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Person of the Year from the year you were born

  • Person of the Year from the year you were born
    1/ Tony Fischer // Flickr

    Person of the Year from the year you were born

    Each year, Time magazine gives one person the honor of appearing within the cover’s signature red borders as Person of the Year. Though readers typically see this as an honor or accolade, the choice doesn’t necessarily represent the person who did the most good or accomplished the biggest achievement in the past year, but rather the person who had the greatest influence on the world. Former publisher P.I. Prentice explained as much in a 1945 editorial. In other words, Time’s Person of the Year sometimes has more in common with a wanted poster than the Nobel Prize. 

    Regardless of what each Person of the Year did to become famous, re-examining each year’s choice can reveal a lot about the state of the world during that year. To gain a broad overview of the award since its inception in 1927, Stacker consulted Wikipedia’s list of every Time Person of the Year. Some years have multiple winners; in 2006, the magazine began listing runners-up for the title each year. Click through the slideshow to discover which world leaders, scientists, athletes, actors, and everyday people were awarded this notable distinction over the past 90 years.

    RELATED: Click here to see the cost of goods the year you were born.

  • 1927: Charles Lindbergh
    2/ SDASM Archives // Flickr

    1927: Charles Lindbergh

    Lived: 1902–1974
    Runners-up: N/A

    When Time magazine editors first came up with the concept of the Person of the Year, the person to choose as 1927’s standout individual was obvious: Charles Lindbergh. He flew solo across the Atlantic in 33 hours and 39 minutes

  • 1928: Walter Chrysler
    3/ Harris & Ewing // Wikimedia Commons

    1928: Walter Chrysler

    Lived: 1875–1940
    Runners-up: N/A

    This businessman was the founder and first president of the Chrysler Corporation, which had an outstanding year in 1928. That year, Chrysler brought the Plymouth to market, acquired the Dodge Brothers Company, and added more commercial cars to his line. Walter Chrysler also announced that he would build a skyscraper in Manhattan that year, now known as the Chrysler Building.

  • 1929: Owen D. Young
    4/ Ras67 // Wikimedia Commons

    1929: Owen D. Young

    Lived: 1874–1962
    Runners-up: N/A

    This American business executive boasted a long string of accomplishments—general counsel for General Electric Company, chairman of the executive committee of the Radio Company of America, and so on—but it was his work leading the committee of experts who drafted the plan for settlement of reparations after World War I that earned him this honor.

  • 1930: Mahatma Gandhi
    5/ Yann // Wikimedia Commons

    1930: Mahatma Gandhi

    Lived: 1869–1948
    Runners-up: N/A

    Twelve months after the Indian National Congress put the Indian Declaration of Independence into law, Time chose Mahatma Gandhi as the Person of the Year. At the time, he was being held in jail for protesting Britain’s salt tax.

  • 1931: Pierre Laval
    6/ JLPC // Wikimedia Commons

    1931: Pierre Laval

    Lived: 1883–1945
    Runners-up: N/A

    This optimistic French politician became the Person of the Year in 1931, just after becoming the prime minister of France. He also gained notoriety for his international work promoting the Social Insurance Act through both of the National Assembly chambers. 

  • 1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt
    7/ White House photographer. // Wikimedia Commons

    1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Lived: 1882–1945
    Runners-up: N/A

    Roosevelt became the Person of the Year for the first time in 1932—he would go on to win it twice more, in 1934 and 1941. In 1932, he was elected president for the first time after a successful run as the governor of New York. 

  • 1933: Hugh S. Johnson
    8/ Animalparty // WikimediaCommons

    1933: Hugh S. Johnson

    Lived: 1882–1942
    Runners-up: N/A

    Johnson, a businessman with plenty of corporate ties, became FDR’s leading bureaucrat as the head of the National Recovery Administration through his ties to Wall Street financier Bernard Baruch. Time said Johnson “burst like a flaming meteorite on the country” and had “almost unlimited powers.”

  • 1934: Franklin D. Roosevelt
    9/ Keystone Features // Getty Images

    1934: Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Lived: 1882–1945
    Runners-up: N/A

    Just two years into his presidency, FDR had already made an enormous impact on the United States. He had begun holding his trademark fireside chats, legalized the sale of beer and wine to effectively end Prohibition, signed the Banking Act to guarantee bank deposits, set up the National Labor Board, and established the Federal Housing Administration

  • 1935: Haile Selassie
    10/ digboston // Flickr

    1935: Haile Selassie

    Lived: 1892–1975
    Runners-up: N/A

    Haile Selassie ruled as the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He is perhaps best known for his appeal for help from the League of Nations in 1933 as Italian soldiers led by Benito Mussolini attacked his country. Selassie is credited with giving Ethiopia its first constitution and ushering Africa into the modern age.

