Groucho Marx

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Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx - portrait.jpg
Groucho Marx, c. 1950
Birth name Julius Henry Marx
Born (1890-10-02)October 2, 1890
New York City, New York
Died August 19, 1977(1977-08-19) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California
Medium Film, television, stage, radio, music
Years active 1905–1976
Genres Wit/Wordplay, Slapstick
Influenced Johnny Carson, Woody Allen, Brendon Small, Milton Berle, Bill Cosby, Ricky Gervais
Spouse Ruth Johnson (1920–42);
two children: Arthur Marx and Miriam Marx
Kay Marvis Gorcey (1945–51);
one child: Melinda Marx
Eden Hartford (1954–69)
Relative(s) Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Gummo Marx (all brothers)

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian and film and television star.[1] He was known as a master of quick wit and widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era.[2] His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators.

He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. He also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life.[1]

His distinctive appearance, carried over from his days in vaudeville, included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, glasses, cigar, and a thick greasepaint mustache and eyebrows. These exaggerated features resulted in the creation of one of the world's most ubiquitous and recognizable novelty disguises, known as "Groucho glasses": a one-piece mask consisting of horn-rimmed glasses, large plastic nose, bushy eyebrows and mustache.[3]

Early life[edit]

He was born on October 2, 1890 in New York City, New York.[4]

Marx stated that he was born in a room above a butcher's shop on 78th Street in New York City.[5] The Marx children grew up on East 93rd Street off Lexington Avenue in a neighborhood now known as Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side of the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. The turn-of-the-century building that Harpo called "the first real home they ever knew" (in his memoir Harpo Speaks) was populated with European immigrants, mostly artisans. Just across the street were the oldest brownstones in the area, owned by people such as the well-connected Loew Brothers and William Orth.

Marx's family was Jewish.[6] Groucho's mother was Miene "Minnie" Schoenberg, whose family came from Dornum in northern Germany when she was 16 years old. His father was Simon "Sam" Marx, who changed his name from Marrix, and was called "Frenchie" throughout his life because he and his family came from France.[7] Minnie's brother was Al Schoenberg, who shortened his name to Al Shean when he went into show business as half of Gallagher and Shean, a noted vaudeville act of the early 20th century. According to Groucho, when Shean visited he would throw the local waifs a few coins so that when he knocked at the door he would be surrounded by adoring fans. Marx and his brothers respected his opinions and asked him on several occasions to write some material for them.

Minnie Marx did not have an entertainment industry career but had intense ambition for her sons to go on the stage like their uncle. While pushing her eldest son Leonard (Chico Marx) in piano lessons she found that Julius had a pleasant soprano voice and the ability to remain on key. Julius's early career goal was to become a doctor, but the family's need for income forced him out of school at the age of twelve. By that time young Julius had become a voracious reader, particularly fond of Horatio Alger. In living his life Marx would overcome his lack of formal education by becoming very well-read.

After a few stabs at entry-level office work and jobs suitable for adolescents, Julius took to the stage as a boy singer in 1905. Marx reputedly claimed that he was "hopelessly average" as a vaudevillian, but this was typically Marx, wisecracking in his true form. By 1909 Minnie Marx had assembled her sons into a forgettable-quality vaudeville singing group billed as "The Four Nightingales". The brothers Julius, Milton (Gummo Marx) and Arthur (originally Adolph, from 1911 Harpo Marx) and another boy singer, Lou Levy, traveled the U.S. vaudeville circuits to little fanfare. After exhausting their prospects in the East the family moved to La Grange, Illinois, to play the Midwest.

An early photo of the Marx brothers with their parents in New York City, 1915. From left to right: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother), Zeppo, Frenchie (father), Chico, and Harpo.

After a particularly dispiriting performance in Nacogdoches, Texas, Julius, Milton, and Arthur began cracking jokes onstage for their own amusement. Much to their surprise, the audience liked them better as comedians than as singers. They modified the then-popular Gus Edwards comedy skit "School Days" and renamed it "Fun In Hi Skule". The Marx Brothers would perform variations on this routine for the next seven years.

