People Magazine has been awarding Hollywood hunks with the title Sexiest Man Alive since 1985, the year the magazine gave its first award to Mel Gibson.

People's Sexiest Man Alive honor has been compared to TIME's Person of the Year, though obviously People's accolade focuses mostly on physical attractiveness and celebrity clout.

The story of the award's origin roots back to an article on Mel Gibson in 1985. As the editors readied the story, Someone said, 'Oh my God, he is the sexiest man alive!' And someone said, 'You should use that as a cover line,' Julie Jordan, the magazine's special correspondent in L.A., told the Washington Post in 2007.

The honor has been bestowed at varying intervals of time over the past 26 years. No one was nominated in 1994 and there have been gaps of up to a year and a half between winners.

However, since 1997, the announcement typically comes in mid-November or early December.

So how do they decide on the victor each year?

We look at all the men who have created some sort of buzz or have been in front of the mainstream, said Jordan.

Bradley Cooper has been chosen as the Sexiest Man Alive for 2011.

Cooper's name has been in the headlines ever since his debut in Wedding Crashers followed by huge box offices hits (The Hangover movies, The A-Team, Limitless), a relationship with Renee Zellweger, and rumors of whirlwind romances with Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Lopez. 

The studly star is quite modest about the win.

I'm waiting for Dax Shepard to come out, and that it's an episode of 'Punk'd,' Cooper said to People.

The 36-year-old actor is quite the heartthrob and certainly has a way with the ladies. He told People that the sexiest thing he has done to woo a woman was Getting on a plane to go get them. 

Take a look at People magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year winners from the past 20 years.

Who is your favorite?

All cover images were retrieved from the archives.