In 1990, the editors of People magazine decided to compile a list of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, based on feedback from staff members, readers, casting directors and model agents. The list grew from 50 to 100 in 2005 and, in 2018, the magazine changed the title from “Most Beautiful” to the “Beautiful Issue.”
Here’s a look back at the women who graced the earliest covers of People’s “Most Beautiful” issues — at the time of their covers and today.
Michelle Pfeiffer — Then
People’s inaugural “Most Beautiful” woman was Michelle Pfeiffer. She graced the cover for the first time in 1990 at age 32, the same year she won almost every Best Actress award for her performance as Susie Diamond in “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” still considered to be one of the best of her career.
At the time, Pfeiffer was dating fellow actor Fisher Stevens, her co-star in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night.”
Michelle Pfeiffer — Now
Now 61, Pfeiffer continues to star in hit movies (upcoming projects include the dark comedy “French Exit” based on Patrick deWitt’s acclaimed novel and psychological thriller, “Turn of Mind”) but she recently added another string to her bow. In April 2019, she released a line of five unisex fragrances called “Henry Rose” — named after her two children with TV writer/producer husband David E. Kelley. Claudia Rose was adopted in March 1993, and John Henry was born in August 1994.
Julia Roberts — Then
Julia Roberts graced the “Most Beautiful” cover in 1991 at age 23, the year after she headlined the romantic comedy “Pretty Woman,” which grossed $464 million worldwide. To date, Roberts has received the “Most Beautiful” title more than anyone else; she also appeared on the cover in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Weeks after she appeared on her first cover, Roberts broke up with actor Kiefer Sutherland — three days before they were due to marry on June 11, 1991.
Julia Roberts — Now
In November 2018, Roberts made her television series debut in Amazon Video’s “Homecoming,” on which she also served as executive producer through her production company, Red Om Films. Roberts, 51, has been married to cameraman Daniel Moder since 2002 and they have three children: twins (son and daughter) Phinnaeus and Hazel, born in 2004, and a son Henry, born in 2007.
Jodie Foster — Then
Yale University graduate Jodie Foster appeared on the cover in 1992, the same year she won her second Best Actress Oscar for “Silence of the Lambs” (her first was for “The Accused” in 1988). Also in 1992, Foster made her debut as a film director with “Little Man Tate” and founded her own production company, Egg Pictures. The company’s first production was the 1994 release “Nell,” starring Foster in the title role, which earned her a fourth Oscar nomination.
Jodie Foster — Now
Over the last decade, Foster has concentrated on directing, letting acting take a backseat. However, during an interview with Variety to promote her documentary “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache,” the 56-year-old revealed her long-term goal to return to acting later in life.
“I’m pretty focused on the behind-the-scenes now,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll make more movies as a director and sometimes more as an actor. I would say this is a more director-heavy moment, but I’m for sure going to be acting a lot when I’m 70 and 80. I’m really excited about that, actually.”
In April 2014, mom-of-two Foster married actor and photographer Alexandra Hedison.
Cindy Crawford — Then
One of the original supermodels, Cindy Crawford was 27 years old and married to actor Richard Gere when she appeared on the 1993 “Most Beautiful” cover. Of course, it wasn’t her first cover shoot; during her modeling career, she graced the cover of numerous magazines, including Vogue, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Crawford, who hosted MTV’s “House of Style” from 1989 to 1995, also appeared in the Pepsi Super Bowl commercial aired during Super Bowl XXVI.
Cindy Crawford — Now
Although Crawford quit full-time modeling in 2000, she still appears occasionally on the runway and in magazines. She recently called out social media trolls who shame her for modeling at age 53 and is vocal about celebrating beauty — and nudity — at all ages.
“Is there an age where being nude isn’t beautiful?” she said at a panel hosted by WWD about her anti-aging skincare line Meaningful Beauty. “It’s just a different kind of beauty.”
Crawford married businessman Rande Gerber in 1998 and they have two children, son Presley (born 1999) and daughter Kaia (born 2001), who are both models.
Meg Ryan — Then
Meg Ryan was 32, married to fellow actor Dennis Quaid, a mom to 2-year-old son Jack and riding high on the success of romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle” when she was named People’s “Most Beautiful” in 1994. Another huge box office hit for Ryan came later that year: Luis Mandoki’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which secured her first Screen Actors Guild Award. Ryan also won Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award in 1994.
Meg Ryan — Now
In recent years, Ryan hasn’t replicated the box office success of her early Hollywood career, focusing instead on independent films like “The Land of Women” (2007) and “Serious Moonlight” (2009). She made her directorial debut with “Ithaca” in 2015, which she starred in alongside Tom Hanks, Sam Shepherd and her son, Jack. In August 2018, Ryan received the Leopard Club Award at the 71st Locarno Festival as an icon of romantic comedy, being praised for her “unique ability to combine beauty with irony.”
Courteney Cox — Then
In 1995, People’s “Most Beautiful” was 30-year-old Courteney Cox, who was one year into the defining (and most famous) role of her career: Monica Gellar on “Friends.” The smash-hit sitcom ran for 10 years and made Cox (along with her co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow) the highest-paid TV actress of all time; she received $1 million per episode for the final two seasons. At the time of her People cover, Cox was in a relationship with fellow actor Michael Keaton.