  • 1936: Wallis Simpson
    11/ Sporti // Wikimedia Commons

    1936: Wallis Simpson

    Lived: 1896–1986
    Runners-up: N/A

    The love between American actress Wallis Warfield Simpson and Edward, the Prince of Wales, plunged Britain into a constitutional crisis. As Simpson was a divorcée, Edward could not marry her and also assume the throne. In 1936, Edward VIII became the only monarch in British history to voluntarily abdicate the throne.

  • 1937: Chiang Kai-shek
    12/ Captain Fred L. Eldridge, Photographer / Department of Defense // Wikimedia Commons

    1937: Chiang Kai-shek

    Lived: 1887–1975
    Runners-up: N/A

    China’s supreme leader became the Time Person of the Year in 1937. The early stages of the Sino-Japanese War and Chiang Kai-shek’s desire to create national unity throughout China triggered the nomination.

  • 1937: Soong Mei-ling
    13/ US White staff // Wikimedia Commons

    1937: Soong Mei-ling

    Lived: 1898–2003
    Runners-up: N/A

    In a first for Time, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek actually shared the 1937 title with his wife Soong Mei-ling. Her influence over her husband likely made her the most powerful woman in China, if not the world—at least in Time’s opinion

  • 1938: Adolf Hitler
    14/ Heinrich Hoffmann // Wikimedia Commons

    1938: Adolf Hitler

    Lived: 1889–1945
    Runners-up: N/A

    The Munich Agreement led the staff of Time magazine to name the Fuhrer Adolf Hitler as the most influential person of 1938. The fact that three world powers—Britain, France, and Italy—allowed Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland showed just how terrifyingly powerful he had become.  

  • 1939: Joseph Stalin
    15/ Segunda Guerra Mundial // Flickr

    1939: Joseph Stalin

    Lived: 1878–1953
    Runners-up: N/A

    Joseph Stalin was named Time’s Person of the Year for the first time in 1939, when he signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact with Adolf Hitler. This agreement paved the way for both Nazi and Soviet attacks on Poland, and the beginning of World War II.

  • 1940: Winston Churchill
    16/ Evening Standard // Getty Images

    1940: Winston Churchill

    Lived: 1874–1965
    Runners-up: N/A

    Like Stalin, British prime minister Winston Churchill also became Time’s Person of the Year twice: in 1940 and 1949. His courageous leadership of the British people in wartime—including his famous “we shall fight on the beaches” and “this was their finest hour” speeches—earned him a spot in the annals of history.

  • 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt
    17/ Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Lived: 1882–1945
    Runners-up: N/A

    By 1941, FDR’s influence had extended from the domestic sphere into international politics. As commander-in-chief, Roosevelt led the United States through several years of war, authorized American scientists to begin development of the atomic bomb, and laid the foundation for the United Nations. Time cited his work signing the Declaration of War and Lend Lease Act as the reason for naming him Person of the Year in 1941.

  • 1942: Joseph Stalin
    18/ Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1942: Joseph Stalin

    Lived: 1878–1953
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1942, the Soviet army successfully defended the city of Stalingrad against Nazi forces in what many historians consider the greatest battle of World War II. Time honored Stalin yet again for turning what could have been a resounding defeat into the moment when the Allies began to take control of the conflict. 

  • 1943: George Marshall
    19/ Keystone // Getty Images

    1943: George Marshall

    Lived: 1880–1959
    Runners-up: N/A

    Statesman and military officer George Marshall also took the honor twice. In 1943, Time chose him as the Person of the Year for growing the U.S. Army from 200,000 to 8 million personnel.

  • 1944: Dwight D. Eisenhower
    20/ M. McNeill // Fox Photos/Getty Images

    1944: Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Lived: 1890–1969
    Runners-up: N/A

    Even before he was elected president, Eisenhower had an impressive track record. As a four-star general, he led the Allied Forces in World War II—a feat that earned him his first Time Person of the Year nod.

  • 1945: Harry S. Truman
    21/ Alfredo Molina // Wikimedia Commons

    1945: Harry S. Truman

    Lived: 1884–1972
    Runners-up: N/A

    Plain-spoken President Harry S. Truman ascended to the highest office in the United States in April 1945 after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During his first year in office, he also made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

  • 1946: James F. Byrnes
    22/ U.S. Department of State // Flickr

    1946: James F. Byrnes

    Lived: 1879–1972
    Runners-up: N/A

    Truman’s Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, also played an important role in the decision to use an atomic weapon during World War II. Byrnes believed in “atomic diplomacy”—the idea that using the bomb could give the United States more leverage in post-war negotiations—and ultimately recommended its use. 

