The Day My Grandfather Groucho and I Saved ‘You Bet Your Life’

“He’s right,” Jack Nicholson chimed in. “Groucho, that stuff is classic. Listen to your grandson. Let them send the reels to you.”

By Andy Marx at 9:49 am Tue, Mar 12, 2013

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes find it hard to imagine life without Netflix. Whether it’s watching all six seasons of “Lost” in a week or enjoying some cool documentary I otherwise never would’ve heard of, Netfix has, for better or worse, definitely become a part of my life. So, you can imagine my delight when I happened to discover Netflix had added the legendary ‘50s TV show, “You Bet Your Life” to its streaming service. The reason for my delight? The host of “You Bet Your Life” was none other than my grandfather, the one and only Groucho Marx.

It didn’t take long for me to devour all the episodes available on Netflix, and as I watched Groucho delivering his rapid-fire quips at the befuddled contestants, I couldn’t help thinking how amazing it was that I was sitting in the comfort of my den watching a TV show that made its debut in 1950, starring my grandfather.

But I also couldn’t stop thinking about how close every one of those classic episodes of “You Bet Your Life” came to being destroyed many years ago and how my grandfather and I managed to stop that from happening.

The year was 1973 and I was a 21-year-old right out of UCLA film school. Though most of my days were spent looking for a job, I did manage to squeeze in lunch with my 83-year-old grandfather at least once a week.

Lunches at my grandfather’s house in Beverly Hills in those days were usually full of surprises, especially since you never knew who might be there.

No longer out of the limelight, my grandfather was enjoying his status as a cultural icon now that such classic Marx Brothers films as “Duck Soup” and “A Night at the Opera” had been discovered by a whole new generation eager for something to go with the free-wheeling attitudes and politics of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Groucho and his brothers fit the bill perfectly and my grandfather was more than happy to oblige his new-found fans, many of them Hollywood celebrities. Among my favorite celebrity sightings at my grandfather’s house in those days were Alice Cooper and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

This particular day, my grandfather asked me to be ready to accompany him on the piano, since he planned to sing for the invited guests: Jack Nicholson, Elliott Gould and the great French mime, Marcel Marceau. As I said, you never knew who would arrive for lunch with Groucho.

And I was always happy to accompany my grandfather on the piano, as he made his way through such songs, as “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” and “Father’s Day.” Fortunately, I got some musical ability from my mother’s side of my family – my other grandfather was the legendary songwriter, Gus Kahn, who wrote such evergreens as “It Had to Be You,” “Makin’ Whoopee” and “Dream a Little Dream.”

I was the last to arrive that day and as I entered the dining room, Nicholson, Gould and Marceau were already seated.

As I took my seat next to Nicholson, he immediately raised his wine glass and offered a toast to my grandfather. As everyone lifted their glasses, Marcel Marceau turned to my grandfather and asked, “Groucho, if you don’t mind, is it okay if I mime the wine?

My grandfather nodded in approval and sure enough, Marceau, probably the greatest mime since Charlie Chaplin, proceeded to open a non-existent bottle of wine with a non-existent corkscrew, then pour the non-existent wine into a non-existent glass. Next, he lifted the glass to toast and then took an imaginary sip. I must admit, it was one of the greatest things I had ever seen, proving once more that lunch at my grandfather’s was always full of suprises.

As Nicholson began telling everyone about his latest movie, “The Last Detail,” which would be released in a few months, the phone rang and my grandfather, never one to have his lunch or a good story interrupted, asked me to answer it.

I walked into the kitchen and picked up the phone.

“Is Mr. Marx in?”, the voice at the other end said.

“Who’s calling?” I asked.

“I work at the NBC storage warehouse in Englewood Cliifs, New Jersey,” the man said. “We’ve got several boxes of 16mm reels of film from ‘You Bet Your Life’ and we were wondering if Mr. Marx wants any of it. If not, we’re going to destroy all of it tomorrow.”

“Destroy it?” I asked increduously. “Why would you do that?”

