Talk:You Bet Your Life

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Charlotte Story[edit]

As I recall, The Groucho Show was not exactly a continuation of You Bet Your Life -- it sometimes contained other elements, such as a picture being flashed up for something like one-thirtieth of a second and then the contestants being called upon to name as many of the items shown in it as the could recall. This is really taxing my memory as it goes back to my earliest childhood. Can anyone help me on this?

Also, I have encountered this on "The Straight Dope" site:

The show in question was the one for November 17, 1947. This is the supposed transcript of the exchange upon learning that the contestant, a Mrs. Story, had twenty (not nineteen) children:

Groucho: Why do you have so many children?

Mrs. Story: Well, because I love children, and I think that's our purpose here on Earth, and I love my husband.

Groucho: I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.

Supposedly the only reason that this survives it that it was included on a album of outtakes that the DeSoto Automobile Company, then Groucho's sponsor, sent out to its dealers in 1950 as a Christmas present, and that none of the rest of the show survives, which seems to be the case of many of the shows, especially the eariler ones. Whether the reaction to this was the source of big laughs used later on to "sweeten" laughter in subsequent shows is not stated, but is one of those legendary "facts" that seems plausible. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rlquall (talkcontribs)

"The Groucho Show" was indeed the last season of "You Bet Your Life." There are shows in the DVD set and the syndication package in which Groucho says "Welcome, Welcome to the Groucho Show" instead of "Welcome, Welcome to You Bet Your Life." You are thinking of Groucho's next show, a year or so later, called "Tell It To Groucho." This was on CBS. It featured people coming and sitting on a livingroom couch and talking with Groucho. At the end of the segment, the guest would get the chance to win a prize by identifying a picture flashed on the screen. One would think it would have worked as well as YBYL, but it didn't.

There are parts of a show featuring a Mr. and Mrs. Story, who had 20 children, and Groucho jokes about how they remember which is which, etc. It is included in the DVD set that is currently in circulation. But the "I Love My Cigar" line isn't there. So far as anyone knows, it didn't survive. Also, the Mr. and Mrs. Story appearance was not in 1947, since the excerpt which does survive includes mention of DeSoto as the sponsor, and DeSoto was not the sponsor in 1947. --GrouchoRoss (talk) 03:48, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

I could swear that I've seen video of the 'cigar' incident. It's poor quality, of course, but the audience just about had seizures. It was definitely risque for the time. - Richard Cavell (talk) 10:25, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
According to Snopes, this never happened. If you think about it, highly unlikely. The show was scripted and pre-recorded. It never would have made it to a script without being rejected by censors, and even if he had said it, it never would have made it on to the air. According to Snopes, they recorded over an hour of conversations for each episode and cut it down to an hour for broadcast. Even if this was gut-busting funny, it would have been cut. --AlanK (talk) 19:09, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
The answer is even simpler than that: We know for a fact that Charlotte Story appeared on the RADIO show -- so anyone who "swears" they saw the alleged exchange between her and Groucho on TV is just misremembering (or making it up), because it happened well before the show went to TV and nobody filmed the radio broadcasts. Add to that the undisputed fact that everyone involved denied that it happened, and you pretty much have your answer. The show wasn't "scripted", BTW, at least not in the modern sense -- Groucho was given a list of salient facts about each contestant, so he would know what to ask questions about, but that was it. That's why they had to record lots of stuff and edit it down to a half-hour. As Groucho said himself in his memoir, YBYL succeeded where all his previous radio shows had failed because he was finally allowed to do what he did best -- ad lib. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 20:25, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Contestant Relations[edit]

I removed the section suggesting that the contestants were never couples. The first two episodes of season two of the radio show featured a pair of newlyweds and some dating youngsters.

