The Most Famous Stars the Year You Were Born: 1940-1990

Throughout the years, Hollywood has evolved significantly. Other than advancements in movie-making magic, some of the biggest stars have come and gone. From Hollywood’s Golden Age starlets like Elizabeth Taylor to more modern talents like Meryl Streep, new stars enter Hollywood constantly, and others leave the industry.

Audrey Hepburn / Marilyn Monroe / Princess Diana / Michael Jackson.
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Despite the decades-long careers some of these stars had, eventually it all comes to an end – either they retire or eventually die, making room for a new generation of Hollywood superstars. Even timeless beauties like Marilyn Monroe, who will stay forever young in our minds, would have just turned 95! Do you ever wonder who was the hottest celebrity the year you were born? There are so many stars to choose from, so we picked the most popular of each year.

Check out which celebrity reached their peak in your birth year.

1940: Clark Gable

Back in 1940, Clarke Gable was the talk of Tinseltown. Just nine years before, in 1931, the star had already established himself as one of the greatest actors in Hollywood. Not only did he have the talent, but he also had the good looks to go with it.

A portrait of Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind.
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In 1939, the handsome actor starred as Rhett Butler alongside Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. That movie earned Gable an Academy Award nomination and is still considered was of the best performances of his career.

1941: Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck is known as one of the greatest actresses of Old Hollywood. The talented starlet was in high demand in 1941. It was a great year for the actress as she starred in four major motion pictures that year – three of which landed her Academy Award nominations.

A studio portrait of Barbara Stanwyck.
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One of those nominations was for best actress in Ball of Fire. Needless to say, the girl was on top of the world. She had an impressive career, and Barbara Stanwyck is still considered an amazing talent all these years later.

1942: Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby was not only regarded as one of the most handsome actors and singers of his time (seriously, ask your grandma if you don’t believe me), but he was also one of the most popular stars on the scene for almost two decades. So, yeah, this guy was a pretty big deal.

Bing Crosby poses for a portrait.
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In 1942, Crosby starred in several films like Holiday Inn and Road to Morocco and also recorded the classic song White Christmas, which continues to play on the radio every holiday season! That’s right; if you’re not familiar with his movies, this is the man responsible for your jolly holiday spirit.

1943: Bob Hope

Bob Hope was a man of many accomplishments. Other than traveling the world to help boost morale for the military troops, this guy was also an accomplished and super famous actor, comedian, and entertainer. He truly had a heart of gold.

A portrait of Bob Hope next to an NBC microphone.
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In 1940, he won an honorary Academy Award for his “unselfish services to the motion picture industry.” As a known humanitarian, this beloved funnyman split his time between starring in major Hollywood movies and performing with USI to give troops stationed abroad much-needed relief.

1944: Judy Garland

Judy Garland rose to fame thanks to her Academy Award-winning performance in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. The starlet will always be remembered for her role as Dorothy, but Garland also starred in 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis, which ended up being the second most successful film in her short yet vibrant career.

A studio portrait of Judy Garland.
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During filming, Judy also met director Vincente Minnelli, whom she later married. Minnelli is also the father of Judy’s first child, Liza Minnelli. The Wizard of Oz fame really launched Garland’s career, but behind the scenes, things were far less magical and glamorous. If you don’t know, young Garland was drugged and abused during the filming of the Wizard of Oz.

1945: Humphrey Bogart

After spending 15 years in the industry, Humphrey Bogart was already considered a Hollywood legend. In 1944, the star was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the iconic film Casablanca and was regarded as one of the most in-demand stars of the time.

Humphrey Bogart poses for a portrait.
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1945 was a wonderful year for the incredible actor. Not only did he star in the successful film Conflict, but he walked down the aisle with the love of his life, actress Lauren Becall. I guess some people can have it all.

1946: Lana Turner

Thanks to her beautiful face and voluptuous body, Lana Turner was originally a Hollywood “sweater girl.” However, it didn’t take long for the rising starlet to prove that she was more than just a pretty face and had more to offer on screen than an hourglass figure.

A promotional portrait of Lana Turner.
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Turner’s acting chops were eventually noticed, and in 1946, the head-turning actress appeared in the sexually charged thriller The Postman Always Rings Twice, cementing herself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.

