8th grader at Kammerer Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky.

She clearly had a thing for funky earrings. In spite of this, she finished school two years early and graduated with a 3.9, so she got beauty and brains. Lawrence set her sights on Hollywood and never looked back, landing her breakout role in the drama Winter’s Bone. It’s so cool to see her looking like a normal 14-year-old girl instead of a glamorous movie star.

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4 Ryan Seacrest

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Most people go through an awkward stage as a kid but this school photo of Ryan Seacrest takes the cake. He’s been open about being bullied because of his weight when he was in Elementary School in Dunwoody, Georgia.

He told Men’s Health about that experience, “I also remember at times being teased about it, and because of that it’s still in my brain. I never want to feel that way again, and that motivates me to strive hard for balance without cutting anything that I truly enjoy, but while also knowing I can’t have it all the time.”

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5 Kelly Clarkson

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Kelly Clarkson got her big start when she won Season 1 of American Idol. She’s one of the hardest working celebs in Hollywood, serving as a judge on The Voice and having her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show. It’s awesome to look back at her humble beginnings when she was just a little girl.

This sweet childhood photo of Clarkson is just about as cute as they come. She had that million-dollar smile even back then, and how sassy was her blonde hair? Her little girl, River Rose, is the spitting image of her mom at this age.

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6 Snoop Dogg

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You would know it by looking at this yearbook pic, but that’s actually a portrait of Snoop Dogg from his senior year at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Back in 1989, his name was Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., but his nickname was “Snoopy”.

Fast forward a few decades and he’s now the man we call Snoop Dogg. He sure was clean cut in those days. Although, we suspect he cleaned up for his senior portrait. Regardless, he’d grow up to provide vocals for the hit “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and other chart-topping tunes.

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7 Sandra Bullock

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Sandra Bullock is America’s sweetheart, starring in films like Miss Congeniality and The Lost City. Yet, there was a time when she was an awkward teenager, just like the rest of us. The actress attended Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.

She was on the cheerleading squad and a member of the drama club before she graduated in 1982. Even though her bangs were a little bit goofy, you can totally see a movie star just waiting to come out of her shell in this senior portrait. Her big break would come 12 years later when she starred in Speed with Keanu Reeves.

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8 Jennifer Lopez

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Jennifer Lopez got her start as a “Fly Girl” on the sketch comedy show In Living Color. She went on to be a singer, dancer, actress, and fashion mogul. Before she made it into the big, she really was just “Jenny from the Block,” as you can see from her senior portrait.

Lopez was just a fresh-faced teen when she posed for this photograph, along with her senior quote: “What a lovely dream come true to love someone who loves you.” She seems to have finally found true love with a boyfriend from the past, Ben Affleck, seventeen years after they split up.

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9 Tom Cruise

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You can’t get much more A-list Hollywood than Tom Cruise. From Top Gun to Mission: Impossible, he ignites the screen in whatever movie he stars in. Cruise has proven to have staying power and continues to star in blockbuster films to this day.

So it’s cool to see him before he was famous in his senior yearbook photo. He graduated from Glen Ridge High School in 1980, only one year before he would be cast in his first roles, in both Endless Love and Taps. He was such a handsome teenager. You can tell that he was destined for greatness with that smile.

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10 Renée Zellweger

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Renée Zellweger was an all-American girl when she went to high school in Katy, Texas. She was on the cheerleading squad, vice-president of her class, and voted “Dream Date” by her classmates on her senior year in 1987.

Of course, she was totally in style with her sky-high bangs, which was the look in the late 80s. You can tell by looking at her that she was totally the “It” girl in high school. She went on to land her first big movie role when she was cast in Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise, grabbing the attention of Hollywood and launching a successful career.

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11 Dwayne Johnson

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Dwayne Johnson found fame as a wrestler who was known as “The Rock,” and later took in acting with his first leading role in The Scorpion King. Johnson posted a hilarious throwback pic on Instagram from his awkward years in school. He wrote the caption: “Throwback to 7 years old in Hawaii, and just drippin’ cool with my buck teeth [and] aloha shirt.”

He added: “WTF is going on with my afro matted down on one side!?🤦🏽‍♂️ No way this stud doesn’t grow up to become Sexiest Man Alive 🤣 #HellooooLadies #BuckyJohnson #SmellsLikeHotDogs #KingOf2ndGrade.”