Courteney Cox — Now
Aside from “Friends,” Cox’s biggest on-screen successes were the film series “Scream” (1996-2000) and the sitcom “Cougar Town” (2009-2015), which she also directed and executive produced. Her Facebook series “9 Months with Courteney Cox” aired in early 2019.
Shortly after her divorce from David Arquette was finalized in 2013, Cox started dating Snow Patrol band member Johnny McDaid. In 2018, Cox said of their relationship, “We’re not [officially] married. I’m married in my heart.” On June 15, 2019, Cox celebrated her 55th birthday with her “Friends” co-stars Aniston and Kudrow.
Catherine Zeta-Jones — Then
At 31, Catherine Zeta-Jones was a new mom (to son Dylan, then 9 months old) when she graced the cover of People’s “Most Beautiful” issue in 2001. She was also at the peak of her acting career, having starred in the comedy-drama “High Fidelity” and ensemble thriller “Traffic” in 2000. Zeta-Jones was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Helena Ayala, the pregnant wife of a drug lord in “Traffic”; the ensemble (including Benicio del Toro, Don Cheadle, Dennis Quaid and Zeta-Jones’ husband Michael Douglas) won the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast.
Catherine Zeta-Jones — Now
Zeta-Jones and Douglas are still married. In addition to their son Dylan, they also have a daughter, Carys, born in 2003. But they’ve been through their fair share of ups and downs. In 2010, Douglas was diagnosed with tongue cancer. In 2011, and again in 2013, Zeta-Jones sought treatment for bipolar II disorder. The couple subsequently decided to separate. However, they reconciled in 2014, with Douglas telling Ellen DeGeneres that they were “stronger than ever.”
In 2017, Zeta-Jones launched her own line of home decoration products called Casa Zeta-Jones.
Nicole Kidman — Then
In 2002, 34-year-old Nicole Kidman — one year after her divorce from Tom Cruise — had just won a Golden Globe Award (and been nominated for an Oscar) for her role in 2001’s “Moulin Rouge.” Her career success continued with 2002’s “The Hours,” in which she was almost unrecognizable thanks to the prosthetics she wore to portray Virginia Woolf. The role won her numerous awards, including her first BAFTA, her third Golden Globe and her first Academy Award for Best Actress.
Nicole Kidman — Now
In 2017, Kidman returned to television for the drama series “Big Little Lies,” on which she serves as producer alongside co-star Reese Witherspoon. For her role as Celeste Wright, Kidman won two Primetime Emmy Awards (for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and Outstanding Limited Series), as well as a Golden Globe Critics Choice Award and a SAG Award. In 2018, Kidman starred in two dramas, “Destroyer” and “Boy Erased,” and returned to the small screen in June 2019 for the second season of “Big Little Lies.”
Kidman and her husband of 13 years, singer-songwriter Keith Urban, have two daughters, Sunday Rose (born in 2008) and Faith Margaret (born via gestational surrogate in 2010).
Halle Berry — Then
When 36-year-old Halle Berry was named People’s “Most Beautiful” in 2003, she had just made history as the first-ever African American actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress (for her role as Leticia Musgrove, the troubled wife of an executed murderer, in “Monster’s Ball”). Later that year, Berry reprised her role as mutant superhero Storm in the X-Men sequel “X2,” appeared in the psychological thriller “Gothika” opposite Robert Downey Jr., and was named No. 1 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll.
Halle Berry — Now
Berry, now 52, currently serves as executive producer of the TV series “Boomerang,” based on the 1992 film in which she starred with Eddie Murphy. Berry also stars as an assassin named Sofia in the latest John Wick installment, “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” alongside Keanu Reeves.
Berry, who has a daughter with French Canadian model Gabriel Aubry (Nahla Ariela Aubry, born in 2008) and a son with actor Olivier Martinez (Maceo Robert Martinez, born in 2013), is currently single; she divorced Martinez in 2016 after three years of marriage.
Jennifer Aniston — Then
A big year for Jennifer Aniston, 2004 saw the end of “Friends,” and the end of her decade-long role as Rachel Green, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2002 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. It was also her first time on People’s “Most Beautiful” cover (she would have the honor again in 2016). In 2004, Aniston starred in the romantic comedy “Along Came Polly” opposite Ben Stiller, which eventually made $172 million globally. She was still married to Brad Pitt at the time, although they would divorce the following year.
Jennifer Aniston — Now
Aniston’s first project for a streaming service came in December 2018: the Netflix musical comedy “Dumplin’.” As well as executive producing, the 50-year-old Aniston starred as former beauty queen Rosie Dickson. June 2019 saw the release of another Netflix project — the film “Murder Mystery” alongside Adam Sandler. In late 2019, Aniston will star in the Apple TV+ drama “The Morning Show” alongside Reece Witherspoon, her first major TV role since “Friends” ended.