For a time in vaudeville all the brothers performed using ethnic accents. Leonard, the oldest, developed the Italian accent he used as Chico Marx to convince some roving bullies that he was Italian, not Jewish. Arthur, the next oldest, donned a curly red wig and became "Patsy Brannigan", a stereotypical Irish character. His discomfort speaking on stage led to his uncle Al Shean's suggestion that he stop speaking altogether and play the role in mime. Julius Marx's character from "Fun In Hi Skule" was an ethnic German, so Julius played him with a German accent. After the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, public anti-German sentiment was widespread, and Marx's German character was booed, so he quickly dropped the accent and developed the fast-talking wise-guy character that became his trademark.

The Marx Brothers became the biggest comedic stars of the Palace Theatre in New York City, which billed itself as the "Valhalla of Vaudeville". Brother Chico's deal-making skills resulted in three hit plays on Broadway. No comedy routine had ever so infected the Broadway circuit.

All of this predated their Hollywood career. By the time the Marxes made their first movie, they were major stars with sharply honed skills, and when Groucho was relaunched to stardom on You Bet Your Life, he had already been performing successfully for half a century.

Career[edit]

Hollywood[edit]

The Marx Brothers in 1931 (from top, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo)

Groucho Marx made 26 movies, 13 of them with his brothers Chico and Harpo.[8] Marx developed a routine as a wisecracking hustler with a distinctive chicken-walking lope, an exaggerated greasepaint mustache and eyebrows, and an ever-present cigar, improvising insults to stuffy dowagers (often played by Margaret Dumont) and anyone else who stood in his way. As the Marx Brothers, he and his brothers starred in a series of popular stage shows and movies.

Their first movie was a silent film made in 1921 that was never released,[8] and is believed to have been destroyed at the time. A decade later, the team made some of their Broadway hits into movies, including The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers.[8] Other successful films were Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the Opera.[8] One quip from Marx concerned his response to Sam Wood, the director of A Night at the Opera. Furious with the Marx Brothers' ad-libs and antics on the set, Wood yelled in disgust: "You can't make an actor out of clay." Groucho responded, "Nor a director out of Wood."[9]

Marx also worked as a radio comedian and show host. One of his earliest stints was a short-lived series in 1932, Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, costarring Chico. Though most of the scripts and discs were thought to have been destroyed, all but one of the scripts were found in 1988 in the Library of Congress. In 1947 Marx was chosen to host a radio quiz program, You Bet Your Life, broadcast by ABC and then CBS, before moving over to NBC radio and television in 1950. Filmed before a live audience, the television show consisted of Marx interviewing the contestants and ad libbing jokes, before playing a brief quiz. The show was responsible for the phrases "Say the secret woid [word] and divide $100" (that is, each contestant would get $50); and "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" or "What color is the White House?" (asked when Marx felt sorry for a contestant who had not won anything). It ran for eleven years on television.

Groucho was the subject of an urban legend about a supposed response to a contestant who had nine children which supposedly brought down the house. In response to Marx asking in disbelief why she had so many children, the contestant replied, "I love my husband." To this, Marx responded, "I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while." Groucho often asserted in interviews that this exchange never took place, but it remains one of the most often quoted "Groucho-isms" nonetheless.[10]

Throughout his career he introduced a number of memorable songs in films, including "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" and "Hello, I Must Be Going", in Animal Crackers, "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It", "Everyone Says I Love You" and "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". Frank Sinatra, who once quipped that the only thing he could do better than Marx was sing, made a film with Marx and Jane Russell in 1951 entitled Double Dynamite.

Mustache, eyebrows and walk[edit]

See also: Groucho glasses

In public and off-camera, Harpo and Chico were hard to recognize, without their wigs and costumes, but it was almost impossible for fans to recognize Groucho without his trademark eyeglasses, fake eyebrows and mustache.