“We’re trying to clear space for the newer shows. There’s a lot of stuff from the ‘50s and ‘60s that we’re getting rid of. If Mr. Marx would like it, we’ll be happy to send all of the reels to him.”

I told the man to hang on and ran back into the dining room.

“Grandpa Groucho, there’s a man calling from the NBC warehouse in New Jersey, who says they’ve got several boxes of reels of ‘You Bet Your Life’ they’re going to destroy unless you want them.”

“Tell him to burn them for all I care,” my grandfather said, eliciting laughs from his guests. These days it was hard to tell if he was just doing his grouchy act for his invited audience or truly didn’t care.

“Grandpa, you don’t really want them doing the same thing they did to Oscar Levant’s show,” I said, referring to what had happened to all the copies of his good friend, Oscar Levant’s classic show from the ‘50s, “Information, Please,” when all of the kinescopes that existed were destoyed.

“He’s right,” Nicholson chimed in. “Groucho, that stuff is classic. Listen to your grandson. Let them send the reels to you.”

“Alright,” my grandfather said. “Maybe it’ll be fun to watch them again.”

Excited, I ran back and told the man to send the boxes to my grandfather’s house. And though my grandfather didn’t seem terribly excited about the prospect of getting a few boxes of 16mm prints, I couldn’t wait. My grandfather had a small screening room in his house with a 16mm projector and I figured I’d spend an afternoon watching the episodes that were now on their way to Beverly Hills.

As it turned out, it would take more than an afternoon to watch the episodes. Two weeks later, I got a call from my grandfather, who sounded more than a little angry.

“Get over here right now,” he growled. “There are five UPS trucks in front of my house. Each one of them is filled with boxes of 16mm reels of “You Bet Your Life.”

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.

A month later, in early 1974, after checking the contents of the over 500 boxes and doing a little investigating, I had figured out that NBC had not only sent every reel of the original “You Bet Your Life” show, but also all the copies of “The Best of Groucho,” a syndicated version that included the show’s greatest episodes culled from the show’s original run.

Realizing there was a treasure trove of classic TV sitting in my grandfather’s house, I had a hunch that maybe other people besides myself would be interested in seeing some, if not all of it. After all, interest in Groucho was at a fever pitch, as the honors and accolades poured in from around the world -- the Marx Brothers were even set to receive an honorary Academy Award that year.

It turned out I was right. The next day, I, along with John Guedel, the show’s creator and producer were sitting in an office at local station KTLA, where we pitched the head of programming our idea of running “The Best of Groucho” in one of their latenight timeslots. Though the executive loved the idea, he had one demand: Someone was going to have to go through every show, so they would have an idea of what they were running.

That someone turned out to be me. As I said earlier, I had been looking for a job and now I had one. I was paid $150 a week and my duties consisted of spending eight hours a day at my grandfather’s house, watching as many episodes as possible and archiving every one. As an added bonus, I ate lunch with my grandfather every day and he even took time to watch several episodes a day himself. I never told anyone, but I probably would’ve paid them $150 a a week to let me do it.

Two months later, “The Best of Groucho” appeared on KTLA, the same week my grandfather received his honorary Academy Award, and was soon running on hundreds of stations throughout the country. Since then, the shows have been released on VHS, DVD and now the various streaming services for many millions to enjoy, all because of a phone call from some guy working in a warehouse in New Jersey asking if we wanted him to send us some 16mm reels of “You Bet Your Life.”

Am I glad I happened to answer that phone call that day? What else can I say but, “you bet your life,” I am.

Andy Marx is a writer and photographer living in Los Angeles. He can reached through his website, andymarx.com. Check out his Jazz Tribute CD to his other grandfather, Gus Kahn.

Published 9:49 am Tue, Mar 12, 2013

101 Responses to “The Day My Grandfather Groucho and I Saved ‘You Bet Your Life’”

  1. ndlxs says:

    What an incredible story;  Andy, you’re a lucky guy to have such impressive grandparents, and they are both lucky to have a farsighted grandson.  Our culture thanks you. 