  • 1947: George Marshall
    23/ Keystone/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1947: George Marshall

    Lived: 1880–1959
    Runners-up: N/A

    On June 5, 1947, Marshall—then President Harry Truman’s secretary of state—gave a speech at Harvard University in which he called for U.S. assistance to help rebuild the economy of Western Europe. His idea became the basis for the aptly named Marshall Plan, which Congress passed in 1948.

  • 1948: Harry S. Truman
    24/ AFP/AFP // Getty Images

    1948: Harry S. Truman

    Lived: 1884–1972
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1948, Truman again became Time’s Person of the Year. This was another banner year for Truman: He asked Congress to prepare civil rights legislation to protect the nation’s minorities, ordered the desegregation of the Armed Forces, and won a second term.

  • 1949: Winston Churchill
    25/ Keystone // Getty Images

    1949: Winston Churchill

    Lived: 1874–1965
    Runners-up: N/A

    Winston Churchill’s second Time magazine cover wasn’t as Person of the Year, but Man of the Half-Century. His role in leading Britain—and Western Europe—through World War II earned him the well-deserved attention.

  • 1950: The American fighting-man
    26/ Madmax32 // Wikimedia Commons

    1950: The American fighting-man

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Five years after the end of World War II, Time editors chose the first group of People of the Year: the American fighting man. As the magazine noted at the time, the American soldier is special because: “He fights as he lives, a part of a vast, complicated machine—but a thinking, deciding part, not an inert cog.”

  • 1951: Mohammad Mossadegh
    27/ Bellavista // Wikimedia Comons

    1951: Mohammad Mossadegh

    Lived: 1882–1967
    Runners-up: N/A

    Iranian premier Mohammad Mossadegh had just taken office in 1951. His accomplishments include nationalizing British oil holdings and nearly deposing the shah.

  • 1952: Elizabeth II
    28/ AFP // Getty Images

    1952: Elizabeth II

    Lived: 1926–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, after the death of her father, King George VI. Though Time editors couldn’t have known it at the time, she would go on to become Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

  • 1953: Konrad Adenauer
    29/ Keystone // Getty Images

    1953: Konrad Adenauer

    Lived: 1876–1967
    Runners-up: N/A

    Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, was instrumental in the country’s recovery after World War II. Under Adenauer’s leadership, West Germany became an associate member of the Council of Europe and helped form the European Defense Community.

  • 1954: John Foster Dulles
    30/ Terry Fincher // Getty Images

    1954: John Foster Dulles

    Lived: 1888–1959
    Runners-up: N/A

    President Eisenhower appointed John Foster Dulles as secretary of state in 1953 and the pair’s close friendship helped them accomplish some extraordinary feats. Dulles is perhaps best known for his belief that peace could be maintained by containing communism.

  • 1955: Harlow Curtice
    31/ Keystone/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1955: Harlow Curtice

    Lived: 1893–1962
    Runners-up: N/A

    Harlow Curtice became the president of General Motors in 1953 and led the corporation to great success. In fact, General Motors became the first industrial corporation to make $1 billion in profits in 1955.

  • 1956: The Hungarian freedom fighter
    32/ Keystone // Getty Images

    1956: The Hungarian freedom fighter

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    After Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech publicly criticizing Stalin, thousands of Hungarians were encouraged to rise up in protest of Soviet oppression. Though the rebels won the initial battles and Hungarian communist politician Imre Nagy attempted to establish a more democratic government, the Soviet Union eventually invaded Hungary and quashed the revolution.   

     

  • 1957: Nikita Khrushchev
    33/ Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1957: Nikita Khrushchev

    Lived: 1894–1971
    Runners-up: N/A

    Speaking of Khrushchev, Time magazine chose the Soviet statesman as the Person of the Year in 1957. He denounced his predecessors, reorganized the country’s industry, formed an alliance with China, and even attempted to make peace with the United States.

  • 1958: Charles de Gaulle
    34/ Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1958: Charles de Gaulle

    Lived: 1890–1970
    Runners-up: N/A

    Years after his political and military work in World War II, Charles de Gaulle returned to public life when he was elected president of France at the end of 1958. He dedicated himself to ensuring France’s independence from other world powers and improving the economy. 

  • 1959: Dwight D. Eisenhower
    35/ uwdigitalcollections// Wikicommons

    1959: Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Lived: 1890–1969
    Runners-up: N/A

    Fifteen years after his first Person of the Year award, Eisenhower again received the honor. This time, he had already served as president of Columbia University, become president of the United States, and ended the Korean War.

  • 1960: U.S. Scientists
    36/ Douglas Grundy/Three Lions // Getty Images

    1960: U.S. Scientists

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Because science moved forward so much in 1960, Time editors felt it was only appropriate to spotlight U.S. scientists overall. As the cover story noted, “1960 was the richest of all scientific years, and the years ahead must be even more fruitful."

