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You Bet Your Life - Old Time Radio

You Bet Your Life

Capitalizing on the grand success of the Marx Brothers vaudeville, Broadway and film successes of the 1930's and '40's, the entertainment value of You Bet Your Life was found more in the clever banter between host Groucho Marx, the contestants and the announcer than in the actual quiz. The program was a showcase for Groucho's sharp mind and quick witticisms.

The "secret word" bonus was a mainstay feature of the show, and even today, we might hear someone playfully say in their best Groucho impression, "Say the secret word and win $50." Contestants were carefully preselected and matched with each other to make the most lively potentially ironic, provocative or hilarious pairing. The show attracted quirky, colorful, interesting people, and Groucho took full advantage of this to make the interview portion of the show lively spontaneous entertainment. Occasionally, Groucho found opportunities to make comments that revealed his open-minded stance on social justice issues, such as racial tolerance, for instance. The show's straightforward design allowed for it to be broadcast simultaneously on radio and television.

Contestants selected from a group of categories, and depending on the number of questions they answered correctly, they might be eligible to compete for a jackpot cash prize. If they failed to answer any question correctly, Groucho would ask them a throwaway question, such as "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb" so that every contestant walked away with some cash.

There are 118 shows in our collection! Date Aired
Audition Show August 15, 1947
Secret Word - Head April 7, 1949
Secret Word - Chair October 5, 1949
Secret Word-Smile October 12, 1949
Secret Word-Dust December 7, 1949
Secret Word-Clock October 19, 1949
Secret Word-Radio October 26, 1949
Secret Word-Shoe November 2, 1949
Secret Word-Ink November 9, 1949
Secret Word-Grass November 16, 1949
Secret Word-Sky November 23, 1949
Secret Word-Window November 30, 1949
Secret Word-Hair December 14, 1949
Secret Word-Chair December 21, 1949
Secret Word-Name December 28, 1949
Secret Word-Tree January 4, 1950
Secret Word-Milk January 11, 1950
Secret Word-Spoon January 18, 1950
Secret Word-Air February 1, 1950
Secret Word-Bread February 8, 1950
Secret Word-Sugar February 15, 1950
Secret Word-Table February 22, 1950
Secret Word-Door March 1, 1950
Secret Word-Heart March 8, 1950
Secret Word-Water March 15, 1950

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