Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Say the Secret Word and Win $100!

Groucho Marx made a name for himself as the smart-ass brother in a series of wacky movies in the 30's, in which he starred with his 3 brothers, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo.

But starting in 1947, he introduced himself to a new generation with a radio show called You Bet Your Life. It was basically a quiz show, but listeners tuned in more to hear Groucho crack wise with the contestants than for the Q and A. The show became a TV show on NBC in 1950 and was broadcast on both radio and TV through 1960.

The pre-quiz conversation had the look of a completely improvised chat, but in fact much of it was scripted. Of course, Groucho was free to stray from the script and often did.

In one legendary ad-lib, Groucho is said to have asked a woman why she had so many children. She replied it was because she loved children, to which Groucho replied "And I like a good cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while." Unfortunately, it appears that the story is just an urban legend. Groucho himself has denied that he ever said it. Too bad, because it's a pretty funny line.

The show had several later incarnations, but Groucho's show is the one people remember. Groucho Marx died in 1977 at the age of 87.

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