1947: Betty Grable

At one point, Betty Grable was the highest-paid actress in America, but she wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. This girl worked her way up from humble beginnings to become one of the most sought-after movie stars of her time.

Betty Grable models a bathing suit in a pinup photo.
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In 1947, Grable appeared in both The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and Mother Wore Tights. She was one of the first stars in Hollywood to put an insurance policy on her body parts – her most profitable asset: those long, lovely legs.

1948: Ingrid Bergman

Dubbed “Sweden’s illustrious gift to Hollywood,” Ingrid Bergman was a commanding and versatile actress who never failed to capture the attention of the audience, making her an instant favorite with directors as well. 1948 was a big year for the actress who starred in Arch of Triumph and Joan of Arc.

A portrait of Ingrid Bergman.
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The second performance earned the starlet her fourth Academy Award nomination. Fun fact: Ingrid Bergman, Meryl Streep, and Frances McDormand are tied as the second most Oscar-awarded actresses of all time. Katharine Hepburn stole the number one spot with four awards.

1949: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

From 1933 to 1949, dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in 10 movies together, including The Gay Divorcee and Top Hat. After taking a ten-year break from their partnership in order to pursue solo careers, the duo reunited in 1949 for their last film together.

A picture of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
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The highly anticipated The Barkleys of Broadway came out on May 4, 1949, and it was a huge success. The movie has since been considered one of their best joint performances of their careers (if not THE best).

1950: Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall was gorgeous, talented, rich, and also happened to be the wife of famed film noir star Humphrey Bogart. She was known for appearing in several successful films opposite her famous husband, but she came into her own by 1950.

A studio portrait of Lauren Bacall.
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That year, she appeared in two critically acclaimed dramas: Young Man With a Horn and Bright Leaf. From that point on, her reputation as a serious and talented actress increased, and she remained a high-demand Hollywood actress.

1951: Lucille Ball

Already an accomplished movie star, Lucille Ball made her way to the small screen alongside her husband, Desi Arnaz, in the beloved and acclaimed comedy series I Love Lucy, which premiered on October 15, 1951. Let’s just say this was her year.

A studio portrait of Lucille Ball.
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The black and white comedy was a huge success and made the famous actress even more popular. Thanks to her amazing sense of humor, Lucille Ball was dubbed the Queen of Comedy. Her work on the show was absolutely incredible, and reruns continue to make people laugh today.

1952: Gene Kelly

Throughout his career, Gene Kelly was a silver screen heartthrob. After working in Hollywood for a decade, the dancing icon starred in one of his most memorable movies ever in 1952: Singin’ in the Rain alongside Debbie Reynolds, and it was a huge success.

A photo of Gene Kelly.
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If you haven’t seen the film, you’ve definitely heard of the classic masterpiece. That same year, the actor went on to star in The Devil Makes Three and even received an honorary Academy Award for his on-screen versatility and choreography talents. Very impressive.

1953: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn captured the hearts of America when she broke onto the scene in 1951 and continued to prove herself as the perfect leading lady in Hollywood. In 1943, she starred in Roman Holiday which launched the actress into A-list status (if she wasn’t there already).

Audrey Hepburn on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
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Her performance was so brilliant that she earned a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, making her one of the first stars to win multiple awards for a single role. Fun fact: contrary to popular belief, Audrey Hepburn is not related to famed actress Katherine Hepburn.

1954: Marilyn Monroe

Here is a starlet that needs no introduction. Marilyn Monroe arrived on the Hollywood scene in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1950 when people really started to pay attention to the now-legendary starlet. She won over fans with her platinum blonde hair, pouty red lips, and voluptuous hourglass figure.

A portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
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However, Monroe proved she was more than just a pretty face with a curvy body. In 1954, the model turned actress appeared in River of No Return and There’s No Business Like Show Business, but it was her role in The Seven Year Itch that captured one of the most famous moments of cinematic history – remember that iconic subway vent skirt scene?

1955: James Dean

James Dean was a promising young star known for his good looks, incredible talent, and sometimes reckless behavior. He became a movie star and household name in 1955 with his starring role in Rebel Without a Cause. He was on top of the world.

