Ever wonder who the hottest celebrity was the year you were born? We have too! To honor the past, Wonderwall.com dug through the archives to discover who the most famous star was each year from 1940 to 2008. Often, there were too many to choose from, so we hand-picked our favorites through the years. Keep reading to discover which celebrity was at his or her peak the year you arrived…
1940: Clark Gable
Just nine years earlier in 1931, Clark Gable established himself as one of the greatest actors in Hollywood. It didn't hurt that in 1939, the handsome star appeared as Rhett Butler alongside Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," which earned him an Academy Award nomination and was widely considered one of his best performances.
1941: Barbara Stanwyck
Widely considered one of the greatest actresses of Old Hollywood, Barbara Stanwyck was in high demand in 1941. She starred in four major motion pictures that year, three of which earned Academy Award nominations — including one for her for Best Actress in "Ball of Fire."
1942: Bing Crosby
Not only was Bing Crosby regarded as one of the most handsome screen actors and singers of his time (ask your grandma if you don't believe us!), but he was also one of the most popular stars around for nearly two decades. In '42, he starred in numerous films like "Holiday Inn" and "Road to Morocco" and recorded the classic song "White Christmas," which still plays on the radio every holiday season.
1943: Bob Hope
In addition to traveling the world to boost moral for military members, Bob Hope was an accomplished actor, comedian and entertainer who'd already received one honorary Academy Award in 1940 for his "unselfish services to the motion picture industry." As a noted humanitarian, this well-loved funnyman divided his time between starring in major films and performing with the USO to give much needed relief to troops stationed abroad.
1944: Judy Garland
Riding the wave of fame from her Academy Award-winning performance in "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939, Judy Garland starred in "Meet Me in St. Louis" in '44, which became the second most successful film of her short, vibrant career. During filming, Judy also met (and later married) the director, Vincente Minnelli, who would father her first child, entertainer Liza Minnelli.
1945: Humphrey Bogart
After 15 years in the industry, Humphrey Bogart was already a legend in Hollywood. In 1944, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the iconic film "Casablanca" and was considered one of the most in-demand stars of the time. In '45, he not only starred in the popular film "Conflict" but married the love of his life, actress Lauren Bacall.
1946: Lana Turner
Originally called a "sweater girl" in Hollywood, thanks to her beauty and ample bustline, Lana Turner proved she had more to offer on screen than a curvy figure. In 1946, this head-turning star appeared in the sexually charged thriller "The Postman Always Rings Twice," cementing herself as one of the top actresses in Tinseltown.
1947: Betty Grable
Once the highest paid actor in the country, Betty Grable worked her way from humble beginnings to become one of the most sought-after film stars of her time. In 1947, she appeared in both "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim" and "Mother Wore Tights" and was one of the first Hollywood stars to put an insurance policy on her most famous asset: her long, lovely legs.
1948: Ingrid Bergman
Dubbed "Sweden's illustrious gift to Hollywood," Ingrid Bergman was a powerful, versatile actress who became an instant favorite among fans and directors. In 1948, she starred in "Arch of Triumph" and "Joan of Arc." The latter performance earned her a fourth Academy Award nomination. Fun fact: Ingrid is tied with Meryl Streep as the second most Oscar-awarded actress of all time.
1949: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
From 1933 to 1949, dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in 10 films together including "The Gay Divorcee" and "Top Hat." After taking a decade-long break from their partnership to pursue solo careers, the pair reunited in 1949 to star in their final film together, the highly anticipated "The Barkleys of Broadway," which was widely considered one of their best joint performances.
1950: Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall was a beautiful, talented actress and the wife of famed film noir star Humphrey Bogart. She was known for appearing in several well-received films with her husband, but made a departure in 1950 by appearing in two critically acclaimed dramas, "Young Man with a Horn" and "Bright Leaf" opposite other leading men. Her reputation as a serious actress only grew and kept her in high demand in Hollywood.
1951: Lucille Ball
Already an accomplished film star, Lucille Ball ventured onto the small screen alongside her husband, fellow actor Desi Arnaz, in the acclaimed comedy series "I Love Lucy," which started airing in 1951. Thanks to her unique style of slapstick humor, Lucille was dubbed the "Queen of Comedy." Reruns of her work still inspire laughter today.
1952: Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly was a silver screen heartthrob. After a decade in Hollywood, the dancing icon starred in one of his most memorable films ever, 1952's "Singin' in the Rain," alongside Debbie Reynolds. That same year, he went on to appear in "The Devil Makes Three" and was given an honorary Academy Award for his on-screen versatility and choreography talents.