  2. Adrian says:

    In the 70’s I watched You Bet Your Life on MetroMedia channel 11 from Los Angeles — I loved it — it’s still one of my all time favorite shows.

    I saw a clip from an episode that never aired in which Groucho was interviewing a beautiful young woman who said that she wanted to be an actress and a mother. He said (paraphrasing) “That won’t be easy.  How do you plan to go about that?”  

    Contestant:  “Well, if I keep both feet on the ground and stay focused I think I can.”

    Groucho:  “If you keep both feet on the ground you’ll never become a mother.”

  3. Bender says:

    Great story, Andy. And thanks for saving a bit of our culture and some of your grandfather’s greatness. 

  4. A long chain of people had to be there to preserve those episodes, and thank goodness you were able to keep the chain from breaking. What a story.

  5. Ted Newsom says:

    Wonderful piece, wonderful anecdote.  And it’s high-kickin’.

  6. SedanChair says:

    MARXISTS

    (great story)

  7. DavidCulberson says:

    SO AWESOME.  Thank you for your part in keeping cultural history from being lost!!

  8. futuristicky says:

    This reminds me of Tom Bissell’s essay on how arbitrary it is which literature survives.  It’s crazy to think how much of our cultural history depends on one person’s decision to preserve something instead of throwing it away. http://bostonreview.net/BR25.2/bissell.html

  9. jiminnc says:

    The caption on the picture says that it is the author’s son with Groucho.  But it’s the author as a young man, right?

    • Roose_Bolton says:

      Nope, says it is Groucho’s grandson. The “author” the caption is referring to is Andy’s father, Groucho’s son.

    • amarx says:

      Sorry for the confusion — The picture is from a book written by my father.  So, yes, that’s me, the grandson of Groucho.

  10. TWX says:

    A little heavy on the name-dropping (especially of those that weren’t in attendance on the particular days of importance) but amusing.  And yes, the order-something-small-and-receive-something-massive trope is a staple of comedy…

    • amarx says:

      We name-droppers refer to that as life imitating art.  Or is it art imitating life.  Not sure, too busy dropping names!

      • Rich Drees says:

        You should never name drop. Sting told me that.

      • Fnordius says:

        Well, make sure you pick them back up again.

      • Jim Lillie says:

         History will thank you Andy. We will never know all of the art we have lost over the years just by saying “Nah, toss it. Its old an no one is going to care about it anyway.”

      • I once had dinner at Richard Marx’s home…I didn’t make the connection until I went to the bathroom, and lining the halls were pictures of his Dad, Harpo. A true “DOH!” moment.

      • WIlliam Colleton says:

        Mr Marx,
        i’ll never forget what a thrill it was back in the 70’s when Universal the curators of paramount’s early film library
        to have found “animal crackers”   and seeing it on the big screen with monkey business   now that I have my own screening room and 16mm prints of your grandfathers and uncles work  life is good   would love to hear any antidotes you may have of chico and harpo

        Billc

    • Snig says:

      As a fan of Groucho’s work, it’s interesting to hear stories of his life and who his friends were.  

      • TWX says:

         Ah, but if it were a broad story about Groucho Marx’s life, that would be a different matter.  We’re sold on reading it as a story about a young man helping save a portion of his famous grandfather’s body of work.  It’s necessary and appropriate to mention who’s in attendance when the critical decision to the story is made, but it’s not necessary to go into details about other lunches with other people to the extent of naming those other people.

        I’m not criticizing the entire story.  You don’t see comments like, “I want my five minutes back!”  I’m simply pointing out some unnecessary vanity.  The *point* of the story is interesting, especially in light of how many TV shows are wholly or partially lost because of this same kind of cleaning-house.  Knowing that even when the original performer originally would have let the programs be destroyed and that it took a third-party (or a couple of third parties in this case) to prevent that is interesting.

        • kringlebertfistyebuns says:

          How utterly tedious.

