With a history spanning 40 years, People Magazine is the largest magazine publication in the United States. From growing popularity thanks to widespread distribution and an extensive fan base of dedicated readers, People highlights celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, and personal interest articles featuring everyday people. Once a year, the hit magazine runs a special issue of the most beautiful people in the world, including the sexiest person alive. Like the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, this edition has proven to be the most popular issue as people love to look at beautiful people.
People Magazine’s most beautiful people list originated in the early 1990s and has since become the focal point of many discussions and, yes, even arguments. Celebrities secretly (and not so secretly) wish to see their names on the list while everyday people like us only dream of the achievement. While many dream of being named to the list once, the truth is that the list has been around long enough that some stars have been featured multiple times as timeless figures of beauty and grace. That’s right, not once but twice!
Who are the best looking people of the last 20 years according to People Magazine? Here’s a list of familiar faces of both new and old. Who made the list and who didn’t? Let’s start with an actress whose career was launched as a superhero or villain, all of which depended on her mood that day.
Michelle Pfeiffer is an actress who had a very strong stretch of roles in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The first time that many people saw Pfeiffer was when she starred as the troubled girlfriend of Tony Montana in the 1983 film “Scarface.” While many people became familiar with her in that role, comic book fans finally became introduced to the beautiful leading lady when she played Catwoman in “Batman Returns” almost a decade later.
Michelle Pfeiffer could be seen in a lot of ads since she was among the most attractive people in the entire world. When People Magazine started their list of most beautiful people in 1990, they tabbed Pfeiffer as the first person to receive the award. Not many people were upset with that decision, and she even ended up winning the title again nine years later in 1999. Pfeiffer is taking it easier these days, which is to be expected after such a heavy workload much of her career.
Julia Roberts seems ageless as though she has outran the ranks of time for the past 20 years or so, making her even more beautiful at 47 years old. Roberts was only 23 years old when she received her first big role in the film “Pretty Woman,” which ended up being a global smash hit. Ever since, Roberts has been the go-to A-list actress for big time movies, leading to an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 2000 film, “Erin Brockovich.”
Living up to the name of “Pretty Woman,” People Magazine has selected Roberts as their favorite of all-time on the list. No other person has appeared more than twice as the most beautiful person in the world, with the exception of Roberts who has received the title four times. What is even more impressive is the span of time those four awards have come, as they were in 1991, 2000, 2005 and 2010. These gaps in time prove Roberts is aging gracefully and elegantly.
Jodie Foster is now 52 years old, but has been in the acting scene ever since she was three years old. With modest first roles, Foster played an innocent child in commercials, but that would change drastically in the 1976 film “Taxi Driver.” In the film, Foster played a 14-year old prostitute across from Robert DeNiro in a role that ended up earning her an Oscar nomination. Although she did not win the Oscar that year, she did end up winning two of the awards for the films “The Accused” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Foster had an outstanding year in 1992 as she received her award from “Lambs” in addition to being named the most beautiful person from People Magazine. Foster has not won the award since, but she seems to be doing alright for herself through the years. After all, she has had a career that has lasted over four decades, which is pretty impressive in Hollywood.
Cindy Crawford has done some acting in her time but, let’s be honest, we all know her as one of the most popular models of all-time. During the 1990’s, it was hard to look at an advertisement in a magazine or on television without seeing Cindy Crawford. Crawford was even named the highest earning model in the entire world in the mid-1990’s and, with about a million posters of Crawford hanging up on the walls of young men’s rooms everywhere, few could argue with her beauty and fame.
There has obviously been no shortage of people who have told Crawford that she is beautiful, and People Magazine is just one of the many, naming her to the title in 1993. In addition to that recognition, Crawford was in the top five for hottest people in the 1990’s by VH1 and Men’s Health named her one of the hottest women of all-time. We all wish we could have that many people tell us we look that beautiful.
Meg Ryan was not a household name in the 1980s but, thankfully, Rob Reiner and the producers of “When Harry Met Sally” quickly discovered her talent and quirky charm, casting her as the female lead of Sally in the film. The role of Sally made Ryan a star, launching her into a career of endless romantic comedies in the years to follow. Some of the bigger hits that Ryan was involved in were alongside Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
“Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” came out in 1993 and 1998, respectively, and it was in-between those hits that Meg Ryan was named as the Most Beautiful Person by People Magazine. Ryan was recognized in 1994 and stuck around the A-list for about 15 more years. Between 2009 and 2015, Ryan was out of the limelight and in a brief retirement but has since returned to the industry in the director’s chair.
Courteney Cox was a relatively unknown name for a long time, but many people do not realize just how many acting credits she had to her name before hitting it big. For almost a decade, Cox was playing bit roles and even appeared in the “Dancing in the Dark” video by Bruce Springsteen. 1994 was the breakout year for Cox, who played a big role in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and was then given the role of Monica on “Friends.”
Things looked up for Cox immediately afterward, and she was named as the most beautiful person by People Magazine a year later in 1995. “Friends” was on NBC for a decade before ending, and Cox went on to star in “Cougar Town” for just over 100 episodes before the series came to a close in 2015. We are not sure what the next step is for the 50 year old Cox, but she has definitely not had many misses in the last 20 years.