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12 Winona Ryder

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Winona Ryder may be a superstar now, but she was just a goofy-looking kid when she was in junior high. With a short pixie cut and penchant for wearing men’s clothing, Ryder was bullied often in school and talked about her scary experiences in her biography, Winona Ryder: The Biography. 

“I was wearing an old Salvation Army shop boy’s suit. As I went to the bathroom, I heard people saying, ‘Hey, [homophobic slur].’ They slammed my head into a locker. I fell to the ground, and they started to kick the s*** out of me. I had to have stitches.”

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13 Julia Roberts

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Julia Roberts found her place on the big screen when she was cast in the movie Mystic Pizza, but it was her role as Vivian in Pretty Woman that really solidified her as a star. She’s been a Hollywood darling with an unforgettable smile for decades.

We love to see this school photo of her at the tender age of eleven. It’s clear that she was stylish even back then with her feathered hair and pink dress with ruched turtle neck. Who could miss that amazing grin? You can see that she had a bright future ahead.

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14 Justin Bieber

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Justin Bieber may be a heartthrob now, but even he went through a few awkward teenage years. Take a look at his 8th-grade yearbook photo when he was just a baby-faced kid attending Stratford Northwestern Public School in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

Take a look at that silly haircut! We’re sure that style was all the rage back when he was an 8th grader, but it’s a bit cringy to see now. Thank goodness he grew up and got over this stage of his life. He’s now married to Hailey Bieber and continues to create chart-topping songs.

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15 Kurt Cobain

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Kurt Cobain was larger than life as the lead singer of the band Nirvana, whose first hit was the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Here we have a school photo from when he was just a little guy attending Robert Gray Elementary School in Capital Heights, Maryland.

He looks like an ordinary kid, so it’s hard to believe that he would one day be such a huge rock star. Unfortunately, fame became to be too much for him and he tragically succumbed to mental illness in 1994. It’s nice to have this sweet image of him as a child to remember him by.

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16 Jennifer Garner

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Jennifer Garner may be a glamorous movie star now, but she used to be a total nerd when she was a kid. The actress shared a Throwback Thursday photo on Instagram to celebrate Thanksgiving and it was a doozy. From her awful hairstyle to her yellow jumper, she is all of us who grew up in the 80s.

Garner posted this school photograph along with the caption, “This week I’m grateful for…[email protected] #SometimesThe8DollarHaircutWorked #SometimesItDidnt #WithVirtue, of course (sic).” The actress took a moment to show gratitude for her hairstylist, Adir Abergel, who she collaborates with at hair brand Virtue Labs.

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17 Bruno Mars

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Bruno Mars is the master of funk and soul, but before he hit it big, he was known as Peter Hernandez. Here he is in his 2003 senior portrait from his time at President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He was already rocking his amazing style with that epic afro. It’s no wonder he made it big a mere seven years later with his first hit single, “Just the Way You Are”. He had obvious star power back then and continues to make music that hits the charts to this day.

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18 Jason Sudeikis

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Do you recognize this cute kiddo? We’ll give you a hint: he got his start as a writer for Saturday Night Live. Do you give up? Funnyman Jason Sudeikis broke into film with his role in Horrible Bosses. Yet, before he became Ted Lasso, he was just a cute little kid in an ugly sweater.

He attended Brookridge Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas. We’re just teasing about the ugly sweater because he was one adorable little guy. You can tell by the twinkle in his eye that he was destined for amazing things in the future.

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19 Melissa McCarthy

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Melissa McCarthy’s breakout role was in the film Bridesmaids. The actress sat down with Anderson Cooper and revealed this amazing yearbook photo from her time at St. Francis Academy in Joliet, Illinois.

She joked about going from cheerleader to goth over the course of the summer. “Yeah, like in one summer I played tennis, I was on student council, I was a cheerleader. Then, like the next, I think it was like the next year. Oh, my God, I forgot about that,” she continued. “I was super preppy, and by the end, blue-black hair that I’d shave in patches.”

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20 Amy Poehler

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Fans were treated to this hilarious yearbook photo of Amy Poehler, thanks to Conan O’Brien. He shared her senior portrait when she was a guest on his show, Conan. Her hairstyle may look ridiculous by today’s standards, but back in the day, ladies sprayed an entire can of Aquanet hairspray on their bangs to achieve this look.

