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They're just five inches wide by seven inches high. But who said you have to be big to have style? Thanks to a sparkling array of talented artists and photographers, TV Guide covers - more than 2,800 and counting - have now been looming large for 50 years, boldly capturing people, programs and events from television's golden age right through to the 21st century. To commemorate our golden anniversary, we've selected 50 of our most outstanding covers. Ranging from elegant portraits to multiple collectible illustrations and featuring works by such artistic legends as Norman Rockwell, Philippe Halsman, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, these pop-culture primers have one thing in common: They look really cool. Here are our favorites, along with the exclusive story behind each one.

April 3, 1953: Lucy's baby
Volume 1, No. 1: TV Guide is born. To herald the blessed event, we turned to the most famous newborn in the country, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, and his mother, TV's biggest star, Lucille Ball. (Shrewdly, Lucy timed Desi Jr.'s arrival via cesarean so it would coincide with Little Ricky's birth episode, which aired January 19.) "I; don't remember doing that cover," jokes Arnaz, 49, who also says he never understood why he was billed on the cover as the "$50,000,000; baby." We've got some 'splainin' to do: Industry insiders predicted Desi Jr. would propel the lucrative Lucy merchandising machine into overdrive. His cherubic face still has ka-ching value: A pristine copy of this rare issue can cost upward of $2,000.

April 26, 1958: Zorro
In spotlighting a children's show, this was a rare cover for its time. But Zorro, starring Guy Williams as a 19th-century caped crusader, was no ordinary kiddie hit. How hot was this TV hero? According to Laddie Delaplane, TV Guide's photo editor at the time, "Doctors; kept little ones from crying by using the famous Z mark when they gave those skin-scratch allergy tests. Nobody was bigger than Zorro." Or more humble than Williams, photographed here by Dave Preston. "Few; stars then or now would agree to wear a mask on a major magazine cover," says Delaplane. "But; Guy was a doll, the least actorish star there ever was."

Click here for more Dates and info on the 50 Greatest TV Guide Covers
 

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Geez, what's next, "TV Guide's 50 Greatest Channel Numbers"?
"TV Guide's Top Test Patterns"?
"TV Guide's Favorite EBS Tests"?
Seriously, TV Guide is a wonderful publication. Those
covers are collectors items for some folks but I think
the mag is a wee bit self indulgent.
 
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