If you’ll look to the left for a moment, you’ll see how we first presented ourselves to the American public. That’s the first cover of this magazine. Mia Farrow was about to open in The Great Gatsby—which, despite our prediction, would soon be under-whelming audiences across the country. The Exorcist was hot, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was just out of the Soviet Union, enjoying his first month in the Free World, and Gloria Vanderbilt hadn’t discovered blue jeans yet. That first issue promised readers that PEOPLE would showcase “the headliners, the stars, the important doers, the comers…and plenty of ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary situations.” In carrying out that purpose through these 10 years, PEOPLE chronicled the unfolding of American culture from a fresh perspective.
What follows is not just a capsule of the magazine’s history but also a capsule of the age in which PEOPLE has existed. We begin with 10 people who in some way dominated the decade, whether by bedeviling us (Richard Nixon, the Ayatollah Khomeini), by being entertaining (Farrah Fawcett, John Travolta) or by simply being (Louise Brown). We also examine for you the times we have lived through—first in words (pages 98 and 121), then in some of our most memorable pictures (pages 128 and 152). We’ve gone back to find out what happened to the heroes, villains and clowns who filled these years (page 168), and we’ve scouted for the talents who seem most likely to delight and amaze us in the years to come (page 194).
We have enjoyed informing and, we hope, entertaining you throughout the past 10 years, and you have our warmest invitation to stay around for the next 10.