At one point, Mel Gibson was the most bankable star in all of Hollywood. The first big role for Gibson was not even supposed to be that big, but ended up being a cult hit, which was the “Mad Max” series. Gibson would parlay that into a career that had a lot of range, from comedy to drama and even historical films. Gibson won two different Academy Awards in 1995 for the film “Braveheart,” one for Best Picture and another for Best Director.
The next year after winning the awards, Gibson won another one as People Magazine named him the Most Beautiful Person of 1996. Gibson ended the 1990’s with a high note, but the start of the next century got off to a rocky one with a string of unsuccessful movies and a ton of controversy that included the authorities and some very lewd comments. It has certainly been an up and down ride for Gibson, a lot of it being his own doing.
Tom Cruise is a lot like Mel Gibson in the fact that some of his most recent movies have been far from successes; in addition, a lot of non-movie controversy has given people a different opinion of him. Although Cruise has not had any racist or sexists rants that have been caught on tape, he has had plenty of awkward and odd moments that have forever stained his reputation. Before that, though, Tom Cruise was the most successful actor in Hollywood with a career that started over 30 years ago.
The first time Cruise landed a leading role was in “Risky Business,” which ended up becoming an underdog hit. Perhaps the 1990’s were the golden age for Cruise as he had a string of smash hits with “A Few Good Men,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Jerry Maguire” and more. During that stretch, Tom Cruise was selected as the most beautiful person by People Magazine in 1997, back when we had simpler times.
We now switch gears from two actors who have had their reputations take a big hit over the last few years, to someone who seemingly becomes more popular year after year. Get ready to feel old when you hear how old Leonardo DiCaprio is…he’s 40. DiCaprio started on television and then landed his first big role in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” which netted him an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, that would not be the last time that Leo went home without an award, as he still does not have any on his shelf.
DiCaprio has been an A-list actor for seemingly forever, and is riding a wave of successful movies that is now eclipsing a quarter century. Even though there aren’t any Oscars on his mantle, DiCaprio can at least take solace in the fact that he was recognized by People Magazine as the most beautiful person in 1998. Either way, he probably does not lose much sleep thinking about his lack of awards thanks to his massive success.
Catherine Zeta-Jones was a stage performer from the country of Wales during the early era of her career, but wanted to get onto larger screens with a bigger audience. Zeta-Jones moved to Hollywood to become a star, which proved to be a very good idea for her. After first struggling to land major roles, Zeta-Jones got her breakthrough role alongside Antonio Banderas in “The Mask of Zorro” in 1998. The next few years were massively successful for Catherine Zeta Jones, which even included an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “Chicago” in 2002.
The year before, Catherine Zeta-Jones already received the award from People Magazine as 2001’s Most Beautiful Person, which was the year after she married actor Michael Douglas. It is hard to imagine a better three year span than getting married, being recognized as the most attractive person in the world and winning an Oscar, but that is precisely what Zeta-Jones did and the rest is history.
Nicole Kidman came from the country of Australia with aspirations of being a famous Hollywood actress. Kidman did just that as she was thrust into the spotlight, starting with the 1989 film, “Dead Calm.” Just a year later, Kidman played a big role in the film “Days of Thunder” as the love interest of Tom Cruise. The two would end up getting married that same year and were married for just over a decade.
Kidman has three Academy Award nominations to her name, including a win for Best Actress in the 2001 film, “Moulin Rouge!” It seems to be a recurring theme that people are named to People Magazine’s list of most beautiful just before or after receiving an Academy Award, as she won in 2002. Perhaps one of the awards inspires or helps the other, but there is of course no scientific data to back it up. Kidman is still staying busy in films, and even has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A lot of people know that Halle Berry is a successful actress, but Berry first gained mainstream media attention as a beauty pageant contestant, during which time she came in second place in the 1986 Miss USA contest. Berry got her first big role in acting four years later in “Boomerang” and spent nearly a decade playing modest roles that typically cast her as the love interest of a leading male actor.
That all changed in 2001 when Berry was selected to play the lead in the film “Monster’s Ball.” The role netted her the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the only non-Caucasian woman to win the award in its history, a title she holds to this day. Once again, Berry was named to the list of most beautiful people by People Magazine in 2003. Berry has not won any Academy Awards since then, but she is still staying very busy in film.
Jennifer Aniston had a very odd start to her acting career. The first film that Aniston was credited for was “Leprechaun,” the b-list horror movie that quietly gained a cult following. Before starring in “Leprechaun,” Aniston played the role of Jeannie in the TV version of “Ferris Bueller,” which only lasted 13 episodes. Aniston finally landed a lasting role as Rachel on “Friends” from 1994 to 2004, leading to stardom as the most successful person from the show.
Aniston has appeared in a ton of huge films since her role on “Friends,” and is one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood to this day. The same year that “Friends” ended, Aniston was named as the most beautiful person by People, which was really just another high point in the 20 year span of incredible success that Aniston has known. As for Lisa Kudrow, things have not been quite as exciting since 2004, leaving fans to remember her quirky music in comparison to Aniston’s beauty and love-troubled relationships.
