George Watt Fenneman was an American radio and television announcer.
Fenneman was born in Beijing, China, the only child of American parents in the import-export business. He was nine months old when his parents moved to San Francisco, California, United States, where he grew up. In 1942 he graduated from San Francisco State College with a degree in speech and drama, and took a job as an announcer with a local radio station. During the Second World War he worked as a broadcast correspondent for the U.S. Office of War Information. In 1946 he moved to Los Angeles and resumed his radio career.
He is most remembered as the announcer and good-natured sidekick on the Groucho Marx comedy/quiz show vehicle, You Bet Your Life, which began in 1947 on radio and moved to television in 1950, where it remained, on NBC, for 11 years. Fenneman’s mellifluous voice, clean-cut good looks, and gentlemanly manner provided the ideal foil for Marx’s zany antics and bawdy ad-libs.
“Groucho called the male Margaret Dumont,” according to Frank Ferrante, who portrayed Marx onstage in Groucho: A Life in Revue. “George took it as the highest praise. Groucho called him the perfect straight man.” Fenneman was also selected because of his intelligence and ability to calculate the scores of the contestants, whom Groucho frequently encouraged to bet odd amounts, making the arithmetic difficult to keep straight on the fly during a live show. He remained friends with Marx until the latter’s death in 1977.