During the Great Depression, The Marx Brothers made America laugh when the country needed it most, and by the end of WWII were winding down their movie careers. But while Chico and Harpo were getting too old for physical slapstick comedy, Groucho’s witty mind was still razor sharp. In 1947 ABC radio debuted You Bet Your Life, a weekly quiz show hosted by Marx and his smooth, yet amusingly un-hip announcer George Fennemen.
In this set, we meet folks like comedian Ernie Kovacs, boxer Archie Moore, Gary Cooper’s mom (who is a scream) as well as a host of less famous, but no less interesting, figures. And speaking of figures, there are a few of those buxom young lasses scattered about who bring out the lecherous best in Groucho, and the double-entendres fly with abandon.
It’s also interesting to see how the rules of the quiz, the prize money and contestants’ expectations changed over the years. In the early episodes, guests were lucky to walk away with ten dollars, and the ones who did were giddy with excitement. In later years, the grand prize was $10,000, a staggering sum for 1959. Yes, it’s old. Yes, it’s dated. Some of it’s just plain weird. But for escapist belly laughs with a history lesson thrown into the mix, Groucho fans will be mighty glad these lost episodes turned up.