The newsworthy faces that have graced the cover of TIME magazine ever since the first issue hit newsstands 90 years ago, on Mar. 3, 1923, have included not a few from the world of arts and entertainment. And though many of those celebrities (Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, George Clooney…) are well known for their looks, a star on the cover of TIME must be more than just a pretty face.
The slides that follow contain only a relatively small sampling of the celebrities who have appeared on the cover of TIME—celebrities from the worlds of music, visual art, literature, architecture, theater, cinema and television—but they are windows into the cultural changes of more than a century. Each slide contains a selection of the text of the original cover article from within the issue, as well as a link for subscribers to read the rest of the story.
These stars’ stories tell of the beginnings of modernism. They tell of the technological advances that led to the rise of movies and then television and then the internet. They tell of the wars through which each lived and the social movements they championed, like civil rights and feminism. They tell of the birth of jazz, rock and roll, disco, rap. And yes, they tell of beauty too, thus demonstrating how society’s ideals have changed and what we can learn from the face of a woman like Sophia Loren or a young girl like Brooke Shields. They don’t just inspire us to look; they inspire us to look deeper.
From Shirley Temple to Shirley MacLaine, Katharine Hepburn to Kathryn Bigelow, Bing Crosby to Bill Cosby, John Wayne to Elton John—here are the celebrities who have defined the last 90 years.
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