The Very First TV Guide Turns 70! What Issues Are Most Valuable Today?

TV Guide covers from 1953 to 2023
TV Guide

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 first tv guide 1953 lucille ball desi arnaz jr

TV Guide

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

TV Guide Magazine, George Reeves, Adventures of Superman

July 17, 1954 —Roy Rogers of The Roy Rogers Show

TV Guide Magazine, July 17 1954 Roy Rogers

October 23, 1954 — Walt Disney on Disneyland

Disney collectors would love this issue!

TV Guide Magazine_Oct 23 1954 Walt Disney

September 8, 1956 — Elvis Presley, The Plain Truth About Elvis Presley

TV Guide Magazine Sept 8 1956 Elvis

May 5, 1960 — Frank Sinatra’s Welcome Home Party for Elvis Presley

Elvis anything is always a collectible.

TV Guide Magazine May 7 1960 Frank Sinatra Elvis Presley

September 8, 1962 — Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker of Bonanza

Any Michael Landon cover is coveted by collectors.

TV Guide Magazine Sept 8 1962 Lorne Greene Michael Landon


March 21, 1964 — Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, and Jim Nabors of The Andy Griffith Show

TV Guide Magazine March 21 1964 Don Knotts Andy Griffith

March 26, 1966 — Adam West of Batman

TV Guide Magazine March 26 1966 Adam West of Batman

March 4, 1967 —William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek

TV Guide Magazine March 4 1967 William Shatner Leonard Nimoy

April 4, 1970 — The cast of The Brady Bunch

TV Guide Magazine April 4 1970 cast of 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.

TV Guide Magazine August 16, 1975 the cast of Emergency!

TV Guide is still going strong… do you still get your subscription? If you want to subscribe, click here! Want to check out all of the covers? Click here!

TV Insider Magazine: 'Fubar,' Arnolds back!
Want More?

TV Insider Magazine: 'Fubar,' Arnolds back!

June 2023

Find out what's hot to stream in June.

Buy This Issue