        • JohnMc says:

           Actually, I’ll be a little pedantic and argue that those other acquaintances are a crucial part of the story as well.  The key cultural context is that there was a huge upswelling in interest in all things Marx brothers at the time, which is essential to understanding the last part of the story.  But the stream of young celebrities through Groucho’s house earlier in the story sets the stage for that.

          So there!

    • David Speller says:

      How gracious of you to deign to comment on the post m’lord. We shall endeavour to meet your exacting standards in the future.

    • jon_anon says:

      Nonsense, apart from the people who were there on the day in question he mentioned just his two favorite guests. Entirely necessary to get across the kind of atmosphere there must have been, and amarx would have been quite justified in giving even more examples of his grandfather’s famous guests.

    • D3 says:

      TWX, are you saying that you’d rather not have known that Jack Nicholson, Elliott Gould and Marcel Marceau were having lunch at Groucho’s house?

      • TWX says:

        No, that’s not what I’m saying.  I’m saying that it’s unnecessary to tell us that Vince Fernier and Ronnie Wood had visited at other times.  It would have been fine to have said something like, “Lunch with Grandpa was usually interesting, with the stars and celebrities that would drop by, and this day was no exception…” then go in to those that were there…

    • JohnMc says:

       Oh, come now, the name-dropping in this story is loads of fun!  “So I went to my grampa’s house to have lunch this one time, and there was Alice Cooper…”  That one nugget *alone* is worth the five minutes it took to read this.

    • mattand says:

      Strongly disagree about the name dropping. Not only is it a blast, it shows that Jack Nicholson in part helped save these shows.

  11. Spinkter says:

    Great story.

  12. “You Bet Your Life’ was shot and finished on film. No kinescopes would have been needed except for bicycling shows with commercials integrated into them to stations that for some reasons didn’t take the network feed. Am rather surprised that John Guedel didn’t keep the 35 mm show masters himself. Be that as it may, what a great thing to have done.

  13. Stefan Jones says:

    They’ll never call YOU shnorra!

    Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

  14. freds4hb says:

    That is AMAZING!!

  15. Stephen Rees says:

    What is missing is a link to a site where the shows can be seen! Does this mean I have to resubscribe to Netflix? I assume that the copyright was renewed when these shows were rebroadcast.

  16. anwaya says:

    The scene with the UPS trucks is like an extension to the Stateroom scene in “A Night at the Opera”. Did Groucho happen to ask the drivers if they had any hardboiled eggs?

  17. Great story, Andy and a big shout out from a fellow UCLA grad, (’71), who also spent a lot of quality time in Melnitz 1409. 

    Those late night showings on KTLA were wonderful and helped me keep my sanity through grad school. 

  18. tubesorsand says:

    Thank you, Andy, for taking that call and saving such treasures for all of us! One of my favorite memories of hearing your grandfather’s work is from a recording of the “Railroad Hour” NBC Radio Program (1949?) where Groucho was in their production of “Lady Be Good”. My cassette recording of a re-broadcast of that show is only a partial one, but it’s comedic gold from start to finish.

  19. billstewart says:

    So what’s the copyright status of “stuff NBC was going to throw away”?  Do they still own it, or does the Marx family?

  20. eldritch says:

    It’d be great to have it in the public domain. Shame it won’t be until the corporations have squeezed every last penny they can out of it.

  21. And you kinda suspect that the guy who called soft peddled the number of boxes because he personally didn’t want the film destroyed even though bosses told him to make room.  Heck, if the bosses knew how much that they were about to pay in shipping it never would have happened.

  22. Wow, a wonderful story! Grateful you got that call. I was privileged to meet your grandfather on several occasions. I went to Beverly Hills High School (class of ’74) and had an after school job at the Coffee Bean on Beverly Drive. Your father was a frequent visitor and he always showed up with his voluptuous nurse. One day as I filled his order for espesso beans, he asked me how tall the building under construction across the street was to be. I answered “five stories”. He said that’s a likely story. So one of my greatest thrills is having been told a joke by Groucho Marx!

