Power Couples & Persons of the Year from Graduations Past

December 12, 2016 · CLASSMATES FUN

Each new year brings with it a fresh set of cultural events, national news stories, award-winning films and albums, celebrity marriages and divorces, and other noteworthy happenings that go on to define it in our collective memory.

With a new reunion season fast approaching, we decided to jog that collective memory with a roundup of TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” and power couples from graduations past.

Some people will likely be more familiar than others. Some you may have forgotten altogether. All played an important part in defining their shared moment in history.

Wikimedia Creative Commons; © WireImage

1996: Dr. David Ho | Faith Hill & Tim McGraw

Person of the Year: Leading AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho is one of the lesser-known people to have ever been named TIME’s Person of the Year. Ho was among the first to hypothesize that AIDS was a virus and only the fourth scientist to successfully isolate it. His research on HIV replication led him to champion the cause of what is called combination anti-retroviral therapy. The treatment has significantly reduced AIDS-related deaths in developed countries since 1996.

Power Couple: Even for those actively avoiding country music news, there was no escaping the marriage of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in 1996. They were already among country’s biggest stars when they joined forces for the Spontaneous Combustion Tour that spring. The attraction was obvious to both immediately, and they began a relationship that resulted in Hill breaking off her engagement to former producer Scott Hendricks. Hill and McGraw married in October of that year, with Hill giving birth to the first of their three children in 1997.

AP Photo/Charles E. Kelly; © Ron Galella/WireImage

1991: Ted Turner | David Bowie & Iman

Person of the Year: Ted Turner became the first media figure ever to be named TIME’s Person of the Year. CNN, just over a decade old by then, had spent much of the year bringing the first Persian Gulf War into American living rooms in ways that were then unheard of. This wasn’t the only accolade Turner would receive that year, either. The Television Hall of Fame inducted him into its ranks, and the National Audubon Society awarded him its Audubon medal for the emphasis he placed on conservation-themed programming.

Power Couple: David Bowie said of his wife, Somali-born supermodel Iman, that he “was naming the children the first night we met.” That was in 1990 – the result of a blind date set up by a mutual friend. They were married two years later and welcomed their first child in August of 2000. Theirs remained one of the longest-lasting celebrity marriages until Bowie passed away in early 2016 at the age of 69.

Wikimedia Creative Commons; © WireImage

1986: Corazon Aquino | Madonna & Sean Penn

Person of the Year: Widowed by the 1983 assassination of her husband – opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. – Corazon Aquino became the first female president in the Philippines and in Asia, thanks to the “People Power Revolution,” a series of demonstrations that protested the controversial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino endured numerous coup attempts over the next six years, maintaining the office until 1992, when she chose not to seek reelection.

Power Couple: Still just newlyweds in 1986, Madonna and Sean Penn found their relationship in the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. The couple had married just six months after meeting and quickly fell into a destructive routine of alleged infidelity, drunken shouting matches in public, and violence, directed both at each other and members of the press. For Hollywood gossip writers and their readers, it was a perfect union. The two would end their tumultuous marriage in 1989.

Wikimedia Creative Commons; © David O'Neil

1981: Lech Walesa | Farrah Fawcett & Ryan O'Neal

Person of the Year: Poland’s Lech Walesa was the influential co-founder and leader of the country’s Solidarity Trade Union Movement. In 1980, he helped organize a strike that included multiple plants throughout the country, leading the communist government to sign the Gdansk Agreement. The agreement legalized Solidarity as the first trade union in a Warsaw Pact country that was not controlled by the communist party. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as Poland’s president from 1990 to 1995.

Power Couple: Farrah Fawcett was already America’s sweetheart – and already married – when Ryan O’Neal first met her in 1979. She had graduated from TV actor to full-fledged superstar in 1976 as America’s favorite “Angel.” He had made his name in Hollywood on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place as well as through silver-screen performances in films like Paper Moon and A Bridge Too Far. Though the couple never tied the knot, they had a son together in 1985. Despite having separated in 1997, it was O’Neal who was by Fawcett’s side when she died in 2009.

Wikimedia Creative Commons; © Rolling Stone/France

1976: Jimmy Carter | Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham+

Person of the Year: Peanut farmer-turned-politician Jimmy Carter took to the Oval Office with big changes in mind in 1976. On only his second day as President, Carter pardoned all who’d evaded the Vietnam War draft. He went on to establish two new Cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. Carter was also key in arranging the the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt as well as negotiating the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with the Soviet Union.

Power Couple: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Where to start with these two? Their relationship was already falling apart when they entered the studio to record Rumours in 1976. From the excessive drug and alcohol use, Nicks’ alleged affair with drummer Mick Fleetwood, and general scorned-lover angst came one of the most unforgettable and best-selling albums in music history. Rumours, produced in 1976 and released in February of 1977, stayed atop the U.S. Billboard 200 for 31 non-consecutive weeks and also reached number one in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. As of 2009, it had sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.


Now that you’re in full nostalgia mode, who do you remember? Whom had you forgotten? And how do they compare with more recent power couples and Persons of the Year?