The greasepaint mustache and eyebrows originated spontaneously prior to a vaudeville performance in the early 1920s when he did not have time to apply the pasted-on mustache he had been using (or, according to his autobiography, simply did not enjoy the removal of the mustache every night because of the effects of tearing an adhesive bandage off the same patch of skin every night). After applying the greasepaint mustache, a quick glance in the mirror revealed his natural hair eyebrows were too undertoned and did not match the rest of his face, so Marx added the greasepaint to his eyebrows and headed for the stage. The absurdity of the greasepaint was never discussed on-screen, but in a famous scene in Duck Soup, where both Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) disguise themselves as Groucho, they are briefly seen applying the greasepaint, implicitly answering any question a viewer might have had about where he got his mustache and eyebrows.

Marx was asked to apply the greasepaint mustache once more for You Bet Your Life when it came to television, but he refused, opting instead to grow a real one, which he wore for the rest of his life. By this time, his eyesight had weakened enough for him actually to need corrective lenses; before then, his eyeglasses had merely been a stage prop. He debuted this new, and now much-older, appearance in Love Happy, the Marx Brothers's last film as a comedy team.

Groucho Marx and Eve Arden in the trailer for At the Circus (1939)

He did paint the old character mustache over his real one on a few rare performing occasions, including a TV sketch with Jackie Gleason on the latter's variety show in the 1960s (in which they performed a variation on the song "Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean," co-written by Marx's uncle Al Shean) and the 1968 Otto Preminger film Skidoo. In his late 70s at the time, Marx remarked on his appearance: "I looked like I was embalmed." He played a mob boss called "God" and, according to Marx, "both my performance and the film were God-awful!"

The exaggerated walk, with one hand on the small of his back and his torso bent almost 90 degrees at the waist was a parody of a fad from the 1880s and 1890s. Fashionable young men of the upper classes would affect a walk with their right hand held fast to the base of their spines, and with a slight lean forward at the waist and a very slight twist toward the right with the left shoulder, allowing the left hand to swing free with the gait. (Edmund Morris, in his biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, describes a young Roosevelt, newly elected to the State Assembly, walking into the House Chamber for the first time in this trendy, affected gait, somewhat to the amusement of the older and more rural members.)[citation needed] Groucho exaggerated this fad to a marked degree, and the comedy effect was enhanced by how out of date the fashion was by the 1940s and 1950s.

Personal life[edit]

The Marx Brothers (clockwise: Groucho, Chico, and Harpo) by Yusuf Karsh, 1948
At work on You Bet Your Life with daughter Melinda, 1953

Groucho's three marriages all ended in divorce. His first wife was chorus girl Ruth Johnson. He was 29 and she 19 at the time of their wedding. The couple had two children, Arthur Marx and Miriam Marx. His second wife was Kay Marvis (m. 1945–51), née Catherine Dittig,[11] former wife of Leo Gorcey. Groucho was 54 and Kay 21 at the time of their marriage. They had a daughter, Melinda Marx. His third wife was actress Eden Hartford.[12] She was 24 when she married the 63-year-old Groucho.

During the early 1950s, Groucho described his perfect woman: “Someone who looks like Marilyn Monroe and talks like George S. Kaufman.”[13]

Often when the Marxes arrived at restaurants, there would be a long wait for a table. "Just tell the maître d' who we are," his wife would say. (In his pre-mustache days, he was rarely recognized in public.) Groucho would say, "OK, OK. Good evening, sir. My name is Jones. This is Mrs. Jones, and here are all the little Joneses." Now his wife would be furious and insist that he tell the maître d' the truth. "Oh, all right," said Groucho. "My name is Smith. This is Mrs. Smith, and here are all the little Smiths."[citation needed]

Similar anecdotes are corroborated by Groucho's friends, not one of whom went without being publicly embarrassed by Groucho on at least one occasion. Once, at a restaurant (the most common location of Groucho's antics), a fan came up to him and said, "Excuse me, but aren't you Groucho Marx?" "Yes," Groucho answered annoyedly. "Oh, I'm your biggest fan! Could I ask you a favor?" the man asked. "Sure, what is it?" asked the even-more annoyed Groucho. "See my wife sitting over there? She's an even bigger fan of yours than I am! Would you be willing to insult her?" Groucho replied, "Sir, if my wife looked like that, I wouldn't need any help thinking of insults!"[citation needed]

