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You Bet Your Life (quiz, with Groucho Marx)

     (NBC Primetime, 1950 - 1961;
      Summer Rerun/Syndication title: "The Best of Groucho";
      aka: "The Groucho Marx Show");

     [A Sequel series was: "Tell It To Groucho" (CBS, 1962), which see;

      The Marx Brothers madcap comedy team of Groucho, Chico, Harpo and
      originally Zeppo had been a familiar mainstay of theatrical
      motion pictures throughout the 1930s and early 1940s;

      But their slapstick-vaudeville humor had a visual component that
      was hard to translate to the first broadcast medium of radio; A
      couple of radio series on which Groucho appeared made that point
      apparent;

      Still, the irrepresible talents of Groucho were obvious, and 
      low-budget TV producer John Guedel finally found a format in 
      which Groucho's talent for spontaneous humor could be showcased
      under the guise of hosting a silly quiz show;

      Part of the ingredients which made it a success were the well-
      chosen contestants who often were characters themselves, who 
      became foils for Groucho's wit as they were first interviewed
      and then attempted to answer quiz questions for meager prizes 
      Guedel's show offered; In some cases, people who were promoting
      a curious book or seeking publicity were brought on -- if they
      had enough quirky characteristics to provide fodder for humor;

      One of the show's oddball features was "Say The Secret Word",
      which was announced to the audience prior to the show; If any
      contestant happened to utter this word, they would win extra
      prize money; to announce this, a silly looking stuffed
      duck (who bore a striking resemblance to Groucho) would be
      lowered from the ceiling and the band would launch into a
      raucus rendition of "Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends" (a
      parody song based upon the trio section of John Philip 
      Sousa's march "The Stars and Stripes Forever")

      Since some of the people brought on as contestants and foils
      for Groucho's rapier wit were not of the brightest mental
      capacity; if they failed to answer many of the simple questions
      on the quiz, Groucho would often demonstrate the show had a
      heart by asking an final obvious question like "Who is buried in
      Grant's Tomb?" just so the contestant might win $25 as a kind
      of consolation prize; if they failed to even provide the answer
      to the final obvious question, often Groucho would give the prize
      money to them anyway just so they wouldn't leave empty handed 
      for being humiliated on the show, and Groucho would thank them
     "for being such a good sport"...]


Theme 1: "Hooray For Captain Spaulding" (from the 1928 musical "Animal Crackers")

    [from the Marx Brothers Broadway musical of 1928, and the
     subsequent 1930 film version; This was Groucho's signature THEME
     on radio. It was incorporated in various ways into Themes for
     both the radio and TV series known as "The Groucho Show" and/or
    "You Bet Your Life", and "The Best Of Groucho." This melody found
     its way in part or whole in arrangements by Billy May, Jerry 
     Fielding, and later Groucho's long-time bandleader John Brunker
     ("Jack") Meakin...even though they combined it with original
     melodies of their own.

     Billy May had supplied arrangements begining in November, 1947
     for Groucho's radio show, some of which may have been part of the
     library used for the TV series...May sent an audio letter to
     the author of a discography "The Music Of Billy May" by Jack
     Mirtle, in which May quoted producer John Guedel as saying when
     they first met: "I don't think we need a band at all, but the
     sponsor thinks a band will make the stage look better for the
     studio audience, so HOW LITTLE will it cost?" May continued,
     sarcastically, "That got us off to a good start right away."
     He concluded, "Needless to say, I didn't last very long" [as 
     Music Director on the radio show]; May was soon replaced by 
     Jerry Fielding as music director.

     At first, when the TV series debuted, it used a recorded opening 
     fanfare and upbeat "show-biz" style End Title THEME for 39 
     episodes. These two cues were supplied by Alexander Laszlo's 
     "Structural Music Library." Laszlo was a transplanted Hungarian 
     who had scored some films in Germany before World War II. After
     he emigrated to the U.S. he specialized in low budget music
     scoring services which he recorded in Stuttgart, Germany and
     re-cycled for "tracking purposes." The fact his music was recorded
     outside got around the U.S. Musician's union requirement for 
     live musicians -- at least for TV shows pre-produced on film
     (see THEME 2);

     The second season someone must have persuaded penny-pinching
     producer John Guedel there needed to be a live band, at least
     for TV. So Jerry Fielding was brought in to lead it and arrange
     musical cues for the 1951 - 1952 season. A theme he co-composed
     with Sid Robin used the "Hooray For Captain Spaudling" motif
     (Groucho's signature from the film "Animal Crackers") only
     during a short musical introduction for the opening. The 
     Fielding-Robin Theme quickly segued into a nice original 
    "show-biz" style tune which is associated with DeSoto sponsorship. 
     This theme was used behind the DeSoto commercial opening
     film and the show's End Credits thru 1953 (see THEME 3 below.)

