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Groucho Marx hosts a quiz show which features a series of competitive questions and a great deal of humourous conversation.




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Nominated for 7 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »



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Complete series cast summary:
George Fenneman ...


You Bet Your Life was taken from Groucho's radio series of the same name. It was inspired after Groucho had done an improvisational scene with Bob Hope on radio. The idea was the same as it later was with Bill Cosby: to invite people on and have an unrehearsed conversation with them. Groucho could always be counted on to enliven the banter with his unique blend of comedy and wit. After talking with Groucho for several minutes, the contestants chose quiz questions from a category they had preselected and, if they answered them correctly, won money. Written by <A.Briggs@RHBNC.AC.UK>

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Release Date:

5 October 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Betcha Life  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Phyllis Diller received her first national exposure as a contestant on the show. See more »


[Opening lines to the show]
Announcer: And here he is, the one, the only:
Audience: GROUCHO!
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Featured in This Is Elvis (1981) See more »


Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Music and Lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
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User Reviews

Fun show, even for a kid
14 July 2005 | by See all my reviews

Groucho sat behind a high desk or lectern, talking to his announcer, the contestants, and the audience, raising his eyebrows or grinning slyly to make or emphasize a joke. He often fiddled with his ever-present cigar. I can't remember if he actually smoked the cigar on the show, but it would not surprise me if he did, as smoking was pervasive in those days.

"You Bet Your Life" was probably shot on a theater stage, as I remember curtains behind the performers. The announcer/straight man George Fenneman, stood nearby (left side of TV screen), his dark hair lying tight against his scalp, perhaps slicked down with Brylcreem or something similar. (To see Fenneman in a dramatic role, watch the original version of the movie "The Thing.") When this show aired on TV in the 1950s, I was in grade school so the verbal humor, aimed at adults, usually went over my head. From a kid's perspective the best part of the show was the institution of the "secret word," announced to the audience (but not the contestants) before contestants appeared on the stage. If a contestant uttered the secret word during the show, he or she would win extra money. Groucho mentioned this concept when introducing the guests at the start of their appearance ("Say the secret word and win $100.") If a contestant said the secret word, it was acknowledged with the appearance of a puppet-type duck that was lowered from above on a string or wire. The duck's mouth held an envelope containing the money and its face was modeled after Groucho's: mustache, thick eyebrows, and (I think) a cigar in its mouth. Great fun!

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