Poehler took everything in stride after having her awkward years exposed to the world. “Every day I would walk into school and just be, like, ‘You’re welcome, fellas!'” Poehler joked about the photograph. We get the feeling that the fellas liked what they saw with all that 80s flair.

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21 Kathie Lee Gifford

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Kathie Lee Gifford has been a morning talk show fixture for decades, but before she became famous, she attended Bowie High School, located in Bowie, Maryland. Proving to be multi-talented, Gifford sang in a folk group named Pennsylvania Next Right, which played at school assemblies.

She graduated in 1971 and you could have guessed that she was a 70s graduate based on her school photo alone. From her stick-straight hair to her untouched eyebrows, her natural beauty really shines through in this yearbook photo. Her big break would come in 1988 when she was paired with Regis Philbin in the show LIVE! with Regis and Kathie Lee.

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22 Mariah Carey

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Here we have a young Mariah Carey in all of her glory. The future pop diva went to Harborfields High School, located in Greenlawn, New York. She graduated in 1987, which is obvious thanks to her huge bangs and impressively feathered hair. That’s quite some curls she had going on.

After graduation, Carey moved to New York City to break into the music scene. The singer launched her career just three years later in 1990 with the release of her first single “Vision of Love”. She would go on to win 5 Grammy awards and 21 Billboard music awards.

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23 Weird Al

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It’s no shock to see that Weird Al was a total nerd in high school. We all know him as Weird Al, but his real name is Alfred Matthew Yankovic, which is what his classmates knew him by. He attended Lynwood High School, located just outside of Los Angeles, California.

Did you know that he actually graduated two years early? He was just 16 years old and the valedictorian of his class in 1975. It’s no wonder that he would one day become a famous parody singer with hits like “Like a Surgeon” and “Eat It”.

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24 Cameron Diaz

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Why does it come as no surprise that Cameron Diaz was a cheerleader? This yearbook photo from Long Beach Polytechnic High School gives us proof that Diaz was always one of the popular girls. She graduated in 1990 and was a total dream girl back in the day.

The actress has a fellow celebrity in her midst during high school. Snoop Dogg attended the same school. He spoke to Yahoo Music and revealed what crowd Diaz rolled with at the time. “She ran with my homegirls, all my little cheerleading homegirls,” Snoop revealed. “She was in [their] little crew.”

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25 Jay-Z

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Jay-Z looks cute as a button in this throwback photo that his wife, Beyoncé, posted on Instagram. Of course, when the photo was snapped, he was known as Shawn Carter, and was just a kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York. How adorable is that little graduation photo?

Queen B shared the pic to celebrate his album “Magna Carta Holy Grail” going platinum. She wrote the caption, “Platinum #MagnaCarta.” We love that she showed her support by giving fans a glimpse of Jat-Z before he made it big. Who would’ve known that little guy would become a huge rapper?

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26 Debra Messing

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Debra Messing may be a glam movie star now, but she was once an awkward kid, just like the rest of us, and this throwback photo proves it. The actress grew up in Rhode Island but had Hollywood aspirations even when she was a child.

She opened up during an interview with The Gentlewoman and revealed that her love for acting began when her parents took her to see plays on Broadway as a little girl. “I remember levitating off my seat, amazed that there were these people, arm’s length away, singing and dancing. It’s always been magic to me,” she said.

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27 Fergie

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Fergie stole the stage in the band The Black Eyed Peas, and later with her solo career. Not only is she a talented singer, but she had tons of school spirit as a teenager. Before she became Fergie, she went by Stacy Ferguson, and she was a cheerleader.

Back in 1992, she was a senior at Glen. A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, California. She cheered on the football field for the Wildcats, and this epic photograph of her in uniform appeared in her school yearbook. You can just tell that she was the envy of all the girls in her class.

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28 George Clooney

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George Clooney has always been a heartthrob, as you can tell from this yearbook photo. Even with goofy hair and a devilish grin, he was still quite handsome. He attended Augusta High School, located in Augusta, Kentucky.

The actor graduated in 1979 and was very active in school activities. He was part of the Drama Club, Beta Club, and an officer of the Science club. On top of that, he played basketball and baseball as well as being named Prom Prince his senior year. Clooney would grow up to one day become an A-list actor and social activist.