     But Fielding was having troubles during this period -- he was
     unfortunately blacklisted in the McCarthy era. He left the
     show when it was suggested his political troubles might cause
     problems for Groucho, although it was never clear how any so-
     called subversive message might have gotten across by his
     "conducting fanfares" on the show, as he put it. He wasn't to
     find steady work again for years. But eventually he did.

     In 1953 his replacement was hired -- the former Music Director 
     for "The Great Gildersleeve" radio series -- Jack Meakin; At
     first even Meakin was suspect as not being completely "cleared"
     by the House Un-American Activities Committee. But eventually he
     was cleared, so he was given the green light to become the music
     director, and remained Groucho's bandleader until the end...(he
     also worked for Groucho and Guedel on the later 1962 CBS series 
    "Tell It To Groucho".)

     After Fielding left, while Meakin was still being "cleared", a 
     couple of other pre-recorded themes were used -- a melody by
     the songwriters Harry Tobias and Stan Myers. Then when DeSoto
     started licensing the Gershwin tune "It's De-Lovely" for their
     ad campaign and radio/TV jingles, this tune was the Groucho theme.
     The person who arranged it has not as yet been identified.

     Eventually, after the DeSoto sponsorship ended, Meakin incorporated
    "Hooray For Captain Spaulding" into a theme he arranged -- called
    "You Betcha Life." He composed a nice original "B" Theme bridge
     for saxophones. This was used for an opening animation which he
     wnamed "Groucho And The Wolf" on cue sheets. The cartoon featured
     a sly cartoon Groucho leering and raising his eyebrows; The
     Meakin "B" theme was  incorporated with "Hooray For Captain 
     Spaulding" into a THEME medley so succesfully now that most 
     people think that Meakin's original saxophone section is part 
     of "Hooray For Captain Spaulding" which it is not. See more 
     below under THEMEs 6 and 7.]

     Composers: words and music by
                Bert Kalmar (ASCAP), and
                Harry Ruby (ASCAP)

     Original Publishers: T. B. Harms and Co. (ASCAP)

     1998 Publishers: Harms, Inc. (ASCAP)
                        c/o Warner Brothers, Inc.
                        of Los Angeles, CA

     Composition Date: 1928

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings:
            CD - "Television's Greatest Hits (Vol. 4): 
                  Black and White Classics" (1996)
                  TVT Records TVT 1600-2


Theme 2 (1950 - 1951 ): "You Bet Your Life"

    [above is the title credit found in ASCAP;
     
     In the early days of this series, a recorded THEME was supplied
     for the show by writer/publisher Alexander Laszlo who recorded
     music for low-budget filmed TV series in Germany with the
     Stuttgart Radio Orchestra.

     A letter in Laszlo's business files to the series producer 
     FilmCraft, verified use of a Laszlo THEME on 39 episodes of 
    "The Groucho Marx TV Program" aired "from October, 1950 til 
     May 3rd, 1951." 

     This referred to music from Laszlo's "Structural Music"
     library, but no positive identification as to which cues has 
     been made as yet. On airchecks of the period -- from the DVD
     "The Lost Episodes" -- dating from 1950, there is a pre-
     recorded generic fanfare behind the opening announcement, and
     a two-beat "show-biz" style piece used for the closing credits. 
     Both cues have the sound of Laszlo's German recording orchestra.]

     Composer: Alexander Laszlo (ASCAP)

     Original Publisher: [listed, but no publisher in ASCAP 1978;
                          Laszlo used "Guild Publications" as his
                          publishing business name during the 1950s
                          to collect royalties]

     1997 Publisher: Regents of the University of California,
                        o/b/o Alexander Publications (ASCAP)

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings:


Theme 3 (1951 - 1953): "You Bet Your Life"

    [The opening version of this theme begins with an intro quoting 
    "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" and then segues into a nice original
     melody; it was used behind the introductory DeSoto commercial
     lead-in to the show, and also during the end credits;

     Groucho's first bandleader -- Jerry Fielding -- was unfortunately 
     blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee during 
     their disgraceful witch-hunt looking for communists under every 
     bed, led by infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy. Rather than subject
     Groucho to controversy, Fielding resigned. After a period of
     uncertainty about his replacement -- Jack Meakin took over as 
     the bandleader for the rest of the TV series run.]

