For eight decades now, the final TIME Magazine cover of each year has featured, the “individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news.” The tradition began in 1927 with Charles Lindbergh, after he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and has continued to the present, with both positive and negative newsmakers earning the distinction of being TIME’s “Man of the Year,” or “Person of the Year,” as it was renamed in 1999 for the purpose of gender neutrality (although four women had been featured under the previous title).
Throughout that period of time, the list of honorees has been long, distinguished, and not without controversy. In 1930, in only the fourth year of the budding tradition, the first non-white, non-American was featured in Mahatma Gandhi. The first female, American divorcee Wallis Simpson, was named Man of the Year in 1936, when Britain’s King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in order to marry her.
In 1949, Winston Churchill was named not only Man of the Year, but Man of the Half-Century by TIME, and in 1950, against the backdrop of the recently-ended Second World War, and in the face of the intensifying conflict in Korea, “The American Fighting-Man” was featured as the first abstract honoree.
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