Radio and television announcer George Fenneman, perhaps best remembered for his 12-year association with Groucho Marx on the popular radio and TV gameshow “You Bet Your Life,” died May 29 of respiratory failure at his home in Los Angeles. He was 77.
Shortly after his birth on Nov. 10, 1919, in Peking (now Beijing), China, the Fenneman family relocated to San Francisco. Fenneman graduated from San Francisco State College with a B.A. in Speech and Drama in 1942. He also married his college sweetheart, Peggy Clifford.
Upon graduation, Fenneman joined ABC affiliate KGO in San Francisco.
Fenneman attempted to enlist in the armed forces during World War II but was turned down due to poor eyesight and asthma.
Fenneman did work for the Office of War Information as a radio correspondent, where he befriended a young staff announcer named Jack Webb, who would later hire him for Webb’s “Dragnet” series on both radio and TV.
Following the war, Fenneman relocated to Los Angeles, where he auditioned for a new radio quiz show starring Groucho Marx called “You Bet Your Life.”
The radio show premiered on the NBC radio network on Oct. 27, 1947, and became a huge hit. Fenneman’s introduction of Marx as “the one, the only … ” with the audience finishing the sentence with “Groucho!” became a trademark of the show. The show ran until 1959.
In addition to “You Bet Your Life,” Fenneman’s radio announcing work included “The Orson Welles Show,” “The Eddie Albert Show,” “The Hedda Hopper Show” and “Dragnet.”
His TV credits include “Dragnet,” “Life of Riley,” “The Jim Nabors Show,” “The Donny and Marie Show” and “Talk About Pictures.”
Fenneman also appeared in several feature films, including “The Thing,” “Once You Kiss a Stranger” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Fenneman, who received a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame in 1981, also narrated industrial films for Lockheed Aviation and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for a number of years.
For many years, Fenneman was the spokesman for Home Savings of America and remained with them until his retirement in 1995.
In addition to his wife, Peggy, Fenneman is survived by two daughters and a son.
Private services are pending.
The family suggests donations in Fenneman’s name to Project Night Light, 1313 Vine St., Los Angeles 90024.