  • 1961: John F. Kennedy
    37/ U.S. Embassy New Delhi // Flickr

    1961: John F. Kennedy

    Lived: 1917–1963
    Runners-up: N/A

    Though President John. F Kennedy was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1961, his huge influence on American politics was already obvious by the end of the year. In his first year in office, Kennedy led the country through the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, pledged his support of the space program, and created the Temporary Peace Corps.

  • 1962: Pope John XXIII
    38/ Keystone // Getty Images

    1962: Pope John XXIII

    Lived: 1881–1963
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1962, Pope John XXIII convened a gathering of church leaders known as Vatican II to discuss the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. This attempt to bring his religion into the 20th century led to Time naming him Person of the Year.

  • 1963: Martin Luther King Jr.
    39/ National Park Service // Flickr

    1963: Martin Luther King Jr.

    Lived: 1929–1968
    Runners-up: N/A

    Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. became the first African American Person of the Year in 1963—though he had already been featured on a 1957 Time cover about the Montgomery bus boycott. His meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, arrest in Birmingham, Ala., and other notable moments in his career were all highlighted in the feature.

     

  • 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson
    40/ Cecil W. Stoughton // Wikimedia Commons

    1964: Lyndon B. Johnson

    Lived: 1908–1973
    Runners-up: N/A

    After Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson fulfilled his constitutional responsibility and assumed the presidency. He wasted no time, quickly announcing the Great Society program that used federal money to fund a myriad of social welfare programs.

  • 1965: William Westmoreland
    41/ manhhai // Flickr

    1965: William Westmoreland

    Lived: 1914–2005
    Runners-up: N/A

    Gen. William Westmoreland commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam. His decision to wage a war of attrition led to an increasing number of American as well as Vietnamese casualties—a fact that began to turn the tide of public opinion against the war.

  • 1966: The Inheritor
    42/ Keystone Features/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1966: The Inheritor

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Time chose an entire generation as its Person of the Year in 1966: “the inheritor,” or Baby Boomers. The editorial predicted that the country’s unprecedented economic stability would lead the Boomers to be more outspoken than previous generations.

  • 1967: Lyndon B. Johnson
    43/ Yoichi Okamoto // Wikimedia Commons

    1967: Lyndon B. Johnson

    Lived: 1908–1973
    Runners-up: N/A

    Four years into his presidency, Johnson again became Time’s Person of the Year in 1967. Though his decision to increase military involvement in Vietnam and his less-than-charming personality didn’t earn him very many fans, he undoubtedly left his mark on the country.

  • 1968: The Apollo 8 astronauts
    44/ File Upload Bot // Wikimedia Commons

    1968: The Apollo 8 astronauts

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., Air Force Maj. William A. Anders, and Col. Frank Borman became the first to complete a lunar flight in 1968—a feat that qualified them for Time’s annual honor.

  • 1969: The Middle Americans
    45/ Dave Winer // Flickr

    1969: The Middle Americans

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1969, Time once again chose a group as the Person of the year. “The Middle Americans” refers to the “middle-aged and middle-brow” people who make quietly respectable choices, like continuing to pray in schools despite the Supreme Court ruling against it

  • 1970: Willy Brandt
    46/ Anefo // Wikimedia Commons

    1970: Willy Brandt

    Lived: 1913–1992
    Runners-up: N/A

    German Chancellor Willy Brandt had only just been elected in 1969, but was already gaining notoriety for his attempts to bring East and West Germany together. He eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

  • 1971: Richard Nixon
    47/ Official White House photo, PD // Wikimedia Commons

    1971: Richard Nixon

    Lived: 1913–1994
    Runners-up: N/A

    In a first for Time, President Richard Nixon was named the Person of the Year twice in back-to-back years. His decision to end the Vietnam War motivated Time to choose him the first time.

  • 1972: Henry Kissinger
    48/ Central Intelligence Agency // Flickr

    1972: Henry Kissinger

    Lived: 1923–
    Runners-up: N/A

    National security advisor Henry Kissinger also played a crucial role in Nixon’s foreign policy, leading Time to name him one of 1972’s most influential people. He took a secret trip to Beijing to pave the way for the president, negotiated the Paris peace deal that ended U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, and engineered the detente with the Soviet Union.

  • 1972: Richard Nixon
    49/ U.S. Department of Agriculture

    1972: Richard Nixon

    Lived: 1913–1994
    Runners-up: N/A

    A year later, Nixon was still on the mind of Time editors. In 1972, he not only became the first U.S. president to visit communist China, but also signed a historic agreement with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to limit each nation’s strategic arms.