A studio portrait of James Dean.
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Dean was making his way up the Hollywood ropes until it all came to a tragic end the following year. The actor lost his life in a high-speed car accident when he was just 24 years. This celebrity death really shocked the world since he was so young and was expected to have a decades-long career.

1956: Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was already dubbed the king of rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t become a motion picture star until 1956. The singer made his big-screen debut that year in Love Me Tender (which was named after his hit song).

A posed studio portrait of Elvis Presley.
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Although Elvis wasn’t the top-billed star in the movie, it opened doors for him in the world of acting, helping him land future roles. He appeared in several movies throughout his career, but it’s clear that Elvis’s true passion was music. Acting seemed like a side hobby for this star.

1957: Doris Day

Doris Day was an accomplished Hollywood singer and actress. Her talent truly paid off in a huge way in 1957 with Whatever Will Be – the song she beautifully performed in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, for which she won an Academy Award.

A studio portrait of Doris Day.
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That same year, Doris Day starred in The Pajama Game and recorded six songs for the movie’s soundtrack. The actress continued to work as a popular Hollywood actress for another decade or so, but 1957 was certainly her year.

1958: Sidney Poitier

Ever since his first major breakout performance in 1947, Sidney Poitier commanded the screen. But it was his title role in The Defiant alongside Tony Curtis in 1958 that really put his name on the map. The respected actor won his first Academy Award nomination the following year.

Sidney Poitier in a still from a film.
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From that point on, Poitier was regarded as a talented and respected actor. Sidney was not only the first Bahamian American to earn a nomination, but he was the first African American to be nominated for best actor.

1959: Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis made his Hollywood debut a decade prior, but his career didn’t really start heating up until 1959. Like his costar Sidney Poitier, Curtis became a huge star after his work in The Defiant Ones.

A portrait of Tony Curtis.
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For his brilliant performance, Curtis was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Bambi Award – which he won, shooting him into a whole other level of fame. The hunky actor appeared in countless movies throughout his career, which spanned six decades.

1960: The Rat Pack

The Rat Pack is a group of famous celebrities that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr. They were actually named by famed actress Lauren Bacall, who joked that the famous friends looked as tight as a “pack of rats.”

A studio portrait of the Rat Pack.
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The name stuck. So did their notorious reputation for seducing gorgeous women and acting in big-budget films. That sounds like a nice life if you ask me. In 1960, the Rat Pack was in their heyday after appearing in Ocean’s 11 together.

1961: Natalie Wood

Most people remember Natalie Wood as the bright kid from 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street. However, she proved herself to be a gifted actress long after her child star days. This is quite impressive because, as we know, most child stars are unable to make the transition to mature performers.

Natalie Wood poses for a studio portrait.
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But Natalie Wood was certainly an exception, and 1961 was her year! She starred in two movies, West Side Story and Splendor in the Grass. In fact, the latter performance earned the starlet her second Academy Award nomination and skyrocketed her into cult-fame status!

1962: Marilyn Monroe

The only starlet to make this list twice is none other than the iconic beauty, Marilyn Monroe. In 1962, the already famous starlet sang Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy, fueling rumors that she had an affair with the President.

A portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
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In August of that year, 36-year-old Monroe was found dead in her home after an overdose that catapulted her name into the headlines and secured her legacy as a Hollywood icon. I can write a whole article on the conspiracy theories surrounding her death and her alleged relationship with the president.

1963: Elizabeth Taylor

When it comes to the starlets of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Elizabeth Taylor immediately comes to mind. She had already been a cinematic elite for more than two decades when she starred in her most epic film: 1963’s Cleopatra. Liz didn’t earn any awards or nominations for her role, but the movie itself won four Oscars.

A still of Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.
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Either way, it made Elizabeth Taylor incredibly famous. It was the top-grossing movie of the year and was also reportedly the most expensive film ever made at that point. The actress had an unheard of (at the time) $1 million paycheck for her performance – more than any leading lady had ever earned for a role (at the time).

1964: The Beatles

The Beatles certainly had years of overwhelming success, but 1964 was a groundbreaking year for the band. It marked their transition from a popular British group to an international phenomenon. After making it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their hit track I Want to Hold Your Hand, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February; the Beatles were unstoppable.

