The Very First TV Guide Turns 70! What Issues Are Most Valuable Today?
Before computers and onscreen guides, you had one way to find out what was on TV, and it was your trusted TV Guide Magazine, which helped you find what you wanted to watch and when it would air (and, by the way, it’s still doing that today!). There were no VDRs or DVRs to capture your shows, you had to wait patiently for your favorites to come on. Commercial breaks were for bathroom breaks and gathering snacks, and if you missed anything important, you might not ever see it again. Family members would yell ”It’s on! It’s back on” to warn you when the program returned. It was 70 years ago today that the very first national edition of TV Guide Magazine was introduced to consumers. Can you remember who was on the cover?
It was none other than Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz‘s son Desi Arnaz Jr. On April 3, 1953, the first national issue of TV Guide Magazine was launched, and it would become the largest weekly circulation magazine in the world. The cover read, “Lucy’s $50,000,000 baby” referring to the marketing value of the baby due to Lucille’s pregnancy in I Love Lucy. It was a big deal at the time. While Lucy’s photo was at the top of the cover in a small inset box, over the next 50-plus years, she would grace the magazine’s cover another 39 times, a feat no other celeb has even come close to doing.
TV Guide has been around for 70 years
The magazine almost instantly became the undisputed source for critical perspectives on television attracting top writers and illustrators, and ultimately became an icon itself. During the first 50 years of print, the magazine was digest size and had localized versions of TV listings for the top TV markets across the country (at one time there were about 180 different editions being printed). While the format has changed several times over the years, the mission to help people find what to watch on TV has never wavered. By the 1960s, TV Guide Magazine was the most-read and circulated magazine in the United States. Do you remember how much it cost back in the day? Well, the initial cost was 15 cents per copy. As of 2023, it costs $4.99 per copy (we must note that ReMIND Magazine is also now owned by the same company that owns TV Guide Magazine).
See how the format, photos, and even the logo have changed over the years. While the first issue of TV Guide Magazine (April 3, 1953) is valued highest in the collector’s market, here are just a handful of other older issues that get top dollar in the collector’s market.
Sept. 25, 1953 – George Reeves of Adventures of Superman
July 17, 1954 —Roy Rogers of The Roy Rogers Show
October 23, 1954 — Walt Disney on Disneyland
Disney collectors would love this issue!
September 8, 1956 — Elvis Presley, The Plain Truth About Elvis Presley
May 5, 1960 — Frank Sinatra’s Welcome Home Party for Elvis Presley
Elvis anything is always a collectible.
September 8, 1962 — Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker of Bonanza
Any Michael Landon cover is coveted by collectors.
March 21, 1964 — Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, and Jim Nabors of The Andy Griffith Show
March 26, 1966 — Adam West of Batman
March 4, 1967 —William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek
April 4, 1970 — The cast of The Brady Bunch
August 16, 1975 — The cast of Emergency!
Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth of Emergency! also have a cover in 1974 that is extremely popular.