1953: Audrey Hepburn
From her first big-screen role in 1951, Audrey Hepburn stole the hearts of fans and proved herself as a leading lady in Hollywood. In '53, she starred in "Roman Holiday," a performance that would win her a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, making her one of the first stars to ever win multiple awards for a single performance. Fun fact: Despite persistent rumors, Audrey is not related to famed actress Katharine Hepburn.
1954: Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe arrived in Hollywood in 1947, but it wasn't until 1950 that fans began paying attention to this now-legendary film star. In 1954, Marilyn appeared in both "River of No Return" and "There's No Business Like Show Business," but it was her work in "The Seven Year Itch" in September of that year that captured one of the most famous moments in film history — this iconic subway vent skirt scene.
1955: James Dean
James Dean's bad-boy good looks and growing popularity as a movie star was only heightened after his starring role in "Rebel Without a Cause" in 1955. Sadly, the same year, after a short tenure in Hollywood, this promising actor died in a high-speed car crash at the young age of 24, cementing his status as an icon of the silver screen.
1956: Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley was already the king of rock'n'roll, but in 1956, he became a major motion picture star thanks to his big screen debut in "Love Me Tender" (which was named after his hit song). Although Elvis wasn't the top-billed star of the film, it opened the door to his acting career and future starring roles.
1957: Doris Day
Doris Day was both an accomplished singer and actress and in 1957, her talent paid off in a big way as "Whatever Will Be" (the song she performed in the film "The Man Who Knew Too Much") won an Academy Award. She went on to star in the movie "The Pajama Game" the same year and recorded six songs for the film's soundtrack.
1958: Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier had commanded the screen since his first major film performance in 1947. However, it was his title role in "The Defiant Ones" alongside Tony Curtis in 1958 that earned him his first Academy Award nomination the following year. Not only was Sidney the first Bahamian-American actor to receive a nomination, but he was the first African-American man to be nominated for Best Actor.
1959: Tony Curtis
Although Tony Curtis had made his debut in Hollywood a decade earlier, his career didn't truly heat up until 1959. For his work in "The Defiant Ones," this sexy star was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Bambi Award and a Photoplay Award (which he won), launching him to another level of fame.
1960: The Rat Pack
"The Rat Pack" — a group of celebrities that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. — got its name from famed actress Lauren Bacall, who joked they looked as tight as a "pack of rats." The name stuck, as did this notorious fivesome's reputation for seducing beautiful women and starring in big-budget films.
1961: Natalie Wood
Many remember Natalie Wood as the precocious kid from 1947's "Miracle on 34th Street," but she proved herself to be an indomitable actress long after her days as a child star had passed. In 1961, she appeared in two films, "West Side Story" and "Splendor in the Grass," with the latter resulting in her second Academy Award nomination and the former launching her to cult-fame status.
1962: Marilyn Monroe
The only celebrity to appear twice on our list is none other than iconic beauty Marilyn Monroe. In 1962, the star sang her breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy, fueling gossip claiming she'd had an affair with the president. In August that same year, the star — who was just 36 — was found dead in her home from an overdose of barbiturates, which catapulted her name into the headlines once again and ensured her legacy as a Hollywood idol.
1963: Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor had been a member of the Hollywood elite for more than 20 years when she starred in one of her most epic films, 1963's "Cleopatra." The movie did not garner Liz any awards or nominations (though the film itself won four Oscars), but was still a headline-maker of the first order: It was the top-grossing movie of the year; it had the distinction of being the most expensive film ever made at that point; and it earned Liz an unheard-of $1 million, more than any leading lady had ever been paid before.
1964: The Beatles
1964 was a groundbreaking year for The Beatles: It marked their transformation from a popular British band to a worldwide phenomenon. After landing on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in January and appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February, The Beatles were thrust into a frenzied spotlight that led them to become one of the most prolific and acclaimed bands of the century.
1965: Julie Andrews
In 1965, Julie Andrews was on top of the world. Not only did she win a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her performance in "Mary Poppins," but she also starred in "The Sound of Music," which is widely considered to be one of her finest performances. Her work in the instant classic would garner her another Academy Award nomination and her second Golden Globe.
1966: Clint Eastwood
Before Clint Eastwood starred in the 1966 spaghetti western "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," he was relatively unknown in Hollywood. He'd appeared in a handful of films, mostly uncredited, but his role as Blondie catapulted him to superstardom while also creating a demand for more films in a genre that had once been largely ignored by critics.