Groucho was not allowed to join an informal symphonietta of friends, organized by Ben Hecht, and which included Harpo, because he could play only the mandolin. When the group began its first rehearsal at Hecht's home, Groucho rushed in and demanded silence from the "lousy amateurs". The musicians discovered him conducting the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, playing Tannhäuser in Hecht's living room. Groucho was allowed to join the symphonietta.[14]

Groucho's son Arthur published a brief account of an incident that occurred when Arthur was a child. The family was going through customs and, while filling out a form, Groucho listed his name as "Julius Henry Marx" and his occupation as "smuggler."[15]

Later in life, Groucho would sometimes note to talkshow hosts, not entirely jokingly, that he was unable to actually insult anyone, because the target of his comment assumed it was a Groucho-esque joke and would laugh.

Despite his lack of formal education, he wrote many books, including his autobiography, Groucho and Me (1959) and Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1963). He was personal friends with such literary figures as T. S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg. Much of his personal correspondence with those and other figures is featured in the book The Groucho Letters (1967) with an introduction and commentary on the letters written by Groucho, who donated[16] his letters to the Library of Congress.

Groucho was also quite seriously interested in learning to play the guitar. In the 1932 film Horse Feathers, Groucho performs the film’s love theme “Everyone Says I Love You” for costar Thelma Todd on a Gibson L-5.[17]

Irving Berlin quipped, "The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl".[18] In his book The Groucho Phile, Marx says "I've been a liberal Democrat all my life", and "I frankly find Democrats a better, more sympathetic crowd.... I'll continue to believe that Democrats have a greater regard for the common man than Republicans do".[19] Marx & Lennon: The Parallel Sayings was published in 2005; the book records similar sayings between Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

Later years[edit]

You Bet Your Life[edit]

Groucho's radio life was not as successful as his life on stage and in film, though historians such as Gerald Nachman and Michael Barson suggest that, in the case of the single-season Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel (1932), the failure may have been a combination of a poor time slot and the Marx Brothers' returning to Hollywood to make another film.

In the mid-1940s, during a depressing lull in his career (his radio show Blue Ribbon Town had failed, and the Marx Brothers as film performers were well past their prime), Groucho was scheduled to appear on a radio show with Bob Hope. Annoyed that he was made to wait in the waiting room for 40 minutes, Groucho went on the air in a foul mood.

Groucho as host of You Bet Your Life, 1953

Hope started by saying "Why, it's Groucho Marx, ladies and gentlemen! (applause) Groucho, what brings you here from the hot desert?" Groucho retorted, "Hot desert my foot, I've been standing in the cold waiting room for forty minutes!" Groucho continued to ignore the script, and although Hope was a formidable ad-libber in his own right, he could not begin to keep up with Groucho, who lengthened the scene well beyond its allotted time slot with a veritable onslaught of improvised wisecracks.

Listening in on the show was producer John Guedel, who had a brainstorm. He approached Groucho about doing a quiz show, to which Groucho derisively retorted, "A quiz show? Only actors who are completely washed up resort to a quiz show!" Undeterred, Guedel explained that the quiz would be only a backdrop for Groucho's interviews of people, and the storm of ad-libbing that they would elicit. Groucho said, "Well, I've had no success in radio, and I can't hold on to a sponsor. At this point, I'll try anything!"

You Bet Your Life debuted in October 1947 on radio on ABC (which aired it from 1947 to 1949), sponsored by costume jewelry manufacturer Allen Gellman;[20] and then on CBS (1949–50), and finally NBC, continuing until May 1961—on radio only, 1947–1950; on both radio and television, 1950–1960; and on television only, 1960–1961. The show proved a huge hit, being one of the most popular on television by the mid-1950s. With George Fenneman as his announcer and straight man, Groucho entertained his audiences with improvised conversation with his guests. Since You Bet Your Life was mostly ad-libbed and unscripted—although writers did pre-interview the guests and feed Groucho ready-made lines in advance—the producers insisted that the network prerecord it (instead of it being broadcast live).[citation needed] There were two reasons for this: prerecording provided Groucho with time to fish around for funny exchanges and any intervening dead spots to be edited out; and secondly to protect the network, since Groucho was a notorious loose cannon and known to say almost anything. The television show ran for 11 successful seasons until it was canceled in 1961. Automobile marque DeSoto was a longtime major sponsor. For the DeSoto ads Marx would sometimes say: "Tell 'em Groucho sent you", or "Try a DeSoto before you decide".

