Groucho Marx hosts a quiz show which features a series of competitive questions and a great deal of humourous conversation.
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1961   1960   1959   1958   1957   1956   … See all »
Nominated for 7 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Himself - Host (202 episodes, 1950-1961)
George Fenneman ...
 Himself - Announcer (202 episodes, 1950-1961)
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Storyline

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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Details

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Release Date:

5 October 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Betcha Life  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It is part of Hollywood legend that one of the source recordings for the "laugh track" sounds heard on sitcoms since the 1960s originated from a particularly long bit of laughter that erupted during an episode of this series. See more »

Quotes

Announcer: Our next contestants are Marika Aba...
Groucho: And a happy new year.
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Connections

Followed by Richard Dawson and You Bet Your Life (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Before the duck
22 March 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

This was the first show I saw on the new invention called television. I was eight or nine years old. My family followed the tomato harvest and found jobs at a Brooks Ketchup factory in Shirley, Indiana. That would have been the summer and fall of 1951 or 1952. While driving to find work we stopped at a country store to ask directions. It was getting dark. The owner who waited on us lived in back. His wife was watching "You Bet Your Life" on TV. I had heard of the new invention but had never seen one. I was already a fan of the show because my dad and I listened to it on radio on a regular basis. The owner saw me eying the TV through the open door. "Go back and watch it," he invited me. And so I did for just a few minutes. It encouraged us to save our pennies and get our own set in 1953.

Groucho was a comic genius who was a master of one liners and clever repartee. The most famous joke about the woman with the big family who told Groucho she loved her husband and Groucho replying, "I love my cigar too but I take it out of my mouth once in a while," never aired in Arkansas (KARK, NBC, Channel 4, in Little Rock) because of censorship. But Groucho's retort made the rounds and everyone knew about it.

I was too young to know the Marx Brothers, though later I was able to enjoy their classic movies. So when Groucho had a brother on his show I would see him for the first time. I vividly remember one program when Harpo was guest and he almost outdid Groucho. Chico too nearly stole the show from Groucho the night he was on. I remember Groucho would have his daughter on from time to time. She was about my age. I don't know what ever happened to her. As I recall she was not shy and had talent.

The "secret word" was a popular gimmick for the program. At first a young lady in abbreviated attire would come out when someone said the word, which the audience knew but the contestants did not. It took me a while to get used to the duck coming down which replaced the girl, even though as I remember she still appeared now and then.

George Fenneman was not only an elegant announcer but did well as straight man for Groucho. He was a quiet, unassuming person, very likable, who sometimes would have a clever comeback line when Groucho tried to embarrass him. He also announced for the popular "Dragnet" series and had a part in the horror classic "The Thing from Another World."

As Groucho stated, "No one goes away broke." There was a consolation price for the guests who lost if they answered a trick question, usually, "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?" although some did miss it. Groucho would keep asking silly questions until they got their money. Truly, no one ever went away broke.


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