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29 Tom Hanks

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Way before Tom Hanks graced our screens in movies like Big and Forrest Gump, he was a regular guy who attended Skyline High School in Oakland, California. He graduated with the class of 1974 and his senior yearbook photo could not have a more 70s vibe.

From the shaggy hair to the huge bow tie, he looks like a typical teenager from that era. Of course, we all know him as a superstar that is married to Rita Wilson. Yet, it’s comforting to know that before he shined in the bright lights of Hollywood, he sometimes had a bad hair day, just like everyone else.

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30 Courtney Cox

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Courteney Cox had a natural beauty as a teenager that really shines through in this yearbook photo. She attended Mountain Brook High School in Mountain Brook, Alabama, and graduated in 1992. As you would imagine, Cox was very involved in sports and other clubs when she was a student.

She was a member of the swim team and played tennis. She was also a cheerleader. The actress also got her first taste of modeling when she was a senior, appearing in an ad for the store Parisians. She would sign with the Ford Modeling Agency after graduating high school.

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31 Beyoncé

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Before becoming Queen B, the celebrity that the whole world now knows, Beyoncé was a young girl like any other, or almost. She studied at the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. This photo is from her ninth year school’s yearbook.

Beyoncé made her name with the group Destiny’s Child, who released in 1997 their major label debut song “Killing Time,” created for the movie Men in Black. Already, seeing this picture of her, we understand that Beyoncé already exuded a lot of determination and that she was destined for great things.

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32 Liam Hemsworth

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Before becoming the star of the Hunger Games movies and the great actor he is today, Liam Hemsworth, one of the most famous Australian actors, also had to go through the ungrateful period of adolescence. This picture is from his freshman year at the Newhaven College on Phillip Island, in Victoria, Australia.

It was during his high school years that he began to seriously consider following in his brother Chris’ footsteps and becoming an actor. At the time, he participated in school plays. He also surfed competitively until he was 18, and judging by his curly blond hair in the picture, he had the look for the job!

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33 Katy Perry

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Before becoming the popular singer we know, Katy Perry, whose real name is Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, was a young girl raised in a very religious family. Her parents are pastors, after all! She often changed schools because of this, but this picture is from her freshman year at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California.

She dropped out of school after that year, however, in 2000, at the age of 15, to pursue her music career. She released her first album, Katy Hudson, in 2001, but only managed to break through in 2008 with her second album, One of the Boys, and its single “I Kissed a Girl”.

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34 Channing Tatum

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Suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and dyslexia, Channing Tatum struggled in school. Still, the popular sportsman—he played soccer, soccer, track, and baseball—says his biggest distraction in school was girls. He had a lot of charisma back then, if this photo is any indication, so there’s no doubt that he was a distraction for the girls, too!

He graduated from Tampa Catholic High School in 1998. His career began as a dancer, when he was selected to appear in the music video for Ricky Martin’s song “She Bangs”. He went on to model and then broke through as an actor in 2006 with roles in the films She’s The Man and Step Up.

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35 Blake Lively

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Before she became the star she is today and married the Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively was just a teenager studying at John Muir Middle School in Burbank, California. This photo of her is from her eighth-grade yearbook, taken in 2001. Blake Lively was an active teenager! In high school, she was a cheerleader, a member of the championship choir, and the class president.

Blake Lively’s acting career took off in 2005 with the film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination for “Choice Movie Breakout – Female.” Many know her from her role as Serena van der Woodsen in the series Gossip Girl, though, which she played for 6 seasons, from 2007 to 2012.

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36 Gwen Stefani

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Gwen Stefani is the type of person that stands out no matter what, and this high school photo proves that she’s always been that way. She attended Loara High School in Anaheim, California, and graduated in 1987. The No Doubt singer was popular with her classmates and participated in several school activities.

From being on the swim team to drawing the art for her yearbook, Stefani had that special star quality from a young age. Although, we love how approachable she looked in her senior portrait. Frosted lipstick was popular at the time, so she was even on-trend as a teenager.

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37 Pamela Anderson

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Pamela Anderson may be a blonde bombshell now, but this throwback picture she shared on social media tells a different story. The actress posted a school portrait in support of an anti-bullying campaign, and by the looks of it, she’s not a natural blonde. Although, she was a natural beauty.

She wrote the caption: “Welcome #Back2School with @AntiBullyingPro-share your school photo- http://back2school.antibullyingpro.com To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight. #EECummings.”

