Video: Groucho Marx pitches the 1957 DeSoto

GrouchoPresenting a precious moment in American car culture: Groucho Marx delivers a deadpan sales pitch for the all-new 1957 DeSoto. 



Groucho Marx (1890-1977) is celebrated the world over as the erstwhile leader of the Marx Brothers, the comedy geniuses who created some of the funniest movies in film history, including Duck Soup (1933) and A Night at the Opera (1935). But if you’re a child of the ’50s and ’60s, you also know Groucho for his second career: as the host of the TV game show You Bet Your Life, a vehicle custom-made for his lightning wit and zany observations.

A major sponsor of You Bet Your Life was DeSoto, casting Groucho in the role of celebrity spokesman for the former Chrysler division. In these early days of television, personalities shilled without shame, performing a song or delivering a dramatic line one moment, then turning toward the camera the next moment to pitch the sponsor’s product. The approach was guileless if nothing else.

The Marx brothers were well-known car guys around Hollywood and Beverly Hills—Chico and Zeppo owned a notorious Mercedes SSK, while Groucho was understood to be a Packard man before he partnered with DeSoto. In this spot, Groucho delivers his selling points with an air of quiet confidence and knowledgeability, nothing like his manic screen persona. Watch this clip and you’ll be ready to visit your local DeSoto-Plymouth dealer for a test drive.


4 thoughts on “Video: Groucho Marx pitches the 1957 DeSoto

  1. I vaguely remember, You bet your life, but do remember the DeSoto commercials, and I believe led to my father buying a ’59 or ’60 as one of the first cars I remember riding in( with the speedo that changed colors)
    Groucho Marx was quite a character, and pushed the limits of the censors. According to Wiki, the “cigar incident” was his most famous. While interviewing a contestant who had 19 children, Groucho asked the woman why she had so many children, which she replied, “because I love my husband”. Groucho replied back, ” well, I love my cigars, but I take it out of my mouth ,once in a while”. The remark was judged to risque’, and was cut from the program.

  2. Thanks for posting! This lead to a Youtube “You Bet Your Life” marathon for my daughter and me. Smarter and funnier than anything on commercial television today.

    As far as Groucho shilling for DeSoto, he comes off as much more “authentic” than the planned Lincoln campaign.

  3. My favorite You Bet Your Life moment was when Groucho asked a lady, who had just said she had 10 kids, what her husband did for a living. She said “He runs an automatic screw machine.” The audience reaction and the raised eyebrows and deadpan look on Groucho’s face was hilarious.

  4. Yes I remember that incident.
    The woman had a number of children, and Groucho told her he wuld give her some money if she could name them all in order from the first child to the last one.
    She correctly named them all in order of their birth.
    Then Groucho asked her what her husband did for a living.
    She answered that her husband worked in a factory and ran an automatic srew machine.
    Groucho’s response was well I won’t touch that comment with a ten foot pole, which got quite a laugh from the audience.
    Considered quite risque for the time.

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