Trump joins the lineup of history’s most famous mug shots (2023)


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Ever since the indictments against Donald Trump started coming in a few months ago, the public has wondered: Was a former president about to be perp-walked? Handcuffed? Fingerprinted? And, perhaps most importantly in this digital age, would there be a mug shot?

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Trump avoided the booking photo with his first three indictments, but that changed Thursday when he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in connection with his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. Photos of his alleged co-conspirators have trickled in over the past few days as well, including former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Mug shot aficionados now have a new historic photo to add to this pantheon. Here is a look at some others.

The mug shot inventor

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The first mug shot ever taken — in 1888 — was of an innocent man. Or at least, a man who was not under arrest. It was Alphonse Bertillon, a French police officer and researcher.


Police had already been photographing suspects from the earliest moments of photography, but the type and quality of the images varied dramatically. Bertillon theorized that standardizing the process would be a more useful tool. And, thus, the mug shot was born.

Here he is demonstrating his famous format in 1912.

Bertillon posed in two shoulders-up portraits, one from the front and one in profile, and attached them to a card with his name, the date and other identifying information.

Dictator mug shots

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Trump has become the first former president with a mug shot, but he isn’t the first world leader with one. Some of the 20th century’s most notorious dictators got them on their way to power.

Here’s a youthful-looking Vladimir Lenin after being arrested in St. Petersburg for his revolutionary activities, in either 1895 or 1897. Twenty years later, he would be the head of government of Soviet Russia.

And here’s Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, in a 1911 mug shot after one of many arrests. He was in his early 30s at the time.

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was a young man, he fled Italy’s military draft and went to Switzerland. He was arrested there in 1903 and deported.

Criminal mug shots

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Al Capone was the notorious leader of Chicago’s mob, but he was finally, famously taken down on federal tax evasion charges in 1931. Here he is in a mug shot taken in 1932, at the beginning of his stint in federal prison in Atlanta.

When Capone was released nine years later, he was frail, sick and unable to return to his life of crime.

Lee Harvey Oswald’s mug shot, taken in the hours after he assassinated President John F. Kennedy and a Dallas police officer on Nov. 22, 1963, might have become the most famous image of him, were it not for the incredible photo of him being shot and killed by Jack Ruby a few days later.

Lee Harvey Oswald's final hours before killing Kennedy

Civil rights mug shots

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Mug shots aren’t just for notorious historical figures. Many of the nation’s biggest heroes acquired them during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. Here, a 43-year-old Rosa Parks sits for a mug shot on Feb. 22, 1956, in Montgomery, Ala. Though famous, this photo was not taken the day she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a White man on Dec. 1, 1955, but a few months later when the Montgomery bus boycott was in full swing.

Like a lot of civil rights leaders, the late congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) had a number of mug shots to choose from. In 2014, he tweeted this one taken in Jackson, Miss., in 1961. Lewis sports a noticeable smirk.

53 yrs ago today I was released from Parchman Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson for using "white" restroom

— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 7, 2014

Recy Taylor's brutal rape: The NAACP sent Rosa Parks to investigate

Celebrity mug shots

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Celebrity mug shots are a genre unto themselves, notable for providing that rare opportunity to see the rich and beautiful brought low. Many, like Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber, have chosen to smile for the police camera like it was paparazzi, but a few have become legendary — for their defiance, their infamy and their wretchedness.

When actress and activist Jane Fonda was arrested in Cleveland on trumped-up drug-smuggling charges in 1970, she raised up a defiant fist in her mug shot. The charges were soon dropped, and Fonda still sells merchandise such as mugs and T-shirts with the image on her personal website.

When football star and actor O.J. Simpson was arrested in Los Angeles in 1994, his mug shot immediately became one of the most notorious in history — and not just because of the seriousness of the murder charges against him. The next week, when Time magazine put the mug shot on its cover, it altered the image to make Simpson’s skin appear darker, causing an uproar for which it apologized.

Actor Nick Nolte’s frazzled appearance in this 2002 mug shot became the butt of late-night jokes for years, but for Nolte, it was a sign to seek help with his drug addiction. The morning of his arrest, Nolte took the street drug GHB, which he had been abusing for four years, before going to the gym, he wrote in his 2018 memoir. Later, he was pulled over by police after driving wildly down a highway and arrested.

“In 1992, People magazine had named me the ‘Sexiest Man Alive,’ and now, 10 years later, I looked to all the world like a madman,” he wrote. Nolte soon entered a treatment center.

Donald Trump’s father was arrested, too. Twice.

The Meeks mug shot

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A lot of famous people have mug shots, but model and actor Jeremy Meeks may be the first person to become famous because of his mug shot. Meeks was arrested in 2014 on a felony weapons charge, and when his booking photo hit the internet, millions of people noticed he was, uh, rather attractive — if, you know, baby blues, chiseled jaw, perfectly proportioned nose and pillowy lips are your kind of thing.

When Meeks was released from a California correctional institution in 2016, he had a modeling contract. Seven years later, he is a wildly successful model, has acted in BET movies, has his own fashion line in Germany and has a child with his billionaire heiress ex-girlfriend. He is also active in charity work benefiting foster children and kids in juvenile detention. “I’m so GRATEFUL,” he recently wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard to believe how much my life has changed.”

Billionaire mug shots

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Trump has long claimed to be a billionaire. But he wouldn’t be the first billionaire with a mug shot. When Microsoft founder Bill Gates was in his early 20s, he was pulled over in New Mexico for blowing through a stop sign. Police then discovered he wasn’t carrying a driver’s license and arrested him. He didn’t look too concerned about it in his mug shot.

Bill Gates’ mug shot in 1977 after he was arrested for a traffic violation:

— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) September 2, 2022

Other billionaires have been arrested and had booking photos taken, namely Trump associate Jeffrey Epstein for alleged sexual crimes in 2006 — he died while in custody in 2019 — and Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, an associate of Stephen K. Bannon, earlier this year for alleged financial crimes.

Politician mug shots

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One of the old clichés about American politicians is that they’re fastidiously groomed, perfectly coifed and always ready to flash their too-pearly whites for the cameras. (Holding a baby is preferable, but not required.)


Unfortunately, these mug shots of politicians do nothing to dispel this stereotype.

Behold the 2011 mug shot of disgraced former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), when he faced charges of misusing campaign funds to hide the existence of his mistress and their child:

And here’s Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) getting booked for abuse of power in 2014:

Not to be outdone, fellow Texas Republican Tom DeLay wore a broad smile and his congressional pin in his mug shot when he was indicted on money-laundering charges in 2005.

In the end, though, these elected officials had something to smile about: All three eventually beat the charges they faced.

A version of this story was originally published on April 3, 2023.

More on presidential history


  • A century before Trump’s term, a president paid a mistress to stay silent April 2, 2023A century before Trump’s term, a president paid a mistress to stay silent April 2, 2023
  • Obama had a secret note in his pocket during his inauguration in case of an attackJanuary 20, 2021Obama had a secret note in his pocket during his inauguration in case of an attackJanuary 20, 2021
  • A famed folk singer won a presidential pardon after molesting a child. Did he prey on others?May 17, 2021A famed folk singer won a presidential pardon after molesting a child. Did he prey on others?May 17, 2021


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