1967: Jimi Hendrix
In 1967, Jimi Hendrix expanded his epic musical reach outside the U.K., where his career first took off, and released one of the greatest albums of all time, "Are You Experienced," in his native America, where it reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 200. That same year, Jimi set fire to his guitar while on stage, searing his legacy into popular culture for eternity.
1968: Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand had already made a name for herself on Broadway as an actress and singer, so her first starring role — in the Hollywood film "Funny Face" in 1968 — only broadened her appeal. Not only was the movie a hit, but it led Babs to win her first Academy Award and Golden Globe.
1969: Paul Newman
He'd been acting since 1949, but Paul Newman's star rose higher in 1969 when he was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award for producing the 1968 film "Rachel, Rachel" (the movie also marked his directorial debut). He'd also starred in two films that same year — "Winning" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" — but won even more fans when he showed the world he had more to offer the silver screen than a killer performance.
1970: John Wayne
John Wayne was a major star in Hollywood for more than 40 years by 1970, but his fame was renewed when he was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Actor. His performance in "True Grit" proved that sometimes, Hollywood leading men only get better with age.
1971: Sonny and Cher
After creating numerous hit singles together, Sonny Bono and Cher launched "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" — a wildly popular variety show that featured funny skits and numerous famous guest stars like Tony Curtis and Ronald Reagan — in 1971. The same year, Cher released a solo album, "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves," which marked her entrance into the musical world separate from Sonny.
1972: Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando had been a member of Hollywood's elite since 1950, but it was his starring role in the 1972 film "The Godfather" that marked a new era for this silver screen legend. He won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his work as Don Vito Corleone, the patriarch of a New York crime family.
1973: Robert Redford
Although Robert Redford had been a regular face in Hollywood for nearly 13 years, it was his starring role in the 1973 film "The Sting" alongside Paul Newman that earned this prolific actor his very first Academy Award nomination. That same year, the heartthrob also starred alongside Barbra Streisand in "The Way We Were."
1974: Stevie Wonder
Twelve years after releasing his first studio album, Stevie Wonder hit No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and topped the R&B chart with "Fulfillingness' First Finale" — his 17th studio album. The masterpiece went on to win Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal and Best Male Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance.
1975: Robert De Niro
Although Robert De Niro had been acting since the late '60s, his career didn't truly pick up until the next decade. In 1975, the year after his intense performance as a young Vito Corleone in "The Godfather: Part II," Robert won his first Academy Award, launching his career as one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood.
1976: Farrah Fawcett
Beautiful Farrah Fawcett was already a recognized TV actress in 1976 and was starring on "Harry O" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" when she was cast as Jill Munroe on "Charlie's Angels." The television series launched Farrah into superstardom and led to her first Golden Globe nomination.
1977: Carrie Fisher
It was only her second big screen movie role, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher appeared as Princess Leia in "Star Wars," which turned out to be the biggest, most iconic character of her lifetime. Although she wasn't nominated for any awards for her work in the sci-fi project, the film won six Oscars and helped Carrie define herself as an actress outside the shadows of her famous parents, entertainer Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.
1978: Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta
It's impossible to mention 1978 without talking about "Grease" and the film's beloved main characters, Sandy and Danny, played by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. The pair lit up the silver screen in a dance-heavy musical that captivated audiences worldwide. Both stars were nominated for Golden Globes for their work in the movie.
1979: Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep can thank 1979 for being the year she transformed from a newcomer in Hollywood to a legendary star. Not only did she receive her first Academy Award nomination for her work in "The Deer Hunter" the year before, but she also starred in three major motion pictures — "Manhattan," "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" and "Kramer vs. Kramer" (pictured) in 1979 — the latter of which earned her an Oscar in 1980. Fun fact: Meryl is the second most awarded actress in Hollywood, tied with Ingrid Bergman. Katharine Hepburn holds the No. 1 spot.
The band that transformed music into an experience through the airwaves was none other than Queen — fronted by Freddie Mercury — who in 1980 released eighth studio album "The Game," their only album to reach No. 1 in the States. One of their most popular songs from the album was "Another One Bites the Dust," which also reached No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the U.K. To date, it remains their best-selling single.
1981: Princess Diana
In 1981, Lady Diana Spencer transformed into Princess Diana of Wales when she wed Prince Charles of England on live television in front of 750 million viewers. The shy new princess was known for her elegant fashion sense and charming good looks, making her an icon of style, but it was her generous, warm heart that ultimately endeared her to so many.
1982: Michael Jackson
Though he'd been a pop sensation since he was a child, it was Michael Jackson's 1982 album "Thriller" that launched him to superstardom and cemented his legacy as the King of Pop. Not only was "Thriller" loaded with catchy hits like "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," but it became the best-selling album of all time — going multi-platinum a whopping 32 times over and ultimately winning Michael a Grammy for Album of the Year.
