Tonight on Lifetime: The Story of How the Sexiest Man Alive Got Its Start

We're celebrating SMA's 30th anniversary with a special on Lifetime


David Beckham Is PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive! Subscribe now and get instant access to the special double issue full of all things sexy, only in PEOPLE!

David Beckham may be this year’s Sexiest Man Alive (and sexy, he is!), but it was Mel Gibson who started PEOPLE’s famous franchise in the first place.

Legend has it that during a meeting at PEOPLE back in 1985 – the year of the first-ever Sexiest Man Alive issue – an editor looked at picture of Mel Gibson, who at the time, was starring in films like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, The Bounty and Attack Force Z, and said “That’s the sexiest man alive.”

And thus, a legend was born. Mel – and his piercing blue eyes – made the cover of PEOPLE that year, alongside the now-iconic phrase “The Sexiest Man Alive.”

That was just the beginning. Throughout the rest of the decade, PEOPLE chose four more SMAs, including St. Elsewhere‘s Mark Harmon in ’86, L.A Law‘s Harry Hamlin in ’87, John F. Kennedy Jr. in ’88, and the original James Bond, Sean Connery, in ’89.

Watch the clip above to get a taste of those early years of sexy men.

Tune in to Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night for the television special PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive 2015: 30 Years of Sexy.

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