There were celebrations and shockers: a royal wedding, a minute-long reality TV marriage, an acquittal for an accused mom and a hero on Dancing With The Stars. PEOPLE magazine celebrates the biggest pop culture moments in a year-end double issue featuring the "25 Most Intriguing People of 2011."
In an exclusive White House interview, The President and First Lady speak to PEOPLE about facing an election year with a still-struggling economy and sobering poll numbers – and reveal how they really feel about helping Sasha and Malia with their homework.
The union of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who grace the cover, is named the "Wedding of the Year." A handsome prince in scarlet, his exquisite bride in hand-stitched lace, a horse-drawn carriage and a balcony kiss – make that two! – for the ages. Eight months after the Big Day Watched Round the World, Prince William and Princess Kate – a.k.a the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – both 29, have lived up to the hype, bringing their unique combo of high glamor and easy warmth everywhere from Buckingham Palace to Hollywood to their adopted of home Anglesey, Wales.
J.R. Martinez, named PEOPLE's Dancing Hero of 2011, had an incredible year, winning Dancing with the Stars. The Iraqi war vet and former All My Children star's dance card is filling up with offers, including one to pen his memoir. "People tell me, 'You've taught me to be a better person,'" says Martinez. "That, to me, is the trophy."
In March, Charlie Sheen, named The Warlock by PEOPLE, went on a bizzaro spree, veering from rants against his show's co-creator to waving a machete and "Tiger Blood" on an L.A. rooftop. After getting fired, Sheen, 46, pulled himself together. Now he's on to his next TV project, fittingly called Anger Management.
From John Galliano's name calling to Gerard Depardieu's public urination, PEOPLE reviews the year's lowlights in Hall of Shame.
Kelly Osbourne vs. Christina Aguilera, Len Goodman vs. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Betty White vs. Lindsay Lohan, Daniel Craig vs. The Kardashians and January Jones vs. Zach Galifianakis – check out the biggest celebrity feuds of 2011!
Many celebs said their "I do's" this year: Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton's country-chic fete, Nick Lachey & Vanessa Minnillo's intimate, luxurious affair, and 12 more happy Couples of the Year who tied the knot.
Plus, many new lives entered the world in 2011. The Babies of the Year include P!nk & Carey Hart's daughter Willow Sage, Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon's twins Monroe & Moroccan, Jewel & Ty Murray's son Kase Townes, and five other celebrity bundles of joy.
Demi Moore says goodbye to Ashton Kutcher, J.Lo parts with Marc Anthony and Arnold Schwarzenegger shocks Maria Shriver; PEOPLE looks back at the year's big breakups. The list includes Leonardo DiCaprio & Bar Refaeli, Derek Jeter & Minka Kelly, Alex Rodriguez & Cameron Diaz and other couples who ended their relationships in 2011.
A Year in Pictures includes a collection of photos – protesters who occupied Wall Street, soldiers who came home, muggles who said goodbye to a wizard – illustrating that 2011 brought people together in revolution, in reunion and to share magical memories.
In a special Tributes section, PEOPLE remembers Hollywood legends, cultural titans and other luminaries who passed away in 2011, with friends and family sharing memories. Russell Brand posted on his blog about singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse: "She was sweet and peculiar but most of all vulnerable… [She had] a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond." Katy Perry tells PEOPLE of actress Jane Russell: She "went to my parents' church when I was growing up. She was a beautiful woman as well as a very spiritual woman. She meant a lot to me and to my family." Chelsea Clinton of her Grandmother, Dorothy Rodham, "I will think of her, as I always have, as my comfort in my darkest moments, my companion in my illuminated ones and my eternal inspiration." See the Tributes section for 22 other Hollywood tributes.
Complete List of PEOPLE's "25 MOST INTRIGUING OF 2011" (list not ranked)
Prince William & Kate Middleton: The Newlyweds
Jennifer Aniston & Justin Theroux: The Dynamic Duo
Jaycee Dugard: The Survivor
Adele: Voice of the Year
Gabrielle Giffords: The Fighter
Serena & Venus Williams: Tennis Aces
Bradley Cooper & Ryan Gosling: Hot Guys
Justin Bieber: Prince of Pop
Zooey Deschanel: Most Endearing Actress
Kim Kardashian: The Runaway Wife
Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones: Perfect Partners
Melissa McCarthy: Comedy Queen
Emma Stone: The Breakout Star
Amanda Knox: The Exonerated
Conrad Murray: The Disgraced
Casey Anthony: The Acquitted
Jerry Sandusky: The Accused
Charlie Sheen: The Warlock
J.R. Martinez: Dancing Hero
SPLITS of 2011 (list not ranked)
Ashton Kutcher & Demi Moore
Leonardo DiCaprio & Bar Refaeli
Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony
Derek Jeter & Minka Kelly
Alex Rodriguez & Cameron Diaz
Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver
Oliva Wilde & Tao Ruspoli
Elizabeth Hurley & Arun Nayar
WEDDINGS of 2011 (list not ranked)
Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton
Nick Lachey & Vanessa Minnillo
Sinéad O'Connor & Barry Herridge
Prince Albert II & Charlene Wittstock
America Ferrera & Ryan Piers Williams
LeAnn Rimes & Eddie Cibrian
Paul McCartney & Nancy Shevell
Reese Witherspoon & Jim Toth
Michael Kors & Lance LePere
Brooke Burke & David Charvet
Sherri Shepherd & Lamar Sally
Shania Twain & Frédéric Thiérbaud
Chely Wright & Lauren Blitzer
Valerie Bertinelli & Tom Vitale
BABIES of 2011 (list not ranked)
Pink & Carey Hart (Willow Sage)
Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon (Monroe & Moroccan)
Jewel & Ty Murray (Kase Townes)
Mariska Hargitay & Peter Hermann (Amaya & Andrew)
Victoria Beckham & David Beckham (Harper)
Natalie Portman & Benjamin Millepied (Aleph)
Laila Ali & Curtis Conway (Sydney)
Kate Hudson & Matthew Bellamy (Bingham)
HALL OF SHAME (list not ranked)
Hank Williams Jr.
The Pepper Spray Cop