1983: Eddie Murphy
Just a year before, Eddie Murphy made the leap from "Saturday Night Live" to the big screen with his debut film, "48 Hours," co-starring Nick Nolte. The movie was a success, and in 1983, it led to the comedian's first Golden Globe nomination. That same year, he went on to star in "Trading Places" with fellow "SNL" alum Dan Aykroyd.
In 1984, Prince released his fourth studio album, "Purple Rain" — which was the soundtrack to the film of the same name. The album was instantly recognized as a musical masterpiece. It included hits like "When Doves Cry" and "I Would Die 4 U." It spent 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and earned Prince two Grammys.
1985: The Brat Pack
The '80s are synonymous with coming-of-age movies. A group of eight young and famous Hollywood stars who often acted in those films — Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson (all pictured), Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy and Ally Sheedy — became known collectively as "The Brat Pack." The octet were infamous in 1985 for hitting the party scene and making big box-office hits like "St. Elmo's Fire" and "The Breakfast Club."
Since bursting onto the music scene in 1983, Madonna had been making a name for herself as one of the most powerful performers in the industry. In 1986, she released her third studio album, "True Blue," which was her first to reach No. 1 across the globe and earned Madonna her second Grammy nomination for the song "Papa Don't Preach."
1987: Patrick Swayze
Although "Dirty Dancing" was Patrick Swayze's seventh major motion picture, it was the one that launched his career to superstardom, turning him into one of the most in-demand actors and, not surprisingly, a major sex symbol. A quadruple threat, this handsome star didn't just dance and act in the film — he also wrote and sang "She's Like the Wind" for the movie's soundtrack.
1988: Bette Midler
1988 was one of the biggest years for singer and actress Bette Midler. She appeared in three major motion pictures, including "Beaches" alongside Barbara Hershey. Not only was Bette a star, but she sang every song on the film's soundtrack, including her only No. 1 hit, "Wind Beneath My Wings."
1989: New Kids on the Block
Thanks to their second studio album, "Hanging Tough," reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1989, the popular boy band New Kids on the Block — which included Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight and Jonathan Knight — became one of the hottest music groups of the decade with a frenzied following of devoted teenage girls all around the world.
1990: Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts went from supporting actress to headliner in 1990 when she was cast as the lead in "Pretty Woman" — an iconic role that would make her one of the most popular actresses in America in a generation. Not only did her performance earn her a second Academy Award nomination (the first was for her work in the previous year's "Steel Magnolias"), but it led her to become one of the highest paid actresses of the 1990s.
1991: Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins' career in Hollywood spans all the way back to the 1960s. While he was by no means a new star in 1991, his star did shine brighter after the release of "The Silence of the Lambs," in which he played the terrifying serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The role made him a household name and earned him his first Academy Award.
1992: Whitney Houston
Her amazing vocal talent had already propelled Whitney Houston into the leagues of music's greatest performers, but in 1992, Whitney flexed her acting muscles when she debuted on the big screen in "The Bodyguard" alongside Kevin Costner. Not only did she headline the film, but she also sang on its soundtrack, which featured lead track "I Will Always Love You." The soundtrack album earned the Grammy for Album of the Year and won several Billboard Music Awards.
1993: Denzel Washington
Since the late '80s, Denzel Washington's career was on an upward trajectory, thanks to his incredible talent and choice roles. In 1993, he starred in three powerful films, including "Philadelphia" and "The Pelican Brief," and received his third Academy Award nomination for his performance as "Malcolm X" the previous year.
1994: Keanu Reeves
Five years after one of his first major film roles in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," Keanu Reeves had proven himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. In 1994, he starred in the film "Speed" alongside Sandra Bullock. Not only did it highlight Keanu's sex appeal, but it showed his potential as an action star.
1995: Tom Hanks
In truth, Tom Hanks was one of the most famous actors of the '80s as well as the '90s, but it was his powerful performance in the controversial film "Philadelphia" in 1993, followed by his stellar work in "Forrest Gump" in 1994, that made him one of the hottest actors of the decade. After taking home his second Best Actor Academy Award in 1995, he starred in "Apollo 13" and voiced the beloved character Woody in the animated film "Toy Story."
1996: Will Smith
No longer the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Will Smith had firmly ensconced himself in Hollywood as an in-demand actor and rapper. In 1996, he starred in the action-adventure film "Independence Day" and began filming one of his more famous roles as Agent J in "Men in Black."
