Boys are thrilled and afraid as they ride an elevator for the first time. A woman worries as her astronaut husband soars through space. A man—Bob Hope—is letting an audience know he about to try his hardest to make them laugh.

Here, LIFE.com pulls from its archives a series of expressions—from people and, in a few cases, animals—that are both wordless and deeply rich. It’s a reminder that while communications by computer or phone call are certainly convenient, there is no quicker way to understand what a person is feeling than by looking them in the eye.


Bob Hope, 1941

Peter Stackpole Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Donald the dog-loving duck plays with his friend, Trigger, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, 1949.

Donald the dog-loving duck plays with his (seemingly embarrassed) friend, Trigger, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, 1949.

Loomis Dean Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Mrs. Leland S. McCleery watches her Michigan Wolverines lose to the Wisconsin Badgers, 1959.

Mrs. Leland S. McCleery watches her Michigan Wolverines lose to the Wisconsin Badgers, 1959.

Paul Schutzer Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

An intensely concerned Dr. Ernest Ceriani holds a bandage on the eye of a young girl whose head he has just stitched up after she was kicked by a horse, Colorado, 1948.

An intensely concerned Dr. Ernest Ceriani holds a bandage on the eye of a young girl whose head he has just stitched up after she was kicked by a horse, Colorado, 1948.

W. Eugene Smith Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A fearful 15-year-old German Luftwaffe anti-aircraft crew member weeps after being taken prisoner by American forces during the drive into Germany in 1945.

A frightened 15-year-old German Luftwaffe anti-aircraft crew member weeps after being taken prisoner by American forces during the drive into Germany in 1945.

John Florea Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A serene Marilyn Monroe on the patio outside of her Los Angeles home, 1953.

A serene Marilyn Monroe on the patio outside of her Los Angeles home, 1953.

Alfred Eisenstaedt Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Child star Margaret O'Brien makes a classic face, 1945.

Child star Margaret O’Brien, 1945

Bob Landry Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Rene Carpenter, the wife of NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter, watches his orbital flight on TV in 1962.

Rene Carpenter, the wife of NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter, watches his orbital flight on TV in 1962.

Ralph Morse Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Yorkshire hogs appear to smirk as they share the shade on a hot summer day in 1951.

Yorkshire hogs appear to smirk as they share the shade on a hot summer day in 1951.

Wallace Kirkland Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Sophia Loren, 1957.

Loomis Dean Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A kitten emerges, undaunted, from a pot of milk, 1940.

A kitten emerges, undaunted, from a pot of milk, 1940.

Nina Leen Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A less-than-happy American taxpayer at an IRA information center in New York City, 1944

A less-than-happy Amer4ican taxpayer at an IRA information center in New York City, 1944

Alfred Eisenstaedt Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Dazed U.S. Army Corporal Roy Day Jr., photographed after surviving a massacre by North Korean troops of 26 of his American fellow-prisoners. Day played dead after all of the prisoners were shot and left on a hillside in Korean, 1950.

Dazed U.S. Army Corporal Roy Day Jr., photographed after surviving a massacre by North Korean troops of 26 of his American fellow-prisoners. Day played dead after all of the prisoners were shot and left on a hillside in Korean, 1950.

Hank Walker Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Actress Jeanne Moreau weeps in a scene from the film, Five Branded Women, 1960.

Gjon Mili Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Two boys hold their breath, amazed, on their first elevator ride, 1948.

Two boys hold their breath, amazed, on their first elevator ride, 1948.

Allan Grant Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Gen. Douglas MacArthur roars orders from the bridge of the flagship USS Mount McKinley during an assault on the Inchon beachheads during the Korean War, 1950.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur roars orders from the bridge of the flagship USS Mount McKinley during an assault on the Inchon beachheads during the Korean War, 1950.

Carl Mydans Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Winston Churchill, inscrutable during an election campaign, 1951.

Winston Churchill, inscrutable during an election campaign, 1951.Winston Churchill, 1951

Alfred Eisenstaedt Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A tough sergeant bawls orders from the corner of his mouth, 1952.

A tough sergeant bawls orders from the corner of his mouth, 1952.

Cornell Capa Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A mother nurses her child, Israel, 1960.

A mother nurses her child, Israel, 1960.

Paul Schutzer Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Shirley MacLaine and her daughter Sachi Parker playfully pout, 1959.

Shirley MacLaine and her daughter Sachi Parker playfully pout, 1959.

Allan Grant Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Pediatrician Dr. Ralph Shugart confers with a worried mother of a baby that has been crying for hours, 1963. He decided to give them both a sedative.

Pediatrician Dr. Ralph Shugart confers with a worried mother of a baby that has been crying for hours, 1963. He decided to give them both a sedative.

Leonard McCombe Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A woman laughs uproariously as she undergoes a "head-tapping session," part of a sensory awareness class in an encounter group at the Esalen Institute in 1970.

A woman laughs uproariously as she undergoes a “head-tapping session,” part of a sensory awareness class in an encounter group at the Esalen Institute in 1970.

Arthur Schatz Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A jubilant Ronald Reagan celebrates victory during California's gubernatorial primary, 1966.

A jubilant Ronald Reagan celebrates victory during California’s gubernatorial primary, 1966.

John Loengard Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Comedian Ed Wynn looks horrified at the idea of killing worms in the Broadway show, Hooray for What!

Comedian Ed Wynn looks horrified at the idea of killing worms in the Broadway show, Hooray for What!

Peter Stackpole Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A North Korean soldier contemptuously sticks out his tongue at LIFE photographer Joe Scherschel on the second day of cease-fire talks during the Korean War, 1951.

A North Korean soldier contemptuously sticks out his tongue at LIFE photographer Joe Scherschel on the second day of cease-fire talks during the Korean War, 1951.

Joseph Scherschel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

More Like This

arts & entertainment

A Baseball Photographer With a Wandering Eye

arts & entertainment

The Champ, The Beatles and a Tearful Girl: The Photography of Bob Gomel

arts & entertainment

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones!

arts & entertainment

The ‘Queen of Soul’ in ’90’s Fashion

arts & entertainment

Before She Was Catwoman: Julie Newmar in LIFE

arts & entertainment

Indiana Jones: Harrison Ford’s Icon of Neverending Adventure