Angelina Jolie was pegged for success at a very young age as the daughter of famed actor Jon Voight. It was with her father that Jolie made her film debut in the 1982 film “Lookin’ to Get Out.” Since then, it has been nothing but smooth sailing for Jolie, who is now the highest paid actress in all of Hollywood. Jolie has won many awards over her long career that include an Academy Award for Best Actress in the 1999 film “Girl, Interrupted.”
After a strange marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie is now married to someone who is also considered among the most attractive men in the world, Brad Pitt. Jolie was named to the top of the list herself on the female side in 2006 by People Magazine, confirming something that a lot of us already knew: her undeniable and remarkably exquisite beauty. Jolie and Pitt now have six children together, all of whom we can assume will be famous in Hollywood one day.
Drew Barrymore also comes from a successful family, and even one that is more affluent than Jolie’s family. The Barrymore family has been Hollywood royalty since the early 20th century, and Drew is the latest in the very successful line. Drew started in bit roles on TV as a toddler and became a household name during “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” Now, at 40 years old, Barrymore has a large catalog of hit movies to her name.
Barrymore became very involved in romantic comedies during the late 1990’s and 2000’s, appearing in movies co-starring leading men such as Adam Sandler in “50 First Dates” and Jimmy Fallon in “Fever Pitch.” Around the same time, Barrymore was named to People Magazine’s illustrious award in 2007. The follow up to the award was not as impressive as some of the others on the list, as the first film afterward was “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” Oh well, who are we to criticize? At least she got paid for it.
Kate Hudson got her start in acting in 1998 at the age of 18 years old and then struggled to land a big role for three years. It was not until 2001 when Hudson landed a major part in “Almost Famous” that a lot of people took notice. Hudson received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the movie, which led to an endless offering of future roles, even if she was sort of typecast. Hudson became the queen of romantic comedies during the 2000’s with roles in “You, Me and Dupree” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”
2008 was an up and down year for Kate, as she was nominated twice for Worst Actress by the Golden Raspberry Academy for “Fool’s Gold” and “My Best Friend’s Girl.” To help ease the pain of the nominations, Hudson was given the most beautiful person title the same year. As of late, we do not see Hudson in a lot of romantic comedies, but she is still doing quite well for herself.
Back in 1987, the Fox Network was just getting its start and needed a show that could be the anchor for their original programming. To fill the need, “Married…with Children” was launched featuring Christina Applegate playing the part of the dumb (but beautiful) daughter, Kelly, on the show. Whenever appearing on screen, Applegate was catcalled by the mostly male audience, but at least it opened her up to a lot of new roles.
Applegate has won an Emmy for her talent throughout her career and made a great comeback to comedy thanks to “Anchorman” and the sequel that came almost 10 years later. Applegate won the award for most beautiful in 2009, which was given to her for not only her outer appearance, but for her inner strength as well. Applegate was in the midst of fighting breast cancer, and has since served as an inspiration to those who are also battling the disease.
Jennifer Lopez always wanted to be an actress, but her parents were far from being fond of the idea. Lopez landed her first role in the film “My Little Girl” and did not return to film for almost a decade after that. Instead, Lopez went into dancing for a while and gained notoriety as one of the Fly Girls on the show, “In Living Color.” After that, Lopez was given the lead role in “Selena” and has not looked back since, with a career that includes widespread success in film and music.
Lopez was already in her 40’s when she was named most beautiful by People Magazine in 2011 and is still recording smash hits and starring in movies to this day. The best paying role that Lopez has these days, though, is as a judge on the reality show, “American Idol.” Lopez is making more than $17 million per year for appearing on the show, which makes us wonder how her mom feels about her career now.
Beyonce went from state to state to compete in singing and dancing shows when she was very young and we are guessing that she won a majority of them because of her beauty and talent. Beyonce was picked to be in Destiny’s Child, a group of three women that would take the music world by storm. Beyonce was the crown jewel of the group who launched a successful solo career when the group took a short break in 2003. Since then, Beyonce has become one of the biggest female acts of all-time and has five Grammy Awards to her name.
Even though Beyonce is worth well over $400 million on her own thanks to a successful career in singing and acting, she is married to Jay-Z, an incredibly rich rapper, who is the other half of the biggest power couple in music. Jay-Z probably will never see the list for most beautiful, but Beyonce sure did when she was named to the top spot in 2012. The other members of Destiny’s Child weren’t as lucky by any means.
Gwyneth Paltrow had already been trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood for five years before she was cast in the film “Se7en.” Just a couple of years later, Paltrow was given the lead role in “Shakespeare in Love,” which netted her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1998. Paltrow has appeared in countless other films since then, with roles in comedies, romantic movies, dramas and even superhero action films.
Paltrow might not have won the award if she looked like her character in “Shallow Hal,” but she finally won the prized most beautiful award in 2013 after years of patiently waiting. The award came during her span of playing the same leading lady and “Iron Man” based character, Pepper Potts for two straight films in her career. Unfortunately, the follow up to receiving the award was “Mortdecai,” which is on its way to being the biggest movie flop of 2015.