1997: Leonardo DiCaprio
When people think back on Leonardo DiCaprio's long career, they often begin with his famous role as Jack in the Academy Award-winning film "Titanic" alongside actress Kate Winslet. The movie was one of the biggest of the young star's life (along with "Romeo + Juliet" the year before), earning Leo his second Golden Globe nomination and making him a clear fan favorite of the late '90s.
1998: Destiny's Child
In 1998, booties across America were shaking to the music from the debut album of one of the hottest new girl groups, Destiny's Child. Its members included Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams (the last incarnation) as well as, at various points, LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett and Farrah Franklin. Their songs "No, No, No" and "Without Me" were some of their first big hits, keeping the album on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for 26 consecutive weeks.
1999: Britney Spears
In January of 1999, Britney Spears reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single "…Baby One More Time" off the album of the same name. The album went platinum 14 times, making Britney one of the top musical performers ever at just 17 years old.
2000: Angelina Jolie
While Angelina Jolie was already known in Hollywood for her jaw-dropping beauty, in 2000, her acting talent was recognized when she took home her first Academy Award for her work in "Girl, Interrupted" alongside Winona Ryder. She went on to star in the film "Gone in Sixty Seconds" with Nicolas Cage that same year.
2001: Russell Crowe
Following the release of his acclaimed drama "Gladiator" in 2000, Russell Crowe became one of Hollywood's most sought-after leading men. The following year, he won a best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius. The New Zealand-born actor, who now calls Australia home, went on to star in 2001's "A Beautiful Mind" (for which he scored another best actor Oscar nod), 2003's "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" and 2005's "Cinderella Man."
2002: Justin Timberlake
Though he was already wildly famous for being a part of boy band *NSYNC, 2002 marked the year that Justin Timberlake launched his solo career. The decision to leave behind his boy band days proved to be a good one: His 2002 debut solo album, "Justified" — which included hit songs "Cry Me a River" and "Rock Your Body" — earned him four Grammy nominations and the award for best pop vocal album.
2003: Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston has been a Hollywood star since the '90s, but she made an even bigger name for herself in 2003. Though she was best known for playing Rachel Green on "Friends," in 2003 — the same year she won a Golden Globe for her portrayal — she achieved major success as a movie star too. That year, she starred in the comedy "Bruce Almighty" alongside Jim Carrey — a role that delivered what's considered to be Jen's biggest commercial success in film. In the years to follow, Jennifer starred in films like "Along Came Polly," "Rumor Has It," "The Break-Up" and "Marley & Me."
2004: Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx dazzled as the titular character in the 2004 biopic "Ray," which chronicled 30 years of historic musician Ray Charles' life. Not only did he win Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics' Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance the following year, but he also took home a coveted Academy Award for best actor. Jamie made history for his award season wins as he became only the second actor to ever win all five major lead actor awards for a single performance. The icing on top? He was also nominated for best supporting actor Oscar the same year for his work in "Collateral."
2005: Lindsay Lohan
By 2005, Lindsay Lohan had established herself as Young Hollywood's most famous actress. While she was best known for her starring roles in Disney teen comedies like "Freaky Friday" and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," her leading performance in Tina Fey's 2004 teen comedy "Mean Girls" is what skyrocketed her to even greater fame. In 2005, the A-list actress was riding high and appeared in the Disney comedy "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and released her second studio album, "A Little More Personal (Raw)." Personal, legal and addiction issues later followed, stalling her acting career.
Beyonce has been a music sensation for many years, but she reached new heights of fame in 2006. On Sept. 1, 2006, she released her second studio album as a solo artist, "B'Day," which featured songs like "Déjà Vu," "Beautiful Liar" and the fan favorite "Irreplaceable." The album earned Bey a plethora of prestigious accolades including the award for best contemporary R&B album at the 2007 Grammys. "B'Day" went on to be certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
Though she got attention for her first two studio albums, Rihanna's third, "Good Girl Gone Bad" — which she released in 2007 — is arguably what launched her to even greater stardom as a recording artist and leading player in the music industry. In addition to receiving seven Grammy nominations, the album's first single, "Umbrella," earned the Barbados-born singer her first Grammy Award for best rap/sung collaboration.
2008: Taylor Swift
While she achieved even greater success in the years that followed, 2008 marked the release of Taylor Swift's second studio album, "Fearless," which earned praise from critics and country music fans. At just 20, Taylor made history when she became the youngest artist to ever win the coveted album of the year award at the Grammys. "Fearless" also went on to win big at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards. It's also reportedly one of the bestselling albums of the 21st century. As she's since gone on to prove, this was just the start of a prolific music career.