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Person of the Year from the year you were born

  • Person of the Year from the year you were born

    Each year, Time magazine gives one person or a group of people 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. A couple of recipients who fall under this category include Adolf Hitler (1938) and Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942).

    Sometimes the Person of the Year isn't a person at all. In 1982 and 1988, inanimate objects earned the recognition with The Computer and The Endangered Earth winning for each respective year. Similarly, a dozen times the magazine has featured groups of unnamed people, including 2018's The Guardians and 2003's The American soldier. Women have often been overlooked for the cover—since its inception in 1927 only five women have graced the cover alone as individual recipients.

    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.

    You may also like: The cost of goods the year you were born

  • 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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

    - 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.