A picture of The Beatles waving on their arrival in London.
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The Beatles were thrust into the spotlight, and they became one of the most prolific bands of the century.

1965: Julie Andrews

In 1965 was quite the year for Julie Andrews. The starlet was on top of the world after winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her critically acclaimed performance as Mary Poppins, but that wasn’t all she had going on.

A portrait of Julie Andrews.
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That year, Andrews also starred in The Sound of Music which is widely regarded as some of her most brilliant work. The classic earned the actress another Academy Award nomination and another Golden Globe. 1965 may have been her prime, but the starlet continued to actively work in the industry well into the 2000s. In fact, the 86-year-old actress is set to voice Arlena Gru in the Minions: The Rise of Gru, scheduled to come out in 2022.

1966: Clint Eastwood

Believe it or not, Clint Eastwood was relatively unknown in Hollywood until 1966, when he starred in the spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Before that, he appeared in a handful of films but was mostly uncredited.

Clint Eastwood on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
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However, his role as Blondie catapulted Eastwood into extreme stardom while simultaneously creating a demand for more movies in a genre that used to be ignored by critics. The 91-year-old actor continues to star in movies and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

1967: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is a household name, but his epic music finally stretched to outside of the U.K. in 1967 – that’s when his career truly took off after he came out with one of the greatest albums of all time, Are You Experienced, in the U.S. where it reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 200.

A portrait of Jimi Hendrix.
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That same year, Jimi famously set his guitar on fire while performing on stage, sealing his legacy in pop culture forever. Unfortunately, like many other unfortunate musicians, Jimi Hendrix was part of the notorious 27 Club when he passed away in 1970, at 27 years old.

1968: Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand was already a force to be reckoned with as a singer and actress on Broadway. However, it was her first starring movie role that made her a household name. In 1968, the starlet landed the lead role in Funny Girl.

Barbra Streisand in a still from the film.
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If people didn’t recognize her from Broadway, they definitely knew her name after the movie came out. Not only was Funny Face a huge success, but it also helped Babs take home her first Academy Award and Golden Globe.

1969: Paul Newman

Paul Newman had been in the Hollywood acting scene since 1949, but the actor rose to new levels of fame in 1949, when he was nominated for a best picture Academy Award for producing the film Rachel, Rachel the previous year. That film was also his directorial debut.

A studio portrait of Paul Newman.
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In addition, the star appeared in two movies that same year: Winning and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He earned himself even more fans when she showed audiences that he had much more to offer the movie business than just his killer performances.

1970: John Wayne

Marion Robert Morrison, otherwise known by his stage name John Wayne, had been in the industry for decades. However, with 40 years of experience under his belt, his fame was reignited in 1970 when he was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor.

John Wayne on the set of a film.
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Not only was he nominated, but the actor took home the trophy! His amazing performance in True Grit proved that, sometimes, Hollywood leading men only get better with age. Like a fine wine. Unfortunately, the talented star lost his battle to stomach cancer and died of the disease in 1979.

1971: Sonny and Cher

If there is one memorable musical duo from Old Hollywood, Sonny and Cher are certainly up there. After partnering up and creating numerous hit songs together, Sonny and Cher launched The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in 1971. It was just as successful as their music.

A studio portrait of Sonny and Cher.
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The popular show featured funny skits and celebrity guest stars like Tony Curtis and Ronald Reagan. That same year, Cher’s solo album, Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves, was released, which marked the beginning of her solo musical career separate from Sonny.

1972: Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando had been in the acting industry since 1950, but the Hollywood star really made a name for himself in 1972, thanks to the critically acclaimed film The Godfather. The movie marked a new era for the acting legend.

A still of Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
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Marlon Brando took home an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his outstanding portrayal of Don Vito Corleone, the patriarch of a crime family in New York. Throughout his career spanning six decades, The Godfather is his most memorable work. The movie was so successful that a sequel came out in 1974.

1973: Robert Redford

Robert Redford was a familiar face in Hollywood for almost 13 years before becoming a bonafide movie star. After appearing alongside Paul Newman in 1973’s The Sting, the prolific actor finally earned his very first Academy Award nomination.

