Marilyn's film career took off at the same time as television was beginning to make inroads into the primacy of the movies. By the early sixties, movie audiences had decreased by half on what they had been when Marilyn was first signed by a Hollywood studio.

In her starlet years when work was scarce, Marilyn tried to find work on television too.  Producer Stanley Rubin, who worked with Marilyn on There's no business like show business (1954) turned her down for a TV movie The Necklace at the very beginning of her career.

Marilyn only appeared on television a few times in her life.  She felt that she was too nervous to risk putting across a poor image on live television, and live or studio shows were the only ones to which she was invited.  Her first ever television appearance, however, was in a TV commercial for Royal Triton Oil.

Marilyn's television debut was on the Jack Benny show, broadcast on September 13, 1953, in which she joined the host for a sketch.  Watch Marilyn's entire appearance below!

On April 8, 1955, Marilyn officially raised her head over the parapet after walking out on Hollywood with a live interview on Edward R. Murrow's "Person to Person" show.  This was her last ever live appearance, despite lucrative offers.  It is said that in 1957 a television network offered Marilyn $2 million to star in her own television series.

Marilyn's antipathy towards television was partly personal.  She was not at all happy to find out that new husband Joe DiMaggio preferred to spend days on end watching the tube rather than talking to her.  It was reported that DiMaggio checked in advance to make sure that the motel room where they spent their wedding night had a television.

Lucille Ball did a Marilyn impersonation in an episode of her "I Love Lucy" show on November 8, 1954.  

The above gif was created and copyrighted by April Marie of

This was the first of many Marilyn take-offs and cameo appearances which continue to this day.  And of course, ever since her mysterious death, Marilyn has been featured in dozens of television documentaries; she is a fixture in any look back at hollywood or glamour or sex symbols.

In the year before she died, Marilyn was in negotiations to headline a television version of Rain, by Somerset Maugham.  Negotiations broke down when NBC refused to entrust Lee Strasberg with directing, and Marilyn would not accept any alternative.

from "The Marilyn Encyclopedia"

NOTE:  At the time of her death Marilyn did own a television, although it very well might have been for her frequent guest Joe DiMaggio.  Regardless, it was part of her belongings that were auctioned off in 1999 by Christies.

Lot 467.
A Magnvox 13 Channel Television,
15 inch screen,
Estimate $1000-1500
Sold for
$29,900 to Moses Znaimer.


Marilyn Monroe appeared on the cover of the January 23-29 1953 edition of TV Guide magazine.  Here is a scan of the copy I purchased off of Ebay.  (Just click on the thumbnail for the larger version).

Here is the only place Marilyn is mentioned anywhere inside the magazine!  There is no article about her.


Here is a scan of how the listings looked inside.

Marilyn graced the cover of TV Guide again 48 years later (in the US only)!  For the week of May 12-18, 2001 Marilyn appeared not with just a single cover but with 3 different covers available at retail.  There was a 4th cover that featured Andy Warhol Marilyns that was only available for purchase online through the TVguide store.  The covers were advertising the mini-series Blonde which was airing at the time.  There was one additional cover that featured Poppy Montgomery as Marilyn.  You can click on the following thumbnails for larger versions.