The program's theme music was an instrumental version of "Hooray for Captain Spaulding", which became increasingly identified as Groucho's personal theme song. A recording of the song with Groucho and the Ken Lane singers with an orchestra directed by Victor Young was released in 1952. Another recording made by Groucho during this period was "The Funniest Song in the World", released on the Young People's Records label in 1949. It was a series of five original children's songs with a connecting narrative about a monkey and his fellow zoo creatures.

Other work[edit]

By the time You Bet Your Life debuted on TV on October 5, 1950, Groucho had grown a real mustache (which he had already sported earlier in the films Copacabana and Love Happy).

During a tour of Germany in 1958, accompanied by then-wife Eden, daughter Melinda, Robert Dwan and Dwan's daughter Judith, he climbed a pile of rubble that marked the site of Adolf Hitler's bunker, the site of Hitler's death, and performed a two-minute Charleston.[21] He later remarked to Richard J. Anobile in The Marx Brothers Scrapbook, "Not much satisfaction after he killed six million Jews!"

Marx as Koko, 1960

In 1960, Groucho, a lifelong devotee of the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, appeared as Koko the Lord High Executioner in a televised production of The Mikado on NBC's Bell Telephone Hour. A clip of this is in rotation on Classic Arts Showcase.

Another TV show, Tell It To Groucho, premiered January 11, 1962 on CBS, but only lasted five months. On October 1, 1962, Groucho, after acting as occasional guest host of The Tonight Show during the six-month interval between Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, introduced Carson as the new host. In 1965, a weekly show for British TV titled Groucho was poorly received and lasted only 11 weeks.

In 1964, Marx starred in the "Time for Elizabeth" episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, a truncated version of a play that Groucho Marx and Norman Krasna wrote in 1948.

Groucho appeared as a gangster named God in the movie Skidoo (1968), directed by Otto Preminger, and costarring Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing. It was released by the studio where the Marx Brothers began their film career, Paramount Pictures. The film received almost universally negative reviews. As a side note, writer Paul Krassner published a story in the February 1981 issue of High Times, relating how Groucho prepared for the LSD-themed movie by taking a dose of the drug in Krassner's company, and had a moving, largely pleasant experience.[22] Four years later came Groucho's last theatrical film appearance, a brief, uncredited cameo in Michael Ritchie's The Candidate (1972).

In the early 1970s, largely at the behest of companion Erin Fleming, Groucho had a live one-man show, including one recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1972 and released as a double album, An Evening with Groucho, on A&M Records. He also made an appearance in 1973 on a short-lived variety show hosted by Bill Cosby, who idolized Groucho.

Groucho developed friendships with rock star Alice Cooper—the two were photographed together for Rolling Stone magazine—and television host Dick Cavett, becoming a frequent guest on Cavett's late-night talk show, even appearing in a one-man, 90-minute interview.[23] He befriended Elton John when the British singer was staying in California in 1972, insisting on calling him "John Elton." According to writer Philip Norman, when Groucho jokingly pointed his index fingers as if holding a pair of six-shooters, Elton John put up his hands and said, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player," thereby naming the album he had just completed. A film poster for the Marx Bros. movie Go West is visible on the album cover photograph as homage to Groucho. Elton John accompanied Groucho to a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. As the lights went down, Groucho called out, "Does it have a happy ending?" And during the Crucifixion scene, he declared, "This is sure to offend the Jews."[citation needed]

Groucho's previous works regained popularity and were accompanied by new books of transcribed conversations by Richard J. Anobile and Charlotte Chandler. In a BBC interview in 1975, Groucho called his greatest achievement having a book selected for cultural preservation in the American Library of Congress. As a man who never had formal schooling, to have his writings declared to be culturally important was a point of great satisfaction. As he passed his 81st birthday in October 1971, however, Groucho became increasingly frail physically and mentally as a result of several minor strokes he suffered.[24][25] Controversy surrounded the companionship he had developed with Erin Fleming, which consequently raised disputes over his estate.

