Marjorie Hellen: “Identification Girl” The Ultimate Objectification Or Not?

Featured on the cover of People Today, September 22, 1954, was “Marjorie Hellen… TV’s Golden Girl.”

Her story begins on page 55, filed under “People In TV,” Hellen’s story is titled She’s ‘Compatible’ Marjorie Hellen Is Strawberry Blond Trade-Mark on Color TV.

If that’s not intriguing enough, check out the caption under the photo: “Marjorie And Her Rival Black-And-White Test Pattern (rear)”.

From the article:

Millions of NBC-TV viewers are getting slightly frustrated whenever the smiling image of lovely Marjorie Hellen flashes on their black-and-white screens with her quiet announcement: “The following program…will be broadcast in color …” The reason: Around 10,000 TV sets in the U.S., costing between $495 and $1,100, are showing the same girl as she appears on PEOPLE TODAY’S cover–gray-eyed, strawberry blond.

Marjorie, who doubles as a live test pattern for sensitive color cameras, is the “identification girl” for NBC Color TV, which has scheduled 39 90-minute “spectaculars” for its compatible system (the shows can also be received in black-and-white) during 1954-1955.

The article credits “an attack of anemia” for Hellen getting the gig — not specifically for her coloring (though only her doctor knows for sure), but for her availability:

It kept her from going to school, made her available when Claude Traverse, manager of NBC’s color unit, selected her from photos as having the “ideal flesh tone” for lining up color cameras.

Hellen may be more familiar to you as Leslie Parrish; she changed her name in 1959.


  1. This is the same lass who, a few years later, would become known as Leslie Parrish and appear in such varied works as the “Li’l Abner” movie, “The Manchurian Candidate,” and a famous “Star Trek” episode.

  2. Fine actress, and so beautiful! Thanks for this cool post.

    She even managed to retain her dignity by sincerely playing a denizen of the moon in the absurd 1958 sci-fi schlockfest “Missile to the Moon.”

    I think her relationship with Laurence Harvey’s character Raymond in 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate is one of most memorable and shocking romances in all film, largely because of how warmly and authentically she conveyed her interest and love for the misanthropic Raymond. She made us feel the tragedy of the story most acutely. A lovely, haunting performance.

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