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Hot Debate: Who’s Actually The “Sexiest Man Alive”?

Thor heartthrob Chris Hemsworth was just tapped as People’s “Sexiest Man Alive”—but does he stand up to past winners?

Every woman’s favorite edition of People magazine is back! This year’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue features Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth of Thor and The Avengers, looking every bit the heartthrob with his ice blue eyes and bulging biceps. But long before young pups such as Bradley Cooper, Adam Levine and Channing Tatum received the honor, hunky leading men—real men’s men such as George Clooney, Sean Connery (1989) and Denzel Washington (1996)—graced the cover. Many who have received the coveted, blush-worthy title have gone on to A-list level status, but their paths there have been unique.

Does Chris Hemsworth stand up to these powerhouse predecessors?

George Clooney, 53, has been busy in the years since he claimed the title in 1997 and 2006, both when he was the world’s most sought-after bachelor. His movies are now few and far between, but he’s still frequently in the headlines. Thanks to his previous serial dating and now marriage to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin (who is tall, thin, beautiful, and smart, naturally), he’s stayed in the news and close to our hearts. (Well, mine at least!)

Ben Affleck, meanwhile, is currently enjoying a career high like never before, with his success in recent projects Argo and Gone Girl, and suiting up as the next Batman. He scored his sexy title way back in 2002, and like a fine wine, just keeps getting better with age. (He’s now 42.) And frankly, I didn’t know he had it in him. Maybe Chris will find similar successes in his future.

Like Clooney, the eccentric, yet smoldering, Johnny Depp has been crowned “Sexiest Man Alive” twice—in 2003 and 2009. At 51, he’s still playing dynamic parts while maintaining his rugged, bad boy sex appeal by pairing up with bombshell Amber Heard, 28. Ladies do have a thing for bad boys. But Chris sure is precious with his gorgeous blond wife, Elsa Pataky, and three children.

Because when it comes to the “Sexiest Men Alive”, those with legendary love lives have fared well, too, tugging at the heartstrings of us romantics. In that camp, witness 50-year-old Brad Pitt and 52-year-old Tom Cruise. Other lovebirds include Pierce Brosnan (a newlywed in 2001) and Richard Gere (1999—and 1993 with then-wife Cindy Crawford, the only time a couple was awarded).

Then there are the legends gone too soon—John F. Kennedy, Jr (1988) and Patrick Swayze (1991). Plus Harrison Ford (1998), who just wrapped the latest Star Wars sequel—at 72! – and my personal fave, Mark Harmon (1986), breaking hearts every week on NCIS. I have no doubt Hemsworth will one day be a silver fox, too, but I hope he can live up to these legends.

He’s got some big shoes to fill. At least he has the muscles.

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