Jerry Fielding[edit]

Jerry Fielding was one of the early musical directors of the show. He contributed to the book "The Secret Word is Groucho" :1976 (Groucho Marx/Hector Arce) a book about Groucho's quiz show. He tells how he was forced off the quiz show as bandleader due to the 50's Red Scare of the time (he was mentioned in the book "Red Channels"). Groucho sucummed to sponser's pressure to his regret. He apolgised to Fielding in the aforementioned book but was too overcome by shame to tell Fielding in person. Fielding later became a prolific film and TV composer ("Hogan's Heros","The Wild Bunch"). See Hector Arce biography "Groucho". M Bateman-Graham 14:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

How to combine shows that were on both radio and tv[edit]

The article ignores the radio show information while the TV show is covered. Can someone either add radio show information (at least the number of episodes, start date, stop date, network) to the article and infobox? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 6 May 2009 (UTC)


"The radio program was sponsored by Elgin American watches and compacts. "

True but incomplete - Elgin dropped out during the run of the radio show, and no, I don't remember if the show continued without a sponsor or another company came in.

The show went off line during its first year, because the Elgin company sold out of the product the show was promoting (!), and the Elgin company didn't see a reason to continue advertising. However, they had already picked it up for the following year. Elgin dropped sponsorship when it became such "expensive property" they couldn't afford it. DeSoto-Plymouth Dealers picked it up immediately. ("Life with Groucho")

'Cigar' incident is a myth.[edit]

See for full rebuttal. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

In this case gives no explanation. Since the show was prerecorded, it's possible it was not shown as part of regular scheduling. Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (talk) 13:53, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I remember seeing a documentary - I think it was "TVLand Myths and Legends" - that explained the cigar incident. It happened during the show's radio era. Groucho was making some light conversation with a contestant before the show in which he made the famous remark. People thought it was funny, so Groucho wanted to use it on the broadcast, but the producer wouldn't allow it. I don't know where to find any documentation for that story, but it does make sense. (talk) 18:00, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

        • It makes perfect sense that this was part of the joking around with Groucho prior to filming/recording...and so it is a case where something can be "true" and yet "not true" at the same time. Chesspride (talk) 06:13, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Hector Arce[edit]

As I recall, Hector Arce was a fully credited co-author on "The Secret Word Is Groucho," and not a ghost writer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by LCassamas (talkcontribs) 15:41, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Material added from "Life with Groucho"[edit]

I'm adding material and reworking article slightly to include the considerable detail in "Life with Groucho". It was written by Groucho's son (and apparently reviewed and approved by Groucho, since he comments in several places). The book was on the best seller list, and well-reviewed, e.g., by the "New York Times", so it would seem to be reliable. Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (talk) 13:53, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Why a Duck?[edit]

Does anyone know why a duck was used for revealing and celebrating the secret word? It seems an odd choice for a prop. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:33, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, I didn't see this until now. The duck was there to remind viewers of the classic Marx Brothers bits -- specifically a famous scene in The Cocoanuts. Groucho and Chico are discussing a map; Groucho mentions the presence of a *viaduct* between the mainland and a peninsula; Chico (in his standard role as an ethnic kid with poor English skills) thinks he is saying "Why a duck?" This leads to a long schtick involving "Why a chickens?," "Why a horses?," and on and on. There is a book -- long out of print but fairly common in used bookstores -- called Why A Duck (with a foreword by Groucho) which explains this, along with a lot of other Marx trivia, in greater detail. DoctorJoeE talk to me! 14:43, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

The reason for NBC holding on to ancillary rights of this version remains unknown to this day, (Concerning Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life")[edit]

I find it odd, but I guess not too odd, that a very famous American politician is not listed as a contestant on "You Bet Your Life". I recall an episode (re-run of course)where George Fenneman announces a male contestant as, " The young Senator from the state of Massachusetts, Mr. Jack Kennedy." Sure enough it was the future president to be, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I had seen this episode in the late '70's early '80's. So much controversy surrounds this man, as well as his entire family, that this episode may have "gotten lost" or others claim, never existed. It is my belief that this is why NBC is holding onto ancillary rights. Musicman89503 (talk) 07:33, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