Jack Lemmon presented Groucho with an honorary Academy Award in 1974, his final major public appearance, in which he received a standing ovation. Noticeably frail and sluggish, Groucho took a bow for his deceased brothers, saying, "I wish that Harpo and Chico could be here to share with me this great honor." He also wished that Margaret Dumont could have been present, adding that she was a great straight woman for him and that she never understood[23] any of his jokes.[26] Groucho's final appearance was a brief sketch with George Burns in the Bob Hope television special Joys in 1976.

His health was noticeably worsening by the following year and when Gummo died, aged 84, on April 21, 1977, in Palm Springs, California, the death of his younger brother was not reported to Groucho because it was thought too detrimental to his health.[27]

Groucho maintained his irrepressible sense of humor to the very end, however. According to Dick Cavett's New York Times blog, when the elderly Groucho visited an old friend in the hospital, he said to the elevator attendant, as if in a department store, "Men's tonsils, please." When Groucho himself was on his deathbed, and a nurse came around with a thermometer, explaining that she wanted to see if he had a temperature, he responded, "Don't be silly—everybody has a temperature."[28] George Fenneman, his radio and TV announcer, good-natured foil, and lifelong friend, often related a story in subsequent years of one of his final visits to Groucho's home: When the time came to end the visit, Fenneman lifted Groucho from his wheelchair, put his arms around his torso, and began to "walk" the frail comedian backwards across the room towards his bed. As he did, he heard a weak voice in his ear: "Fenneman," whispered Groucho, "you always were a lousy dancer."[29] Actor Elliott Gould recalled a similar incident. "I was privileged to be Groucho Marx’s friend in his latter days," he said. "And I recall the last time I saw Groucho, he was in the hospital, and he had tubes in his nose and what have you. And when he saw me, he was weak, but he was there; and he put his fingers on the tubes and played them like it was a clarinet. Groucho played the tubes for me, which brings me to tears."[30]

Death[edit]

Marx's children, particularly his son Arthur, felt strongly that Erin Fleming was pushing their weak father beyond his physical and mental limits. Writer Mark Evanier concurred.[24][25] Fleming's influence on Marx was controversial. Some close to him believed that she did much to revive his popularity, and that his relationship with a young woman boosted Groucho's ego, adding to his vitality.[31] Others described her as a Svengali, exploiting an increasingly senile Marx in pursuit of her own stardom, while reportedly behaving erratically and violently, suggesting mental instability.[citation needed] Marx was hospitalized for pneumonia on June 22, 1977 and died on August 19 at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.[1]

Fleming, increasingly mentally unstable through the years, committed suicide in 2003.[citation needed]

Marx was cremated and the ashes were interred in the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Groucho had the longest lifespan of all the Marx Brothers and was survived by his children and younger brother Zeppo, who outlived him by two years. His death was somewhat overshadowed by the death of Elvis Presley, which occurred three days earlier. In an interview, he jokingly suggested his epitaph read: "Excuse me, I can't stand up." His mausoleum marker bears only his stage name, a Star of David, and the years of his birth and death.[32]

His estate was still in dispute in 1983.[33]

Legacy[edit]

Marx and Lennon on a 1994 Abkhazia stamp parodying Marxism-Leninism

Groucho Marx was, and is, the most recognizable and well-known of the Marx Brothers. Groucho-like characters and references have appeared in popular culture both during and after his life, some aimed at audiences who may never have seen a Marx Brothers movie. Groucho's trademark eyeglasses, nose, mustache, and cigar have become icons of comedy—glasses with fake noses and mustaches (referred to as "Groucho glasses", "nose-glasses," and other names) are sold by novelty and costume shops around the world.

