Saturday, April 8, 2017


   For those who know me, know that I am a massive fan of vintage television. Be it a drama like Dragnet or a sitcom like The Andy Griffith Show, you can pretty much find me glued to my old tube TV reveling in entertainment of olden time. I am also a fan of classic game shows, ranging from the 1950s, all the way up to the late 1970s. Some of my favorites of the genre include, What's My Line, You Bet Your Life and To Tell the Truth.
   Sadly for a lot of fans of this vintage material, there is no definitive spot to go to fill your cravings for the classics. Many television stations object to showing black & white material, and the ones that do, pepper the airings with numerous, and gratuitous, modern day commercials that take away from the wholesome experience of watching these classics of yore.
   Enter W. Gary Wetstein, of Arizona, a man who has dedicated his life to finding and preserving this material. Mr. Wetstein has scoured the ends of the Earth to provide classic programs, many of which were lost for decades. One such, recent, example was the discovery of a previously missing episode of the long-running panel game show, What's My Line, that hadn't been seen since its original airing on October 1st, 1950!
   Gary, as he prefers to be known, hosts numerous YouTube channels featuring full episodes of What's My Line, To Tell The Truth, and You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx. Nearly every episode of each series has been uploaded to their respective YouTube channels (links to which can be found below).
   Not only does Gary upload the full episodes, most with their original commercials, but he also writes intricate descriptions for each, along with the original airdates. These notes give the viewer a greater understanding as to the program they are about to view, and can sometimes be far more interesting than the actual programs themselves.
   Gary also hosts accompanying Facebook groups for each program, each of which contain captivating production information, cast and crew biographies and more. There are also the weekly "Chat-a-Longs", in which Gary links to a particular episode and invites members to watch along and discuss the episodes live every Sunday or Saturday night.
   As a fan of these programs, I have learned things from Gary that I would have never known about these shows otherwise. Gary is a kind and intelligent man, who, in addition to his YouTube and Facebook work, has contributed to numerous print and online publications regarding classic comedy, classic television, and his personal obsession, George Burns and Gracie Allen. Most recently, Gary wrote a fantastic article for Matthew Coniam's brilliant biography of Groucho Marx entitled, "That's Me, Groucho", available now from McFarland Books. Gary is currently working on the definitive text on What's My Line, a project nearly three years in the making.
   I am honoured to be friends with this talented and unique individual, he has taught me a lot about classic television, and has opened my eyes to the preservation and archiving of vintage and forgotten television. He has influenced me to start my own YouTube channel, Geno's House of Rare Sitcoms, where I upload unseen television episodes and movies dating from 1933 all the way until 1990. Gary is to be commended for his many years of hard work, and this article surely does not do him justice. Thank you for the many years of friendship, Gary, here is to many more. Cheers.

Gary's "You Bet Your Life" Channel
Gary's "What's My Line" Channel
Gary's "To Tell The Truth" Channel

"To Tell The Truth" Facebook Group
"What's My Line" Facebook Group.
"You Bet Your Life" Facebook Group

Geno's House of Rare Sitcoms

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