Actress Rita Hayworth (2R) riding bikes with her friends Minerva Griswold, Jane Hopkins and Virginia Hovey, 1940.
Actress Rita Hayworth (2R) riding bikes with her friends Minerva Griswold, Jane Hopkins and Virginia Hovey, 1940.Peter Stackpole—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Actress Rita Hayworth (2R) riding bikes with her friends Minerva Griswold, Jane Hopkins and Virginia Hovey, 1940.
Friends sitting on a fence singing along to the guitar, 1941.
Stallion trying to make friends with a barn cat, 1943.
A Scotch tommy making friends with a little Dutch girl, 1944.
Jimmy Stewart (R) bass fishing with his friend Clyde "Woodie" Woodward, upon his return from WWII, 1945.
Kindergarten children playing in Hawaii, 1945.
Lauren Bacall with friends at the Gotham Hotel, 1945.
Boy And His Dog, Oskallsa, LA, 1945.
Joan Caulfield (C) and friends enjoying the sun while a reporter interviews her, 1946.
Suzy Creech and friend, typical 10 year-old girls known as "pigtailers" playing "Red Riding Hood," 1946.
Teenagers dancing and socializing at a party, 1947.
War veteran Donald Sonius (R), an Iowa Univ. student, holding the hand of his daughter Karen with his friend and fellow veteran student Charles Smayda.
"Bebop" jazzman Dizzy Gillespie, showing his friend Benny Carter how to do a special handshake greeting, 1947.
Good friends Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift having fun on a studio lot, 1950.
Young Richard Dale (L) beginning to adjust to his new environment when he finds a new friend, Ernest, during chapel services at boy's ranch.
Friends from the Children's School of Modern Dancing, playing at the beach, 1953.
Former Confederate soldier John Salling, estimated to be 106 years old, with some friends in Scott County, 1953.
Baby chimpanzee holding a kitten at Dr. Albert Schweitzer's hospital, 1954.
Archery providing entertainment for a group of friends at a teenage party, 1956.
Two young girls playing and washing their doll clothes, 1957.
Hempstead High School seniors roaring with laughter as they look over pictures in their newly published yearbook, 1958.
Judge John D. Voelker relaxing with friends in a tavern, 1958.
Sophia Loren with her pal, LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1961.
Friends taking a walk on a typical summer day, 1962.
Actress Rita Hayworth (2R) riding bikes with her friends Minerva Griswold, Jane Hopkins and Virginia Hovey, 1940.
Peter Stackpole—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Celebrate Friendship With LIFE's Most Memorable Pictures of Pals

Looking at this survey of 25 of the best photos of BFFs from LIFE Magazine's archive of iconic 20th-century photography, one fact is immediately clear: whether you're the biggest star in the world or just an average kid, a true friendship is easy to recognize. And if there's any lesson from the pictures of headline-worthy individuals with their friends, it's that there's nothing like a day with a friend to make you let down your guard.

For Rita Hayworth in 1940, that meant packing up jelly sandwiches for a bicycle picnic. For Lauren Bacall, it meant pictured gabbing with girlfriends in her hotel suite at the Gotham in Manhattan — a meaningful location, as LIFE explained in 1945, because she and her friends had gone there as teens to gawk at celebrities. They had once followed Bette Davis into an elevator and had also been thrown out for trying to sneak into a party, which drove Bacall to announced that when she was famous, she would stay there. ("She not only did that when she and Bogart came to New York in February," the article noted, "but brought along her dog Droopy, an elderly spaniel, despite a house rule prohibiting dogs in the hotel.") And for Jimmy Stewart, it meant returning to his roots, bass fishing with a friend in for a 1945 series on the entertainer coming home to Indiana, Penn., after four years as an Army bomber pilot during World War II. Jimmy "did not catch any fish but enjoyed himself anyway," LIFE reported.

And for renowned jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Carter, recognizing their friendship was even easier, thanks to a signature handshake, LIFE noted in 1948 was often imitated by the devotees of their music. Here are the steps, in case you want to practice with any of your close pals for the U.N.-designated International Day of Friendship on Sunday:

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