Valuable celebrity high school yearbooks include Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Mickey Mantle, John F. Kennedy, Robert Redford, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Buddy Holly.
All high school yearbooks have value. But yearbooks picturing a future celebrity – whether it be a movie star, singer, professional athlete, politician, famous author, etc. – are especially prized, with some vintage examples selling for thousands of dollars.
Here are ten valuable high school yearbooks. Pay close attention out there, as sometimes celebrity yearbooks surface at garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, auctions and second-hand stores. It can pay very handsomely indeed if one takes the time to see who is lurking in that old high school annual. Look, it's Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – better known as Lady Gaga!
Marilyn Monroe, University High School, The Chieftain
Film goddess Marilyn Monroe attended University High School in West Los Angeles, California. Monroe – as Norma Baker – appears in only one edition of the school's yearbook The Chieftain, that being the 1942 issue. There she is as a sophomore on page 48, pictured in a standard headshot photo with frizzy dark hair. The 1942 Chieftain is huge with collectors, often selling in excess of $2,000.
Marilyn Monroe sophomore portrait with 1942 high school yearbook - Julien's Auctions
Elvis Presley, Humes High School, The Herald
The future King of Rock 'n' Roll and the star of 31 Hollywood movies attended Humes High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Look for Presley's 1953 senior yearbook The Herald, where the big "E" is pictured in his class photo, beneath which his school activities are listed: R.O.T.C., Biology Club, English Club, History Club and Speech Club. Elvis also appears in two candid photos, one of which pictures him with his shirt collar rebelliously turned up. Elvis also merits a Class Prophecy mention, in which his classmates envision him "picking and singing" in the future. The 1953 graduating Class of Humes High School numbered less than 200, with many seniors opting to purchase the cheaper cardboard cover version of their yearbook. Collectors desire the more expensive orange and green faux-leatherette example, with one edition selling at auction for $1,836.78.
Elvis Presley 1953 senior portrait - Humes High School, Memphis, Tennessee
James Dean, Fairmount High School, Black and Gold
The tragic star of Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) graduated from Fairmount (Indiana) High School. The big attraction is Dean's 1949 senior yearbook the Black and Gold, which pictures the future Hollywood icon in a number of photos – as a member of the basketball, baseball and track teams, as a member of the "F" Club letterman's organization and even as the Frankenstein monster in a school production. This edition of the Black and Gold is rare, as Dean's graduating class numbered but 49 students. When offered for sale at auction, this yearbook could top the $2,500 mark.
James Dean 1949 senior portrait - Fairmount (Indiana) High School
John Wayne, Glendale Union High School, Stylus
Big John Wayne attended Glendale Union High School in Glendale, California. The Duke appears under his real name – Marion Mitchell Morrison – in his 1925 senior yearbook Stylus. The future Hollywood star is featured in quite a few photos, most notably as a 170-pound standout guard on Glendale High's varsity football team. One edition of the 1925 Stylus was offered for sale at $1,995.
John Wayne as a star guard on his high school's football team - Glendale Union High School, Glendale, California
Ronald Reagan, Dixon High School, Dixonian
The future Hollywood actor and 40th President of the United States attended Dixon High School in Dixon, Illinois. Reagan is pictured in no less than ten photos in his 1928 senior yearbook Dixonian. His official senior portrait in which he is wearing a bow tie features the inspirational message, "Life is just one grand sweet song, so start the music.” The 1928 class of Dixon High numbered but 84 graduates, with this softcover yearbook valued at $1,500-2,500.
Ronald Reagan, top right, in his 1928 senior portrait - Dixon (Illinois) High School
Mickey Mantle, Commerce High School, Bengal Tales
Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle attended Commerce (Oklahoma) High School. The big attraction is The Mick's 1949 senior yearbook Bengal Tales, where the future New York Yankees superstar is pictured as a standout athlete in baseball, football and basketball. Mantle's graduating class numbered but 49 students, making the 1949 Bengal Tales a true rarity, carrying a value of $1,500-2,000.
John F. Kennedy, The Choate School, The Brief
The future 35th President of the United States attended the exclusive The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut. JFK's 1935 senior yearbook is big with collectors, often topping the $1,000 mark at auction.
John F. Kennedy, right, with fellow members of the Muckers Club circa 1934 - The Choate School, Wallingford, Connecticut
Robert Redford, Van Nuys High School, Crimson and Gray
Future Academy Award-winning actor/director Robert Redford attended Van Nuys (California) High School. The school's 1954 yearbook Crimson and Gray not only features handsome Bob Redford, but fellow seniors Don Drysdale, who is a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame, and Geraldine "Geri" McGee, the future wife of Las Vegas sports handicapper Frank Rosenthal. The character of Ginger, as played by Sharon Stone in the 1995 film Casino, was based on McGee. This yearbook is valued at $350-500.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Shortridge High School, The Shortridge Annual
The future author of such celebrated novels as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) and Breakfast of Champions (1973) attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Vonnegut's 1940 senior yearbook The Shortridge Annual is worth around $350.
Buddy Holly, Lubbock High School, The Westerner
Future rock 'n' roller Charles "Buddy" Holly, who perished in a plane crash in 1959, attended Lubbock (Texas) High School. Holly's 1955 senior yearbook The Westerner is always huge with collectors, often selling in the $500-750 range.
Buddy Holly's 1955 senior yearbook The Westerner - Heritage Auction Galleries
Ten More Collectible/Valuable Celebrity High School Yearbooks
- Janis Joplin, Thomas Jefferson High School, Port Arthur, Texas, 1960 senior yearbook The Yellow Jacket $750-900
- Bob Dylan (as Robert Zimmerman), Hibbing (Minnesota) High School, 1959 senior yearbook The Hematite $2,000
- Neil Armstrong, Blume High School, Wapakoneta, Ohio, 1947 senior yearbook Retrospect $500
- Hillary Clinton (as Hillary Rodham), Maine South High School, Park Ridge, Illinois, 1965 senior yearbook Eyrie $500
- Kirk Douglas (as Isadore "Izzy" Demsky), Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School, Amsterdam, New York, 1934 senior yearbook The Senior $600
- Michael Jordan, Laney High School, Wilmington, North Carolina, 1981 senior yearbook The Spinnaker $1,000
- Wilt Chamberlain, Overbrook High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1955 senior yearbook The Record $1,500
- Cal Ripken Jr., Aberdeen (Maryland) High School, 1978 senior yearbook Arrivederci $800
- Jack Nicklaus, Upper Arlington High School, Columbus, Ohio, 1957 senior yearbook Norwester $550
- James Stewart, Mercersburg (Pennsylvania) Academy, 1928 senior yearbook The Karux $600
Janis Joplin 1960 graduation portrait - Thomas Jefferson High School, Port Arthur, Texas
And what famous future celebrity graced your high school graduating class? Save that yearbook!
- Michael Jordan as a high school basketball star - Laney High School, Wilmington, North Carolina