  23. Christopher says:

    Knowing that some real treasures of television have been lost or were simply destroyed it’s wonderful to read this and to learn a story of how at least one genuine television treasure was almost lost but miraculously preserved.

  24. Lance says:

    Big fan since I was 12 or 13 or so. I’m 60 now. I’ve used his lines at work, for years. (I’m a nurse.) I love it when people just stare at me, wondering, “Where the hell did that come from?”  
    “Can we all gather around so he won’t recover?”  Beautiful.

  25. Platos Cave says:

    Great story!  If only they’d called you before they destroyed all of Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show”.

  26. William says:

    So where did the reels eventually get stored? Did KTLA end up storing them? Or were they forever part of the house?

  27. A Night in Casablanca is one of my top 10 movies. I’m currently working through “Essential Groucho” on my bus commute ever day. I’ll be adding You Bet to my Netflix queue shortly.

  28. Nagurski says:

    You, sir, are a prince among men.

  29. Fred Kahl says:

    Amazing, Amazing, awesome story! You deserve a medal for this!

  30. Andrea says:

    Favorite tidbit: you called your grandfather “Grandpa Groucho.”

    That’s just wonderful. A great story with a great result. I’ll have to watch “You Bet Your Life” now.

  31. Brett Leveridge says:

    Thanks, Andy — wonderful story. I loved your grandfather in an almost mystical way (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds), and I cried my eyes out when he passed away. My most prized possession is an autographed photo that I received from him in answer to a birthday card I sent him on what proved to be his last birthday.

    I also met your father once in NYC while attending a matinee performance of an off-Broadway production of Groucho: A Life in a Revue. He was a quite a talented man in his own right, and I very much enjoyed meeting him.

    • millie fink says:

      Have you read any published collections of Groucho’s letters? They’re wonderful — warm and often hilarious. I remember him complaining in one while on vacation that the seaside town he was in was so boring that the “tide went out the other day and never came back.”

      • Brett Leveridge says:

        I’ve read every book there is about the Marx Brothers, as far as I know. More than twenty of them, for sure (and all of Groucho’s books).

        I also got to communicate a bit with Harpo’s son, Bill, who (without me asking, mind you) awarded me my own Marxian nickname: Bretto.

        One of my proudest moments.

  32. yumtacos says:

    Andy, if you write a book about your life with Groucho et. al., I will read it. I’ve read your grandpa’s autobiography twice and loved it.

    Your dad’s book ( I assume – or your uncle’s?) looks good, and I have a request in for it at the library.

    But there’s always room for more Groucho-iana!

  33. SkillSets says:

    The YOU BET YOUR LIFE shows have been marketed since 2003 on DVD by Shout! Factory; DVD copyright is by the National Broadcasting Company, Inc. Of course Groucho’s family [Groucho Marx Productions] controls his name and likeness. Call it a co-production. 528 shows were produced. 

  34. Wait… are you saying that every TV episode exists?!  If so, will they be getting a complete DVD release?  Probably season by season, but still..!

  35. noah django says:

    reminds me of the interviews I read with early California university computer scientists and how they had to share data.  since the networking hadn’t quite been worked out yet, the most efficient option was to drive stacks of tape-reels back and forth.  “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes,” they said.

    your grandpa’s house was like a big-ol’ hard-drive and you were the processor.  when someone down the line digitized all those shows, the distribution became the internet rather than UPS.  neat.

    I love those shows.  thanks dude.

    link semi-related:
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/380/did-groucho-marx-utter-a-famous-double-entendre-ad-lib-on-the-air

  36. chgoliz says:

    Amazingly, all the shows on those 500 boxes of film can now be stored on one memory stick.  There’s no excuse anymore for this sort of near-miss to happen.

  37. MattAtDoyle says:

    Great story. This is exactly how Terry Jones saved all the episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The BBC was about to erase all the existing tapes of MPFC. Someone at the storage facility called Terry to see if he wanted to rescue the tapes. He did and, ironically, the Monty Python series went on to become the BBC’s most profitable product to date.