Nat Perrin, close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films, inspired John Astin's portrayal of Gomez Addams on the 1960s TV series The Addams Family with similarly thick mustache, eyebrows, sardonic remarks, backward logic, and ever-present cigar (pulled from his breast pocket already lit).[citation needed]

Alan Alda often vamped in the manner of Groucho on M*A*S*H. In one episode, "Yankee Doodle Doctor", Hawkeye and Trapper put on a Marx Brothers act at the 4077, with Hawkeye playing Groucho and Trapper playing Harpo. In three other episodes, a character appeared who was named Captain Calvin Spalding (played by Loudon Wainwright III). Groucho's character in Animal Crackers was Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding.

On many occasions,[citation needed] on the 1970s television sitcom All In The Family, Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner), would briefly imitate Groucho Marx and his mannerisms.

Two albums by British rock band Queen, A Night at the Opera (1975) and A Day at the Races (1976), are named after Marx Brothers films. In March 1977, Groucho invited Queen to visit him in his Los Angeles home; there they performed "'39" a capella.[34] A long-running ad campaign for Vlasic Pickles features an animated stork that imitates Groucho's mannerisms and voice.[35] On the famous Hollywood Sign in California, one of the "O"s is dedicated to Groucho. Alice Cooper contributed over $27,000 to remodel the sign, in memory of his friend.

In 1982, Gabe Kaplan portrayed Marx in the film Groucho, in a one-man stage production.[36] He also imitated Marx occasionally on his previous TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

Actor Frank Ferrante has performed as Groucho Marx on stage for more than two decades. He continues to tour under rights granted by the Marx family in a one-man show entitled An Evening With Groucho in theaters throughout the United States and Canada with piano accompanist Jim Furmston. In the late 1980s Ferrante starred as Groucho in the off-Broadway and London show Groucho: A Life in Revue penned by Groucho's son Arthur. Ferrante portrayed the comedian from age 15 to 85. The show was later filmed for PBS in 2001. Woody Allen's 1996 musical Everyone Says I Love You, in addition to being named for one of Groucho's signature songs, ends with a Groucho-themed New Year's Eve party in Paris, which some of the stars, including Allen and Goldie Hawn, attend in full Groucho costume. The highlight of the scene is an ensemble song-and-dance performance of "Hooray for Captain Spaulding"—done entirely in French.

In the last of the Tintin comics, Tintin and the Picaros, a balloon shaped like the face of Groucho could be seen in the Annual Carnival.

In the Italian horror comic Dylan Dog, the protagonist's sidekick is a Groucho impersonator whose character became his permanent personality.

The BBC remade the radio sitcom Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, with contemporary actors playing the parts of the original cast. The series was repeated on digital radio station BBC7. Scottish playwright Louise Oliver wrote a play named Waiting For Groucho about Chico and Harpo waiting for Groucho to turn up for the filming of their last project together. This was performed by Glasgow theatre company Rhymes with Purple Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe and in Glasgow and Hamilton in 2007–08. Groucho was played by Scottish actor Frodo McDaniel.[37]

The Groucho Club in London's Soho, which has an eclectically artistic membership, is named for Groucho, (his portrait dominates its bar), in reference to his well-known mot that he would not wish to join any club that would accept him as a member.

Solo filmography[edit]

Features[edit]

Short subjects[edit]