  • 1973: John Sirica
    50/ Indutiomarus // Wikimedia Commons

    1973: John Sirica

    Lived: 1904–1992
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1973, U.S. District Judge John Sirica ordered taped White House conversations about the Watergate break-in be released to prosecutors. Without those tapes, the American people would have never known the truth of the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon never would have resigned.

  • 1974: King Faisal
    51/ Davepape // Wikimedia Commons

    1974: King Faisal

    Lived: 1906–1975
    Runners-up: N/A

    Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal received his nod as Person of the Year for his role in rising oil prices. Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil-producing states imposed an oil embargo on countries supporting Israel in the October War, causing oil and gasoline prices to skyrocket and turning the Middle East’s most valuable asset into a weapon.

  • 1975: American women
    52/ Karl Schumacher // Wikimedia Commons

    1975: American women

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Time chose to spotlight the changing roles of American women in 1975. Profiles of Betty Ford, Billie Jean King, influential feminist Susan Brownmiller, and other notable women were featured in the issue.

  • 1976: Jimmy Carter
    53/ Hulton Archive // Getty Images

    1976: Jimmy Carter

    Lived: 1924–
    Runners-up: N/A

    President Jimmy Carter’s ambitious domestic political agenda motivated Time to choose him as the Person of the Year in 1976. He created the Department of Energy, pardoned Vietnam War draft-dodgers, streamlined federal government, and lowered federal income taxes.

     

  • 1977: Anwar Sadat
    54/ Dual Freq // Wikimedia Commons

    1977: Anwar Sadat

    Lived: 1918–1981
    Runners-up: N/A

    Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did something unprecedented in 1977: He visited Israel. No other Arab leader had ever traveled to the country. Sadat’s controversial move opened the door for peace talks between the two nations that eventually resulted in the Camp David Accords. 

  • 1978: Deng Xiaoping
    55/ pingnews.com // Flickr

    1978: Deng Xiaoping

    Lived: 1904–1997
    Runners-up: N/A

    Just a year after Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping rose to power in 1977, his mark on the country’s economy and culture was already evident. His reforms—including the “household-responsibility system” that gave farmers ownership of their crops—transformed China into an economic powerhouse. 

  • 1979: Ruhollah Khomeini
    56/ Shkuru Afshar // Wikimedia Commons

    1979: Ruhollah Khomeini

    Lived: 1902–1989
    Runners-up: N/A

    Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the revolution that overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, turning Iran into a theocracy that required a strict adherence to Islamic law from its citizens. His supporters seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1989 and took 52 Americans hostage. The 444-day saga would become known as the Iranian hostage crisis.  

  • 1980: Ronald Reagan
    57/ Smithsonian Institution // Flickr

    1980: Ronald Reagan

    Lived: 1911–2004
    Runners-up: N/A

    After a successful acting career and stint as the governor of California, Ronald Reagan became president in 1980. His desire to “reassert America's prominence in the world” through economic policies led Time to name him Person of the Year for the first time. 

  • 1981: Lech Wałęsa
    58/ Anthony Baratier // Wikimedia Commons

    1981: Lech Wałęsa

    Lived: 1943–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Polish labour leader Lech Wałęsa rose to prominence during the Polish revolution in 1981. In spite of his working class background and lack of education, Wałęsa got Poland’s first deputy premier Mieczysław Jagielski to concede that workers had the right to organize. Later, Wałęsa would become president of Poland.

     

  • 1982: The Computer
    59/ Zarex //Wikimedia Commons

    1982: The Computer

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    When Time editors named the computer the Person of the Year in 1982, little did they know just how influential that technology would become. The article described the wonders that '80s-era machines could achieve, from 3-D modeling a sketch of an airplane to answering phone calls.

  • 1983: Ronald Reagan
    60/ Sir Richardson // Wikimedia Commons

    1983: Ronald Reagan

    Lived: 1911–2004
    Runners-up: N/A

    Reagan again became the Person of the Year in 1983, though this time he shared the title with Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. His arms reduction negotiations with Soviet leaders earned him the honor.

  • 1983: Yuri Andropov
    61/ Commons:RIA Novosti // Wikimedia Commons

    1983: Yuri Andropov

    Lived: 1914–1984
    Runners-up: N/A

    During one of the most tense periods of the Cold War, Leonid Brezhnev’s successor Yuri Andropov spent months in negotiations over arms reductions with Reagan. The world watched the back and forth with bated breath.

  • 1984: Peter Ueberroth
    62/ U.S. Air Force // Wikimedia Commons

    1984: Peter Ueberroth

    Lived: 1937–
    Runners-up: N/A

    As the organizer of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Peter Ueberroth was directly responsible for the games’ success or failure. And what a success it was—the Los Angeles Times called that year’s Olympics an “unprecedented financial, athletic and aesthetic success.”