  38. It’s a wonderful story remembering a true achievement. Thank you for sharing it and for saving the films.

  39. Was one of those 70s kids that was way into the Marx Brothers– had many Groucho scenes memorized and when YBYL came back in syndication, I watched it faithfully. Thanks Andy Marx. You did good. And three cheers for George Fenneman.

  40. James Steeber says:

    They were straight films, not Kinney’s, as far as I can tell.

    • Yes, Groucho explains in one of his memoirs that they shot live onto film, which was unusual in the day.

      • Brett Leveridge says:

        In large part so that Groucho had room to stretch out his riffs. Not all of his cracks were improvised — the show had writers — but because they filmed at length and edited down to half an hour later in the process, a lot of impromptu comedy magic was created.

      • Jon says:

        John Guidel did that with both his NBC shows, the other being Art Linkletter’s “People Are Funny” WPIX in New York used to air both shows back-to-back in mid-afternoons in the 1960s, while the return of “You Bet Your Life” in the 1970s ended up on WNEW at 11 p.m. weeknights.

        (NBC had an obsessive fetish about dumping old shows under their ownership. Not only did Steve Allen’s original Tonight Show get destroyed, but also Jack Parr’s and most of Johnny Carson’s New York-based shows. Even as they were trying to dump Groucho’s by-then 13-years-off-the-network shows in 1974, they were also still eliminating shows still on the air — copies of the original 1964-74 episodes of Jeopardy are virtually impossible to find.)

  41. Andy, I remember reading a short version of this in one of your grandfather’s autobiographies, where I believe he claimed to have invented the re-run, too (which he probably did).

    I grew up watching You Bet Your LIfe in the 1970s in California! I loved the show, and thank you for helping your grandfather preserve them.

  42. robbins_mitchell says:

    Groucho: “How many children do you have?”

    Contestant: “I have 10 children,Groucho”

    Groucho: “Why so many?”

    Contestant:”I love my wife”

    Groucho: “:Well,I love my cigar…but I take it out every once in a while”

  43. Brett Leveridge says:

    Those interested in learning more about You Bet Your Life might wish to track down “The Secret Word Is Groucho,” a 1977 memoir focusing on the show that Groucho coauthored with Hector Arce. It’s out of print, I think, but is readily available (and at popular prices) from the usual used-book sources.

    • Rafael Dwan says:

      You could also read my Grandfather’s book about directing the show (from Radio through Television) As Long as They’re Laughing. http://www.amazon.com/As-Long-Theyre-Laughing-Groucho/dp/188766436X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1363238246&sr=8-2&keywords=as+long++as+they%27re+laughing

  44. JohnMc says:

    Love this story — thank you.  It’s timely for us, since my kids (9 and 11) have just discovered the Marx Bros.  We watched A Night at the Opera recently, and just this weekend Duck Soup.  The kids loooved both films, and retell their favorite parts over and over, cracking up each time.

    This stuff ages very well indeed.

  45. cstatman says:

    thank you for sharing this wonderful story.  Your great-uncle Harpo saved my life once.   and Im eternally indebted to your family.   thank you for this wonderful wonderful story.

  46. demoncat_4 says:

    cool story i can just picture groucho reaction when all the boxes arrived being one of wtf. but also nice that a piece of not only marx brothers history but tv history is still around.

  47. super cool Mr Marx- the love and wonder of your relationship with your grandfather shines through this amazing and lovely essay! Thank you!

  48. Kimmo says:

    Great work, Andy : D

    I recall recently seeing an anecdote you posted in the comments on some article here, and thinking what a lucky bastard you are : )

    Thanks for thinking of the rest of us. Say, have you any ambition to write a book? I’d read it.

  49. Millard Fillmore says:

    WPIX in New York ran “The Best of Groucho” every day during the 1960s, and I watched it as a kid.  I loved the bit about Jack Nicholson having had even a small part in saving this classic show.  And all those UPS trucks showing up with all those boxes at Groucho’s house?  Just perfect, perfect art.  Thanks for the article.

