How “You Bet Your Life” Was Saved

I have a few DVDs of this show in my collection. I could watch them all day. Groucho Marx was awesome in them, and I almost want to get a Netflix subscription just to watch more.

Still, there is a story behind how the show didn’t get destroyed, and Groucho’s grandson tells the tale. A warehouse in NJ — not a half hour from where I live, I imagine — shipped the reels to Groucho rather than destroying them. Groucho didn’t realize quite how many reels there were:

I rushed over to my grandfather’s house and sure enough, there were five UPS trucks parked in front. Each driver was wheeling dozens of boxes of film into the house.

“Where would you like us to put all of this?” one of the drivers asked me. “There are over 500 boxes and each box contains ten reels of film.”

5,000 reels of film, I thought to myself, as I watched the small army of UPS drivers putting boxes in any empty space they could find, including a now-vacated bedroom that once belonged to Groucho’s last wife from whom he was now divorced. I couldn’t help thinking this was beginning to resemble a scene from a Marx Brothers film, as boxes of film were stacked to the ceiling, literally taking up entire rooms. I also thought back to the man from NBC, who told me there were “a few boxes of film,” an understatement if ever there was one.

By the time the UPS drivers left later that day, my grandfather’s house – which was quite large – was filled from end to end with boxes of “You Bet Your Life” reels. And even though I knew my grandfather was angry, I was grateful that we had managed to save “You Bet Your Life” from extinction by NBC.