  • 1985: Deng Xiaoping
    63/ WikiPedant // Wikimedia Commons

    1985: Deng Xiaoping

    Lived: 1904–1997
    Runners-up: N/A

    Deng Xiaoping became Time’s Person of the Year once again in 1985 for his "sweeping economic reforms that have challenged Marxist orthodoxies." By 1985, the leader had implemented the famousor infamousone-child policy to control China’s exploding population. 

  • 1986: Corazon Aquino
    64/ WayKurat // Wikimedia Commons

    1986: Corazon Aquino

    Lived: 1933–2009
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1986, Corazon Aquino became the first female president of the Philippines. She triumphed over government intimidation, election fraud, and inherent sexism to assume the post. Years after her time in office, Aquino is still a popular figure in the Philippines.

  • 1987: Mikhail Gorbachev
    65/ The Official CTBTO Photostream // Flickr

    1987: Mikhail Gorbachev

    Lived: 1931–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Even before he became the president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev still exerted a huge influence over the country and the world. In particular, his policy of glasnost, or openness, gave the rest of the world hope for a more democratic and less-threatening Soviet Union.

  • 1988: The Endangered Earth
    66/ DonkeyHotey // Flickr

    1988: The Endangered Earth

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Yet another non-human subject comes in 1988, when Time named Earth the Planet of the Year. The message conveyed: Mankind better clean up its collective act before carelessness destroys the planet.

  • 1989: Mikhail Gorbachev
    67/ Veni // Flickr

    1989: Mikhail Gorbachev

    Lived: 1931–
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 1989, Time named Gorbachev the Man of the Decade. By now, his impact on the Soviet Union was even clearer. As the magazine editors wrote in 1990, “he has been breaking up an old bloc to make way for a new Europe, altering the relationship of the Soviet empire with the rest of the world and changing the nature of the empire itself.”

  • 1990: George H.W. Bush
    68/ AJ Guel // Wikimedia Commons

    1990: George H.W. Bush

    Lived: 1924–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Just one year into his first term as president, George H.W. Bush became Time’s Person of the Year. He had already dealt with the fallout from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, responded to the Tiananmen Square massacre, and signed an arms reduction agreement with Gorbachev that effectively ended the Cold War.

  • 1991: Ted Turner
    69/ Alan Light // Flickr

    1991: Ted Turner

    Lived: 1938–
    Runners-up: N/A

    When media mogul and entrepreneur Ted Turner created CNN, the first 24-hour news channel, he changed the nature of broadcasting and the news cycle forever. Time’s editors recognized the impact of CNN on media coverage around the world by naming Turner 1991’s Person of the Year.

  • 1992: Bill Clinton
    70/ ConnectMeetings // Flickr

    1992: Bill Clinton

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992, defeating President George H.W. Bush and independent Ross Perot. As Time wrote in the cover story, his “buoyancy, optimism and readiness to act” made him a promising leader.

  • 1993: The Peacemakers
    71/ Matanya // Wikimedia Commons

    1993: The Peacemakers

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    “The Peacemakers” refers to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, State President of South Africa F.W. de Klerk, President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, four world leaders who worked together to create a more peaceful world. Arafat and Rabin shook hands at the White House, a gesture that had immense symbolic meaning. Mandela and de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in South Africa.   

  • 1994: Pope John Paul II
    72/ Levan Ramishvili // Flickr

    1994: Pope John Paul II

    Lived: 1920–2005
    Runners-up: N/A

    The first non-Italian pope in 455 years, Pope John Paul II modernized the papacy and attempted to reach a greater number of Catholics internationally. 

     

  • 1995: Newt Gingrich
    73/ Gage Skidmore // Flickr

    1995: Newt Gingrich

    Lived: 1943–
    Runners-up: N/A

    When Newt Gingrich became the speaker of the house in 1994, he ended 40 years of domination by the Democratic Party in that chamber. Though he butted heads with President Bill Clinton, Gingrich was able to pass many of the priorities from his “Contract with America” into law.

  • 1996: David Ho
    74/ Noca2plus // Wikimedia Commons

    1996: David Ho

    Lived: 1952–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Dr. David Ho became Time’s Person of the Year in 1996 for his incredible contributions to AIDS research, changing both the understanding and treatment of the disease immensely, and saving countless lives. 

     

  • 1997: Andrew Grove
    75/ Intel Free Press // Flickr

    1997: Andrew Grove

    Lived: 1936–2016
    Runners-up: N/A

    The microchip won Andrew Grove, chairman and CEO of Intel, the title of Time’s Person of the Year in 1997. The magazine called him “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovative potential” of this game-changing technology in its cover story.  