  50. Bird666 says:

    I’d say this whole article is the emotional equivalent of saying the secret word and collecting, what was it, $100–great read and what a hero you are, Andy Marx!

  51. fuzzo says:

    Thanks so much for saving them. My grandson and I share a special bond anchored firmly in being nuts about your amazing grandfather hosting “You Bet Your Life.” 

  52. David Hirsh says:

    My grandfather was one of those contestants, when I was in elementary school.  I remember taking the day off from school to watch.  This was long before recording devices existed.

  53. Fools Chaos says:

    What an amazing story Andy! I loved Groucho and It’s wonderful that thanks to your very farsighted efforts we have this show available to watch today :) I will be checking this out on netflix soon :)

  54. D Levy says:

    Great story!  The only thing that surprises me is that you bothered to ask Groucho first!  What answer was there BESIDES “send them to me!”???  [P.S., however it happened, I'm thrilled to pieces that it happened!  Huge fan here... even named my son after Groucho! (middle name:  Julius).  Thanks for sharing this enviable story, Andy!]

  55. Can you imagine someone saying after Leonardo da Vinci died “if no one wants this ‘Mona Lisa’ painting, we’re going to get rid of it”.  How many works of art, musical scores, and other forms of human expression have been lost because there was no one to take ownership of preserving them?
    I remember watching the reruns of “You Bet Your Life” when I was young, and how funny they were.  Great job Andy!!!

  56. Rich Volpe says:

    Andy, I know all the Marx Bros. movies were originally stage plays.  I’m very involved with our local community theatre, and always wondered who holds the rights to those plays.  I think it would be a gas to stage one of their classics.

    • Brett Leveridge says:

      Only the first two movies — The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers — were originally plays. The rest were written as movies (though, beginning with A Night at the Opera, the brothers often went on tour to fine-tune certain scenes in front of live audiences before filming commenced).

  57. Ed says:

    Makes you wonder what other classics got destroyed because there wasn’t enough room for the film print in a warehouse somewhere. And to think that those 5 trucks of prints would fit on a couple hard disks now.

  58. Thank you so much for saving and cataloging everything.  We are all funnier thanks to your foresight.

    Lots of kinescopes were destroyed to get the silver.  I lament that we lost a lot of great programs and sports broadcasts from the same period. 

  59. Rafael Dwan says:

    Andy, your Grandpa and mine worked together (it was very strange logging on to Netflix and seeing his name under “new additions”)! Have you ever seen his book As Long as They’re Laughing about directing Groucho in You Bet Your Life and a few stage runs?

    • amarx says:

      So you must be Bob Dwan’s granddaughter — that’s cool.  Yes, I have seen his book — very cool.

      • Katie Huet says:

        Hi Andy, I’m Bob Dwan’s youngest daughter. Raphael is his grandson. My dad died in 2005. There was a time we were trying to find out what to do with some old film rolls. Are you interested in more?

  60. Mr. Marx, there is nothing else I can say to this but: Thank you.

  61. Gary Squires says:

    Andy thank you with all of the others for getting this work saved. I remember reading one of your grandfather’s first books after running across it in the library, “Groucho and Me”, in my teens and having never laughed so hard untill tears formed over some of the stories he told. I especially enjoyed the one about him and some of his “buddies” going camping. The imagery of some parts of the story were priceless and told in his typical oneliner style.

  62. 16mm?  So what happened to the original 35mm prints that were aired by NBC during the “first run”?

  63. Les Toil says:

    This is one of the greatest stories EVER! Not that it would matter to anyone, but Groucho Marx is my all-time favorite human being in history–bar none.You answering that phone and being there to give your opinion to your grandfather was nothing less than a blessing from above. And what a surreal array of lunch guests! Nicholson, Gould–Marcel Marceau!!–with The Great One at the head of the table?? WOWWW! Thanks for sharing–and thanks for the heads-up on the Netflix news. So great!

  64. What an absolutely charming story! Bravo to you Andy. And did you catch my name? It wouldn’t be the 1st time I have had some one sing that line, Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?

    Lydia The Tattooed Lady.

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