     Composers: Jerry Fielding (ASCAP), and
                Sydney ("Sid") Robin (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Keystone Music Co. of Calif. (ASCAP)

     2003 Publisher: Keystone Music Company of California (ASCAP)
                        of Sunland, CA

    [may be in "Fielding TV Suite, Vol. 1]:
     Copyright Date: Dec.  2, 1959; Eu 597 317.
     Renewal   Date: Jan. 27, 1987; RE-328-972.

     Recordings:


Theme 4: "[A Sweet] Somebody Like You"

    [Theme verified in Ray Clark Theme Collection; this is a rarely-
     heard theme by the songwriting team of Harry Tobias and
     Stan Myers. It shows up in the Harry Tobias collection at
     U.C.L.A. Music Department Special Collections, listed as,
     "Sweet Somebody Like You, A -- Theme for the Groucho Marx
      T.V. show".]

     Composers: Harry Tobias (ASCAP), and
                Stan Myers (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Tobey Music Corp. (ASCAP)

     2000 Publisher: WB Music Co. (ASCAP),
                        c/o Warner-Chappell Music, Inc.
                        of Los Angeles, CA

    [Listed in copyright records document V2490P323-335 for
     the June 30, 1989 assignment of 74 titles from Fred Tobias
     to the WB Music Corporation.]
      
     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings:


Theme 5: "It's De-Lovely"

    [aka: "De-Lovely" from the Broadway musical "Red, Hot and Blue!";

     As contributor T. Perrone reminds us, this was used on Groucho's
     series during some years when it was sponsored by Desoto, when
     the automobile company had licensed a version of this song as 
     it's advertising jingle in the middle to late-1950's.]

     Composer: Cole Porter (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Chappell & Co., Inc. (ASCAP) 

     1998 Publisher: Chappell & Co., Inc. (ASCAP)
                        c/o Warner-Chappell Music, Inc.
                        of Los Angeles, CA

     Composition Date: 1936

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings: 
         [78rpm -- Hal Kemp orchestra made one of the first]


Theme 6: "You Betcha Life (Groucho Marx T.V.)"

    [aka: "You Bet Your Life", in papers in the Meakin Estate;

     After Jerry Fielding departed, the television studio orchestra
     was led by Jack Meakin, a former NBC music director who had
     been well known for being music director of the sitcom,
     "The Great Gildersleeve" on radio and television and other
     shows throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Meakin was to remain
     Groucho's bandleader on all his shows from that point on,
     and composed several THEMEs for him.

     It's possible that this is an arrangement which includes the
     main theme of "Hooray For Captain Spaulding", and the "B" theme
     from "Groucho and the Wolf" by Jack Meakin...which was included
     but not credited on the CD -- "Television's Greatest Hits (Vol.
     4: Black and White Classics") mentioned above.

     This version of the theme was heard most frequently in the
     "Best of Groucho" re-runs and in syndication.]

     Composer: Jack Meakin (ASCAP/BMI)
              [professional name of John Brunker Meakin]

     Original Publisher: T. B. Harms Co. [New Acct.] (ASCAP)

     1998 Publisher: Polygram International (ASCAP)

     Copyright Date: [no reference found to this arrangement
                      in Copyright office as yet...it may be
                      simply an un-copyrighted medley of the
                      two THEMEs which had been filed for
                      copyright individually.]
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings:


Theme 7: "Groucho and the Wolf"

    [Theme in the Meakin estate, and in the Ray Clark collection;

     The "B" theme of this composition is heard but not credited
     in a medley along with "Hooray For Captain Spaulding"; which 
     was recorded on the CD "Television's Greatest Hits (Vol. 4)").

     This melody is a nice "bridge" section of the arrangement which
     features saxophones...

     The original purpose for which this THEME was written was an 
     opening animation for the TV series in which a cartoon Groucho 
     appears. The cartoon caricature of Groucho includes his trademark
     bushy eyebrows and cigar in mouth -- and a leering "wolf-like"
     expression -- to which the title alludes]

     Composer: Jack Meakin (ASCAP/BMI)
              [professional name of John Brunker Meakin]

     Original Publisher: T. B. Harms Co. [New Acct.] (ASCAP)

     1998 Publisher: Polygram International (ASCAP)

     Copyright Date: Sep 21, 1959; Eu 598 177.
     Renewal   Date:

     Recordings: (uncredited, as part of "You Bet Your Life" THEME)
            CD - "Television's Greatest Hits (Vol. 4): 
                  Black and White Classics" (1996)
                  TVT Records TVT 1600-2











































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