  • 1998: Bill Clinton
    76/ Gage Skidmore // Flickr

    1998: Bill Clinton

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: N/A

    By 1998, Clinton was no longer the starry-eyed first-term president Time heralded as the Person of the Year in 1992. Paula Jones filed a civil suit alleging that Clinton had made sexual advances during his governorship, which eventually led to the discovery of a sexual relationship between Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. By the end of the year, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton, though the Senate did not agree. 

  • 1998: Ken Starr
    77/ LUKE FRAZZA/AFP // Getty Images

    1998: Ken Starr

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: N/A

    Clinton shared the 1998 title with Ken Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation into the president’s alleged misdeeds and released the juicy Starr Report.

  • 1999: Jeff Bezos
    78/ JD Lasica // Flickr

    1999: Jeff Bezos

    Lived: 1964–
    Runners-up: N/A

    If Time thought Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was influential in 1999, what must it think of him now? Bezos’ vision for an online bookstore paved the way for the explosion of e-commerce, and changed the shopping landscape forever. 

     

  • 2000: George W. Bush
    79/ The U.S. National Archives // Flickr

    2000: George W. Bush

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: N/A

    George W. Bush won the presidency in a close election fraught with controversy; hello, hanging chads and eventual recount. Even before he began his presidency, Time said the fact that Bush ran on a traditionally democratic platform was extremely notable. 

  • 2001: Rudy Giuliani
    80/ Gage Skidmore // Flickr

    2001: Rudy Giuliani

    Lived: 1944–
    Runners-up: N/A

    New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was named Time’s Person of the Year in 2001, not for any political maneuvering or citywide initiatives, but for shepherding New York City through the trauma of the September 11 terrorist attacks. His courage, compassion, and strength in the face of pure evil was said to be extraordinary.

  • 2002: The Whistleblowers
    81/ frederic.jacob // Flickr

    2002: The Whistleblowers

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Three women who pointed out wrongdoing—Sherron Watkins at Enron, Coleen Rowley at the FBI, and Cynthia Cooper at WorldCom—became the Persons of the Year in 2002. By choosing them, Time reinforced the importance of speaking up.

  • 2003: The American soldier
    82/ The U.S. Army // Wikimedia Commons

    2003: The American soldier

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    In 2003, there was no doubt that the Iraq war was the most important story in the news. Instead of choosing President Bush again or opting for Saddam Hussein, Time decided to recognize the United States forces who were on the ground, fighting the war.

  • 2004: George W. Bush
    83/ The U.S. National Archive // Flickr

    2004: George W. Bush

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: N/A

    President Bush became the Time Person of the Year a second time in 2004, just after he won his second term. In the first four years of his presidency, Bush sent U.S. troops to invade Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, signed the Patriot Act, and withdrew America from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  

  • 2005: The Good Samaritans
    84/ Kjetil Ree // Wikimedia Commons

    2005: The Good Samaritans

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: N/A

    Time gave Bono, and Bill and Melinda Gates a new nickname for its 2005 Person of the Year issue: the good Samaritans. The cover story noted that if these rock stars and billionaires with nothing to lose can use huge chunks of their fortune to do some good in the world, “no one really has a good excuse anymore for just staying on the sidelines and watching.” 

     

  • 2006: You
    85/ Josh Hallett // Flickr

    2006: You

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hu Jintao, Kim Jong-il, James Baker

    Cheesy as the concept might sound, naming “you” the Time Person of the Year wasn’t a cop-out. The magazine intended to honor the new phenomenon of user-generated content on sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, but readers ultimately panned the idea.

  • 2007: Vladimir Putin
    86/ Global Panorama // Flickr

    2007: Vladimir Putin

    Lived: 1952–
    Runners-up: Al Gore, J.K. Rowling, Hu Jintao, David Petraeus

    Russian President Vladimir Putin became the Time Person of the Year in 2007, stating that he had brought his country back to “the table of world power.” Whether or not the former KGB official had achieved this remarkable feat through honorable actions is another matter. 

  • 2008: Barack Obama
    87/ Obama White House // Flickr

    2008: Barack Obama

    Lived: 1961–
    Runners-up: Henry Paulson, Nicolas Sarkozy, Sarah Palin, Zhang Yimou

    Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, becoming the first African American president of the United States. It was a historic and hard-fought election—Obama had to overcome racial prejudice, his lack of experience, and fierce competition from more established candidates to reach the White House.