A portrait of Robert Redford.
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That same year, the dashing actor also starred in The Way We Were alongside Barbra Streisand. That year really propelled the actor into the impressive career and long resume he has now. The actor has been steadily working ever since, although the 85-year-old actor seems to be slowing down a little these past years. And after gracing us with his on-screen presence for decades, he deserves a break.

1974: Stevie Wonder

Twelve years after coming out with his first studio album, Stevie Wonder finally made it to No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and topped the R&B chart in 1974, with his 17th studio album, Fulfillingness’ First Finale.

A headshot of Stevie Wonder.
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The masterpiece also earned the singer Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal, and Best Male Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance. Wow! Now that’s impressive! Wonder is credited as a pioneer who has influenced musicians across several genres, making him a respected and legendary singer.

1975: Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro had been on the Hollywood scene since the late 1960s, but shockingly, his career didn’t pick up until the next decade. I know, it seems like Robert De Niro has been around forever, but he didn’t become a household name until 1975.

A portrait of Robert De Niro.
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That year marked De Niro’s intense performance as a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II. The actor won his very first Academy Award, which launched his career as one of the most in-demand actors in the industry.

1976: Farrah Fawcett

The beautiful and talented Farrah Fawcett was already a well-known television actress, but 1976 was a huge year for the iconic blonde. She was acting on Harry O and The Six Million Dollar Man when she landed the life-changing role of Jill Munroe on Charlie’s Angels.

Farrah Fawcett poses for a portrait.
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The television show made Farrah Fawcett a superstar and brought the starlet her very first Golden Globe Nomination. 1976 was also the year that the starlet’s iconic swimsuit photo was released. The gorgeous actress had an amazing career but tragically lost her life to cancer in 2009.

1977: Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher landed her second big-screen movie role as Princess Leia in 1977’s Star Wars. Despite her lack of acting experience prior to the cult movie, the actress got to play the most iconic character of her lifetime. Although she wasn’t nominated for any awards for her work on the sci-fi project, the huge role threw Fisher into superstardom.

A studio portrait of Carrie Fisher.
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The movie itself earned multiple awards. Star Wars won a whopping six Oscars and helped showcase Carrie Fisher’s true talent outside of her famous parents’ shadows – actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.

1978: Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta

You can’t talk about the year 1978 without mentioning Grease and the movie’s darling main characters, Sandy and Danny, famously played by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. The duo lit up the big screen in a dance-heavy musical.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in a promotional still for Grease.
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The film captivated worldwide audiences, and the stars were on top of their game. Everyone knew who these celebrities were, thanks to the immense success of their movie. Both actors were nominated for Golden Globes for their remarkable work in Greece. It really paved the path for their future careers.

1979: Meryl Streep

It may be hard to believe, but Meryl Streep didn’t earn her legendary status overnight. Her hard work finally paid off in 1979. That was the year that transformed Streep from an aspiring newcomer in Hollywood to a critically acclaimed phenomenon.

A portrait of Meryl Streep.
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Not only did she just earn her first Academy Award nomination the year before for her performance in The Deer Hunter, but she also starred in three motion pictures: Manhattan, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, and Kramer vs. Kramer. The latter brought her an Oscar in 1980.

1980: Queen’s Freddie Mercury

Queen is credited for transforming music into an epic experience. In 1980, the band, led by their enigmatic frontman Freddie Mercury, released their eighth studio album, The Game. This ended up being Queen’s only album to make it to No. 1 in the States.

Freddy Mercury performs on stage.
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Naturally, the musical sensations were huge that year, especially lead singer Freddy Mercury, who was also the face of the band. One of their most popular tracks from the album was Another One Bites the Dust, which was No. 7 in Britain but reached No. 1 in America.

1981: Princess Diana

In 1981, Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles at a live televised event that transformed her into Diana, Princess of Wales, in front of 750 million viewers. The shy new royal was known for her elegant style, dashing good looks, and kind heart.

A picture of Princess Diana traveling in a glass coach.
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She was definitely a fashion icon, but it was her generous and warm personality that ultimately made her beloved by so many. She was dubbed “The People’s Princess,” as she always seemed to have everyone’s best interest at heart.

1982: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was no stranger to fame. I mean, he had been a pop sensation since he was a child in the Jackson 5 – the successful band he had with his four brothers. But Michael Jackson was thrust into extreme superstardom in 1982 with his album Thriller.