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38 Dax Shepard

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It’s so fun when celebrities share childhood photos on social media and this pic of Dax Shepard is even better because his wife, Kristen Bell, posted this school photo of her hubby along with the caption, “#tbt to the cutest kid in class. @daxshepard.”

He was pretty darn cute! Shepard grew up in Milford, which is a suburb outside of Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from high school in 1995 and moved to Los Angeles the same year to become an actor. His breakout role was in the prank show Punk’d with Ashton Kutcher. Yet, we’ll always remember him as the fresh-faced kiddo in this photograph.

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39 Catherine Zeta-Jones

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It doesn’t get much more adorable than this epic photo posted by Catherine Zeta-Jones. The actress posted a throwback school photo on Instagram and we can’t believe what a little cutie she was in pigtails and wearing her tidy school uniform.

The actress captioned the photo: “😂This is probably the best official school portrait I have. 😂full on ragamuffin.” We agree, she was quite a ragamuffin. Despite the fact that she grew up to be a glamorous actress, she still has that beautiful smile that she did as a little girl. Some things never change, we suppose.

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40 Bruce Willis

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Back in 1973, Bruce Willis was a senior at Penns Grove High School, in Carneys Point, New Jersey. Before he made it big in Hollywood, he had a busy schedule as a teenager and was so popular that he was even president of the school council.

The actor always had a love for acting and was a member of the drama club and a member of the PGHS TV Crew. It’s no wonder he grew up to star in blockbuster films like Die Hard and The Fifth Element. It’s obvious that he was destined for fame with that full head of hair.

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41 Jessica Biel

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Long before Jessica Biel grew up to marry Justin Timberlake, she was a little girl who was raised in Boulder, Colorado. Look at her sweet face and cute braids! It’s no wonder she would one day grow up to be a successful actress in her own right.

Her breakout role came when she was cast as Mary Camden in the family drama series 7th Heaven in 1996. Since then, she’s solidified herself as an A-list Hollywood actress. She wed Justin Timberlake in October 2012 and they share two sons, Phineas and Silas.

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42 Mandy Moore

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Before Mandy Moore became a star, she was a teenager who posed for a cringy school portrait. The This Is Us actress shared this amazing pic on Instagram and wrote the caption, “7th-grade fake smile #tbt.” We can all relate a bit too well to this middle school picture.

Her acting debut came in 6th grade when she was cast in the school play Guys and Dolls. “The show was everything, my entire world,” Moore told the Orange Observer. “As the date approached, I remember being beside myself with adrenaline and nerves.”

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43 Michelle Obama

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama took to Instagram to support the graduating class of 2021 and shared her own graduation photo, along with the caption, “Congratulations, Class of 2021! 🎉 From navigating virtual learning to finding new ways to develop relationships with teachers and classmates—while somehow submitting your assignments on time.”

“You overcame so much this year with grace and humor. You should be incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished. When I think about how you must be feeling right now, I am reminded of my own experience as a younger woman, just getting started as an adult.”

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44 Kelly Ripa

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Let’s take a moment to celebrate Kelly Ripa’s huge 80s hair that she wore in her senior portrait. This awful permed look was all the rage when she graduated from Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey. Her bangs were so impressive.

She was a cheerleader in high school and was encouraged by her drama teacher to pursue acting. Her first big role was playing Hayley Vaughan on the ABC daytime soap opera All My Children in 1990. She played the on-screen love interest of her real-life husband, Mark Consuelos, who she met on the set.

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45 Meg Ryan

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Meg Ryan grew up in Bethel, Connecticut, and attended Bethel High School. The actress graduated in 1979 and was heavily involved in school activities and clubs when she was a teenager. It’s no surprise that she starred in the school play and was at the top of her class.

Ryan was America’s sweetheart when she starred in several romantic comedies in the 90s like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. Although, she eventually left Hollywood and quit acting after rumors circulated that she left her husband, Dennis Quaid, for Against The Ropes costar, Russell Crowe. She looked so innocent in high school.

Leigh Hewett

Freelance writer and pop culture junkie, Leigh Hewett loves to keep her finger on the pulse of celebrity news. Her work has been featured on TheTalko, Babygaga, and TheRichest. Her hobbies include keeping up with the Kardashians, eating french fries, and driving her two sons to and from basketball practice, all while blasting 90s hip hop from her minivan.

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