Gracing the highly anticipated cover is Christina Applegate, star of the hit show, "Samantha Who." She was dagnosed with breast cancer last year at age 36, and decided to have a double mastectomy after testing positive for the "breast cancer gene."
Applegate has become a champion of early detection in young women, and founded a charity that pays for at-risk women to receive MRIs instead of mammograms.
"She's had such a harrowing and amazing year this year," says Amy Keith, People magazine writer and reporter.
Applegate's been in the "Most Beautiful People" issue three times before. This was her first sit-down interview since her reconstructive surgery.
"She's doing amazingly well," Keith told CBS News. "She is super-optimistic. She is living life to the fullest. ... She has a new beach house in Malibu and a boyfriend who really loves her."
"I love that People celebrates people that yes, of course, they're beautiful on the outside, but also for the beautiful deeds that they are doing," said Early Show guest co-anchor and model Kathy Ireland.
More than half of the celebs featured are first-timers on the list, including Freida Pinto, 19, and Dev Patel, 24, stars of the film "Slumdog Millionaire." And this week, says Keith, People confirmed that Pinto and Patel are now more than on-screen sweethearts -- they're dating.
Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez mentioned that Halle Berry appeared on the list yet again.
Keith said it was the thirteenth appearance for the Oscar-winning actress, adding that motherhood has made her beautiful once again.
Ireland herself made the cut -- for the first time. She called it "an honor." The issue includes a story called "Beauty At Every Age," from ages 20 to 60, and lists one beautiful star for each age. Ireland is the face of folkd 46 years old.
Simon Baker, star of the hit CBS series "The Mentalist" made this year's list. He was also named "Sexiest Blond" in People's "Sexist Men Alive" issue last fall.
Cindy Crawford appears in the "no makeup" category this year, as a true beauty. Many of the choices in that section are in their 20s, but Cindy clearly holds her own there -- with and without makeup.
Michelle Obama appears in the "Barack's Beauties" section -- something that's obviously new this year.
Putting together the list takes three months, Keith says; those selected find out on a rolling basis.