A portrait of Michael Jackson.
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The album cemented the singer’s legacy as the King of Pop. Thriller included catchy tracks like Beat It and Billie Jean and ultimately became the bestselling album of all time, going multi-platinum an astonishing 32 times over, and Michael Jackson took home the Grammy for album of the year.

1983: Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy never fails to get audiences laughing thanks to his comedic timing, but he had to start somewhere. In 1982, Eddie Murphy made the leap from Saturday Night Live to the big screen with his debut movie, 48 Hours, co-starring Nick Nolte.

A portrait of Eddie Murphy at the Annual Academy Awards.
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Needless to say, the movie was a massive success. Eddie Murphy went from a famous comedian to a respected actor. In 1983, Murphy earned his very first Golden Globe nomination. Later that same year, he landed a starring role on Trading Places with fellow SNL alum, Dan Aykroyd.

1984: Prince

Prince came out with his fourth studio album, Purple Rain, in 1984, which was the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. The album was instantly considered a musical masterpiece, and people couldn’t get enough of the eccentric singer.

A portrait of Prince performing on stage.
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The hit album included hit songs like When Doves Cry and I Would Die 4 U. The album stayed on the No. 1 spot on the Billboard album chart for 24 consecutive weeks and earned Prince not one but two Grammys.

1985: The Brat Pack

The 1980s are synonymous with coming-of-age movies. A group of eight young Hollywood stars and starlets who usually appeared in those films became collectively known as The Brat Pack, a nod to the original Rat Pack, only this group included ladies.

A picture of the Brat Pack.
Source: Copyright: Columbia Pictures

The Brat Pack consisted of Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, and Andrew McCarthy. The octet reached its prime in 1985 and was infamous for partying in Hollywood while making box office hits like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club.

1986: Madonna

Ever since she burst into the music scene in 1983, Madonna hasn’t stopped making a name for herself as one of the most powerful performers in the industry. She was already famous in 1986 when she released her third studio album, True Blue.

A portrait of Madonna.
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True Blue catapulted the already famous singer into an international superstar. It was her first album to make it to number 1 across the world. Not only that, but it earned the famed singer her second Grammy nomination for the track Papa Don’t Preach.

1987: Patrick Swayze

Dirty Dancing wasn’t Patrick Swayze’s first movie, but it was definitely the one that made him a household name. Dirty Dancing was actually Swayze’s seventh major motion picture, so he was already known in the industry.

Patrick Swayze poses for a portrait.
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However, it was only after Dirty Dancing that Swayze became one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood and, unsurprisingly, a major sex symbol. The handsome actor was a quadruple threat. He didn’t just dance and act in the movie – he also wrote and sang She’s Like the Wind for the film’s soundtrack.

1988: Bette Midler

Bette Midler was known for her comedic wit and dynamic energy, but the actress and singer really made waves in Hollywood in 1988. That year, she appeared in three huge motion pictures, including Big Business Mickey’s 60th Birthday and Beaches – alongside Barbara Hershey.

A portrait of Bette Midler.
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Bette Midler wasn’t just a remarkable movie star; she also sang every song on the Beaches soundtrack, including her No. 1 hit, Wind Beneath My Wings. After that, Midler was a household name and proved that she had natural-born talent, not just a pretty face.

1989: New Kids on the Block

When New Kids on the Block came out with their second studio album, Hanging Tough in 1988, it was a huge success, and by 1989, it reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart. The popular band consisted of Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, and Jonathan Knight.

Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood of New Kids on the Block.
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The boys suddenly became one of the hottest music groups of the decade, with devoted teenage fangirls all over the world. The band members were at their prime and enjoyed the fame and fortune their success brought.

1990: Julia Roberts

She may be a Hollywood A-lister now, but there was once a time where Julia Roberts was a relatively unknown actress. In 1990, the starlet went from supporting actress to leading lady in the film Pretty Woman. The iconic role made Roberts one of the most popular actresses of the generation.

A portrait of Julia Roberts.
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Although she had a few minor roles, her performance in Pretty Woman earned her a second Academy Award nomination (the first was for her work in Steel Magnolias the previous year). The movie also helped her become one of the highest-paid actresses of the 1990s.