Currently single, Aniston was married to fellow actor Justin Theroux from 2015 to 2017.
Angelina Jolie — Then
In 2005, People’s “Most Beautiful” list doubled from 50 to 100. That year, it was Angelina Jolie’s turn to claim the cover; the magazine also hailed Jolie (who was pregnant with daughter Shiloh), her then-partner Brad Pitt and children Zahara and Maddox as the World’s Most Beautiful Family. Jolie and Pitt met on the set of the 2005 release “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” which was the seventh-highest grossing movie of the year. Jolie had previously won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1999 drama “Girl, Interrupted.”
Angelina Jolie — Now
In recent years, Jolie has favored humanitarian work over movie projects — in 2012, after more than a decade as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, she was promoted to the rank of Special Envoy to High Commissioner António Guterres. However, the 2017 Netflix drama “First They Killed My Father,” which Jolie co-wrote and directed, was nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award. In October 2019, Jolie will star in the fantasy adventure film “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the sequel to 2014’s “Maleficent.”
Jolie and Pitt divorced in 2019 and share custody of their six children.
Drew Barrymore — Then
In 2007, shortly after her split from longtime boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti, actor Drew Barrymore was ranked “Most Beautiful” by People. The 32-year-old star of the romantic comedy “Music and Lyrics” joined Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Rihanna on the makeup-free photo shoot for the issue. By this stage, Barrymore had several hit movies under her belt, including “Never Been Kissed” (1999), “Charlie’s Angels” (2000) “and 50 First Dates” (2004). In 2007, Barrymore also became a CoverGirl Cosmetics’ model and spokeswoman.
Drew Barrymore — Now
In February 2017, Netflix premiered the dark comedy series “Santa Clarita Diet,” starring Barrymore as a suburban wife and mom who craves human flesh. She also served as an executive producer on the show, which returned for a second season in 2018 and a third in 2019 before it was abruptly canceled. Barrymore has also released a women’s fashion line in conjunction with Amazon.com called Dear Drew and has a successful cosmetics line called Flower.
In 2016, after four years of marriage, Barrymore divorced art consultant Will Kopelman, with whom she has two daughters: Olive, born 2012, and Frankie, born 2014.
Kate Hudson — Then
In 2008, at age 29, Kate Hudson was named “Most Beautiful.” At the time, she was a single mom to 4-year-old Ryder, her son with ex-husband Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes. That year, Hudson starred in two successful romantic comedies: “Fool’s Gold” alongside Matthew McConaughey and “My Best Friend’s Girl” with Jason Biggs. However, neither matched the success of her breakthrough role in the 2000 release “Almost Famous,” which earned her the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Kate Hudson — Now
Now a mom of three (she also has a son, Bingham Hawn Bellamy, with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, born 2011, and a daughter, Rani Rose Hudson Fujikawa, born 2018, with current partner Danny Fujikawa), Hudson focuses more on her fitness apparel line Fabletics than she does on acting. In 2018, she finalized a multi-year partnership deal with New York & Company, Inc. and also collaborated with her mother Goldie Hawn on the Fabletics x MindUP capsule collection, with 50 percent of net proceeds going to Hawn’s MindUP educational program for kids.
Christina Applegate — Then
In 2008, actor Christina Applegate, best known for her role in the long-running TV series “Married… with Children,” confirmed media reports that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She later announced that she was cancer-free after a double mastectomy. The following year, at age 37, she was named People’s “Most Beautiful.” Applegate was newly single after divorcing actor Johnathon Schaech but, in 2009, she started dating musician Martyn LeNoble, and the couple married in 2013.
Inspired by her own experience of breast cancer, Applegate founded Right Action for Women in 2009. The charitable foundation is dedicated to breast cancer screening for women, focusing on the type of MRI scan that saved Applegate’s life.
Christina Applegate — Now
Still married to LeNoble, with whom she has a daughter, Sadie Grace, born 2011, Applegate made her big TV comeback in May 2019 via the Netflix dark comedy series “Dead to Me,” in which she plays widow Jen Harding alongside Linda Cardellini. Following positive reviews (many critics have described it as Applegate’s career best), a second season was announced in June 2019. Applegate is also an executive producer on the show.
Jennifer Lopez — Then
Jennifer Lopez’s “Most Beautiful” cover reveal in 2011 took the star by surprise — she was judging “American Idol” at the time. As well as her TV judging role, the 41-year-old mom of two (twins Emme and Max, whom she had with then-husband Marc Anthony, were born in 2008) had also recently made a music comeback with her album “Love?” Its first single, “On the Floor,” reached No. 1 on charts around the world, was one of the bestselling singles of 2011 and gave Lopez her highest commercial chart hit since her 2002 release “Jenny from the Block.”
Jennifer Lopez — Now
In 2018, Lopez was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. In February 2019, the singer/actor/entrepreneur announced her first concert tour in nearly seven years to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday; the “It’s My Party: The Live Celebration” tour kicked off in June 2019. In March, Lopez launched a sunglasses range with the brand Quay Australia with her fiancé Alex Rodriguez, and the following month she released the single “Medicine,” featuring French Montana.