  • 2009: Ben Bernanke
    88/ Medill DC // Flickr

    2009: Ben Bernanke

    Lived: 1953–
    Runners-up: Stanley McChrystal, The Chinese Worker, Nancy Pelosi, Usain Bolt

    Though the 2008 economic crisis was one of the most severe in recent American history, it could have been much worse—something that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke knows firsthand. Bernanke instituted seemingly extreme financial measures to avert a worldwide economic catastrophe.

  • 2010: Mark Zuckerberg
    89/ JD Lasica // Flickr

    2010: Mark Zuckerberg

    Lived: 1984–
    Runners-up: The Tea Party, Hamid Karzai, Julian Assange, The Chilean Miners

    It seems appropriate that Mark Zuckerberg became Time’s Person of the Year in the same year that Facebook attracted its 550-millionth member. It’s hard to overstate the impact of Facebook on the entire world. Just take this statistic, for instance: 1 in every 12 people on Earth had a Facebook account in 2010. 

     

  • 2011: The Protester
    90/ syriana2011 // Flickr

    2011: The Protester

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: William McRaven, Ai Weiwei, Paul Ryan, Kate Middleton

    Time couldn’t choose just one person in 2011. Instead, the magazine named the entire group of protestors who sparked the Arab Spring and reclaimed their power as dissenting citizens. 

  • 2012: Barack Obama
    91/ Nick Knupffer // Flickr

    2012: Barack Obama

    Lived: 1961–
    Runners-up: Marissa Mayer, Mohamed Morsi, Undocumented Americans, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Tim Cook, The Higgs boson, Fabiola Gianotti

    Four years later, President Barack Obama was re-elected by the American people and chosen again by Time as its Person of the Year. Though many critics thought he might not be able to tie up 2012 as easily as he did 2008, Obama proved them all wrong and cemented his place in the history books.

  • 2013: Pope Francis
    92/ Benhur Arcayan // Wikimedia Commons

    2013: Pope Francis

    Lived: 1936–
    Runners-up: Bashar Assad, Jeff Bezos, Ted Cruz, Miley Cyrus, Barack Obama, Hassan Rouhani, Kathleen Sebelius, Edward Snowden, Edith Windsor

    Pope Francis, or “the people’s pope,” took the title in 2013 for his radical approach to leading the Roman Catholic church. The Argentina-born pope came from humble beginnings—past jobs included a janitor, literature teacher, and nightclub bouncer—and harnesses his understanding of the average person to connect with his flock. Unlike some of his predecessors, Francis cares more about handing out alms, correcting injustices, and responding to those who write to him than participating in Vatican bureaucracy.

  • 2014: Ebola fighters
    93/ CDC Global // Flickr

    2014: Ebola fighters

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: The Ferguson protesters, Vladimir Putin, Taylor Swift, Jack Ma, Tim Cook, Masoud Barzani, Roger Goodell

    In 2014, the Ebola outbreak became an epidemic, spreading from rural African towns to crowded slums to international borders. With no cure in sight, Ebola poses a huge risk for the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who treat its victims—and still, the Ebola fighters treated them. Time honored these extraordinary men and women as its 2014 Persons of the Year.

  • 2015: Angela Merkel
    94/ Philipp // Flickr

    2015: Angela Merkel

    Lived: 1954–
    Runners-up: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Black Lives Matter activists, Caitlyn Jenner, Travis Kalanick, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Donald Trump

    As the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel is not just the leader of the German people, but also the de facto leader of the European Union. In 2015—Merkel’s 10th year as chancellor—she steered the region through a currency crisis and opened Germany’s borders to millions of asylum-seekers. A banner year, indeed.

     

  • 2016: Donald Trump
    95/ Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

    2016: Donald Trump

    Lived: 1946–
    Runners-up: Simone Biles, Hillary Clinton, CRISPR scientists, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Nigel Farage, The Flint Whistleblowers, Beyoncé Knowles, Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, Mark Zuckerberg

    Whether you love him or hate him, one can’t deny the impact that Donald Trump had on the United Statesand indeed, the worldin 2016. Few expected he would go all the way and win the presidency, so his victory came like a thunderclap on Election Night. Despite his unconventional campaign, he still managed to win the presidency.

  • 2017: The Silence Breakers
    96/ Wolfmann // Wikimedia Commons

    2017: The Silence Breakers

    Lived: N/A
    Runners-up: Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Robert Mueller, Kim Jong-un, Colin Kaepernick, Patty Jenkins

    What would come to be known as the #MeToo movement began in 2017. Ashley Judd went on the record in a New York Times article about alleged sexual harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and suddenly, more and more women were coming forward to share their stories. And not just about Weinstein—though there were many sordid tales about his allegedly heinous behavior—but also about their bosses, colleagues, friends, and plenty of other famous men. Time recognized their bravery by naming “the silence breakers” the Persons of the Year in 2017. 

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