Groucho Marx

A. Joseph Ross
Sun Aug 22 00:35:29 EDT 2004

On 21 Aug 2004 at 0:54, Brian Vita wrote:

> Does anyone know if this show is available anywhere to hear?  It sounds
> like it'd be a hoot.
I'm told that the routine between Groucho and Bob Hope, lasting about 10 minutes, is 
included in a recently-issued DVD of episodes of "You Bet Your Life."  Since I don't have a 
DVD player yet, I haven't checked it out.  I'd love to hear it myself.

"You Bet Your Life" actually benefited from being on ABC, even though it was a smaller 
network.  In the "Golden Age," the major radio networks were adamant about doing all shows 
live.  Bing Crosby, who wanted to pre-record his show, left NBC for ABC because, to get a 
star of his stature, ABC was willing to let him pre-record his show.  

With that precedent established, "You Bet Your Life" had no trouble getting ABC to agree to 
let them pre-record.  That gave them two benefits:  They were able to record for about 45 
minutes and edit down to an interesting half hour.  Also, Groucho, who was supposed to say 
whatever came into his head, didn't want to have to worry about whether what he said was fit 
for broadcast.

Originally, YBYL was pre-recorded by transcription.  Then, when magnetic tape became 
available, Bing wanted to use it.  ABC was concerned about the financial stability of Ampex, 
the company that had developed magnetic tape recording by reverse-engineering captured 
German equipment.  So Bing wrote a check for $50,000 to Ampex.  While obtaining 
magnetic tape equipment for Bing's show, ABC also bought a recorder for YBYL.

By the time YBYL moved to CBS, it was already a hit show, and CBS wanted it enough to 
take it pre-recorded.  When it went to television, it was always filmed, so that this system 
could be continued.

A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
 15 Court Square, Suite 210       
Boston, MA 02108-2503           

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