  • Hollywood on Parade No. 11 (1933)
  • Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 3 (1936)
  • Sunday Night at the Trocadero (1937)
  • Screen Snapshots: The Great Al Jolson (1955)
  • Showdown at Ulcer Gulch (1956) (voice)
  • Screen Snapshots: Playtime in Hollywood (1956)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Groucho Marx, Comedian, Dead. Movie Star and TV Host Was 106. Master of the Insult Groucho Marx, Film Comedian and Host of 'You Bet Your Life,' Dies". New York Times. August 20, 2007. "Groucho Marx, the comedian, died tonight at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here after failing to recover from a respiratory ailment that hospitalized him June 22. He was 86 years old" 
  2. ^ Billboard Magazine May 4, 1974 pg 35: "Groucho Marx was the best comedian this country ever produced – Woody Allen"
  3. ^ Giddins, Gary (2001). The New York Times Book Reviews 2000, volume 1. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-57958-058-0.  "The most enduring masks of the 20th century—likely to take their place alongside Comedy and Tragedy or Pulcinella and Pierrot"
  4. ^ The WWI draft registration as Julius Henry Marx, Chicago, Illinois uses October 2, 1890. The 1900 census has him born in October of 1890.
  5. ^ 1950 radio episode of You Bet Your Life[episode needed]
  6. ^ Gary Baum (June 23, 2011). "L.A.'s Power Golf Clubs: Where the Hollywood Elite Play". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  7. ^ Bland, Frank. "The Marx Brothers Family". Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Groucho Marx Biography". groucho-marx.com. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  9. ^ Boller, Paul F.; Davis, Ronald L. (1988). Hollywood Anecdotes (reprint ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 220. ISBN 0-345-35654-3. 
  10. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara and David P. "Groucho Marx: "I Love My Cigar"". snopes.com. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  11. ^ Boxoffice, 3 June 1939, p. 89.
  12. ^ Eden Hartford Biography, imdb.com.
  13. ^ Marx, Arthur (1954). Life With Groucho. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 294. 
  14. ^ Friedrich, Otto (1997). City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's (reprint ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 43. ISBN 0520209494. 
  15. ^ Marx, Arthur (1954). Life With Groucho. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 158. 
  16. ^ LCCN mm82-47845
  17. ^ Jerry McCulley, The Surprisingly Serious Tale of Comedian Groucho Marx and His Lifelong Quest to Master Guitar.
  18. ^ Irving Berlin, Robert Kimball, Linda Emmet. The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, p. 489. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005. ISBN 1-55783-681-7
  19. ^ Marx, Groucho. The Groucho Phile, p. 238. Wallaby, 1977.
  20. ^ Charlotte Chandler. Hello, I must be going: Groucho and his friends. Doubleday, 1978, p 190
  21. ^ Hallett, Judith Dwan. "What's So Funny & Why?". Sarah Lawrence College. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  22. ^ "Groucho Marx" Dialogue Talk.
  23. ^ a b The Dick Cavett Show: Season 3, Episode 9 Groucho Marx (13 Jun. 1969) – imdb q.v.: Youtube
  24. ^ a b Point of View, Mark Evanier, 1999-06-04, retrieved, 2007-08-09.
  25. ^ a b Point of View, Mark Evanier, 1999-06-11, retrieved, 2007-08-09.
  26. ^ "Groucho Marx receiving an Honorary Oscar®". Oscars.org. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  27. ^ "Gummo Marx, Managed Comedians.". New York Times. "Palm Springs, California, April 21, 2007 (Reuters) Gummo Marks, an original member of the Marx brothers' comedy team, died here today. He was 84 years old." 
  28. ^ "They Dressed like Groucho" NY Times Opinionator (April 20, 20120 Retrieved 5/1/2012.
  29. ^ "George Fenneman, Sidekick To Groucho Marx, Dies at 77" New York Times (June 5, 1997). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  30. ^ Famed Actor Elliott Gould Recalls Groucho Marx’s Final Days (July 10, 2013). Compassion & Choices Magazine archive. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  31. ^ "They Dressed like Groucho" NY Times Opinionator (April 20, 20120) Retrieved 5/1/2012.
  32. ^ Groucho Marx at Find a Grave
  33. ^ Judith Cummings (April 1, 1983). "Property At Issue In The Marx Case". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-02. "The judge who presided over a 10-week trial of the Bank of America's dispute with Erin Fleming, Groucho Marx's longtime companion and business manager, must now decide whether Miss Fleming has to give up two houses, business holdings and a luxury car in addition to paying more than $450,000 in damages awarded the bank. ..." 
  34. ^ Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. p.96. Voyageur Press, 2009
  35. ^ Stuart Elliott, Pink or Blue? These Bundles of Joy Are Always Green, New York Times, 2007-05-30.
  36. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Gabe Kaplan As Groucho". All Media Guide New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  37. ^ Rhymes with Purple Productions – Theatre, Cabaret, Burlesque.

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