That's an impressive speculative leap. But I'm more concerned with the woefully inadequate sourcing in this article. "The reason for NBC holding on to ancillary rights ... remains unknown to this day" is a prime example -- it is WP:OR -- a conclusion formed by a WP editor, not supported even in paraphrase by any source -- and worse, it is WP:WEASEL language, making a blanket statement from a limited/unsourced fact. We really need to verify that the statement is even true -- and with that verification we may discover that there is a reason after all! This is only one of many factoids in dire need of sourcing in this article. DoctorJoeE talk to me! 14:31, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

You're in the Picture connection?[edit]

The article for the Jackie Gleason megaflop series You're in the Picture at one point listed You Bet Your Life as a "related show." I have removed this reference as I cannot find any connection between the two, and the article for Picture makes no indication. The only points of relation I can find is that both aired on CBS (but Groucho's show only on CBS Radio) and both were hosted by well-known comics. Presumably they might have shared some behind the scenes personnel, but otherwise I can't find a connection. If there is one, please feel free to note it in the article for You're in the Picture. (talk) 15:24, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Pilot was on CBS, but first season was on ABC. Why?[edit]

This is something I noticed but there's no information on the page about it (or anywhere else). If anyone's heard the pilot/audition episode (airdate Sept 15, 1947) which is available on various sites... it was aired on CBS (the ending mentions Columbia Broadcasting System). But the first season debuted on ABC (on Oct 27th, 1947). Can anyone explain how this would happen? Did CBS decide they didn't want to make the show and sell the format to ABC? Perhaps I'm not understanding how the whole pilot process worked, maybe it was common practice for something to pilot on one network and then debut on another?? Yaguchi (talk) 03:42, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Not positive, but like many early TV shows, this show had a single sponsor. Frequently those sponsors had exclusive deals with one network or another. It's possible that they found another sponsor with another network that was willing to pay more for the show. --AlanK (talk) 19:09, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Copyright claims[edit]

The article claims that "most" episodes are in the public domain. That's possible, but I can't find any evidence to back this up, so I've removed the claim.--AlanK (talk) 19:09, 8 May 2015 (UTC)


Hi, I'm not sure if this is the correct avenue to suggest an addition to the You Bet Your Life page, but I wanted to add that my father, Edward T. Tyler, M.D., along with Hy Freedman and Howard Harris, were all writers for the show. My father actually wrote for the show when it was on the radio, and then continued writing for it in its early years on TV. In the paragraph that follows on your Wikipedia page, you mention that there were writers, but you do not identify them by name:

"After his signature introduction of "Here he is: the one, the only..." by Fenneman and finished by a thunderous "GROUCHO!" from the audience, Marx would be introduced to the music of "Hooray for Captain Spaulding", his signature song. After which, Groucho would be introduced to the contestants and engage in humorous conversation for a lengthy period of time where Groucho both improvised his responses and employed prepared lines written by the show's writers using pre-show interviews."

I thought perhaps you might want to identify the writers that I mentioned above by name. And you mention Bernie Smith as being a co-director with Robert Dwan, but his primary role was Head Writer. As you know, the writers were not credited as such (just listed as "Program Staff" in the credits) to maintain the impression that Groucho ad-libbed everything on the show. He did, in fact, ad-lib quite a bit, but nonetheless, scripts were prepared in advance for every episode. They included dialogue written for both the contestants and for Groucho. Many of the scripts are housed at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center45.49.177.121 (talk) 19:13, 17 August 2015 (UTC)Judy Tyler<daughter of Edward T. Tylerf>

I fear that, because the writers were never credited as such, they don't meet WP's notability guidelines. Furthermore, I don't don't see a reliable source for your information in the source material immediately at hand. (I'm not saying the information isn't true, but it's not sufficient for content to be true - it also has to be supported by a reliable published source.) I'll look at a few additional books tonight, at home. Others may disagree on notability, of course, and if it turns out that there is reliable sourcing to back up this information, it could be worth a sentence or two in the "game play" section. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 21:46, 17 August 2015 (UTC)