Gummo Marx

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Gummo Marx
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Born Milton Marx
(1893-10-23)October 23, 1893
New York City, New York
Died April 21, 1977(1977-04-21) (aged 83)
Palm Springs, California
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Occupation Actor, theatrical agent
Spouse(s) Helen von Tilzer
(m. 1929–1976, her death)

Milton "Gummo" Marx (October 23, 1893[1] – April 21, 1977) was an American vaudeville performer, criminal investigator and theatrical agent. He was the second youngest of the five Marx Brothers. Born in New York City, he worked with his brothers on the vaudeville circuit, but left acting when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I (years before his brothers Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo began their film career) and served in the Army until his retirement in 1952 by which time he had obtained the rank of Colonel. He later worked for 10 years with his brother Zeppo and then retired. He died after having two strokes in 1977.

Life and career[edit]

Lt. Milton Marx attached to the Public Relations Office of the United States Army Ninth Air Force, does some painting in the streets of Tripoli, 1943

Marx was born in New York City. His parents were Sam Marx (called "Frenchie" throughout his life), and his wife, Minnie Schoenberg Marx. Marx's family was Jewish. His mother was from Dornum in East Frisia; and his father was a native of Alsace, and worked as a tailor.[2][3][4]

His long military service began when he was drafted shortly before the World War I Armistice, and he was therefore never sent overseas but did serve as an instructor.[5] He was recommended by his commanding officer for the Investigative Service and in 1929 he went to Officer Candidate School and got a commission. During World War II he served in North Africa, Yugoslavia and Germany, where due to his knowledge of German he became chief detective investigator for the Allied Military Government of Germany. In the Army he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oakleaf Cluster, and the Army Commendation Medal with two Oakleaf Clusters and eventually achieved the rank of Colonel.[6]

He retired from the Army in 1952 and became Vice-President of Marx Engineering & Manufacturing, the company founded by his brother Herbert, where he served until his final retirement in 1962. Gummo, who in an interview said he never liked being on stage, went into the raincoat business.[7] After his Army career he joined with his brother Zeppo Marx and operated a theatrical agency. After that collaboration ended, Gummo represented his brother Groucho Marx and worked on the television show The Life of Riley, which he helped develop. He also represented other on-screen talent and a number of writers. Gummo was well respected as a businessman. He rarely had contracts with those he represented, his philosophy being that, if they liked his work, they would continue to use him, and if not, they would seek representation elsewhere.[8]

Gummo was given his nickname because he had a tendency to be sneaky backstage, and creep up on others without them knowing (like a gumshoe). Another explanation cited by biographers and family members is that Milton, being the sickliest of the brothers, often wore rubber overshoes, also called "gumshoes," to protect himself from taking sick in inclement weather.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He married Helen von Tilzer on March 16, 1929. Their son, Robert, was born in 1930. [9]


Gravesite of Gummo Marx

Gummo died on April 21, 1977, at his home in Palm Springs, California from a cerebral hemorrhage following two strokes.[10] His death was never reported to Groucho, who by that time had become so ill and weak that it was thought the news would be of further detriment to his health. Groucho died four months later.

Gummo Marx was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[11]

Family members[edit]

His grandsons are actors Gregg Marx, Chris Marx, and actor/producer Brett Marx, who as a child actor appeared as 'Jimmy Feldman' in 1976's comedy film The Bad News Bears.

When Richard J. Anobile asked Groucho in The Marx Bros. Scrapbook with which brother he was closest, Groucho replied. "Gummo. He's a nice man, and that's more than I can say for Zeppo."[citation needed]


  1. ^ 1900 Census shows birth year as Oct 1892 and his World War I draft registration says 21 Oct 1892 Roll #1613143, on his death certificate and his grave the year 1893 is given.
  2. ^ La famille paternelle des Marx Brothers (French)
  3. ^ "Mrs. Minnie Marx. Mother of Four Marx Brothers, Musical Comedy Stars, Dies.". New York Times. September 16, 1929. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  4. ^ "Samuel Marx, Father of Four Marx Brothers of Stage and Screen Fame". New York Times. May 12, 1933. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  5. ^ Army Times, April 27, 1977,
  6. ^ Army Times, April 27, 1977,
  7. ^ Current Biography, The H. W. Wilson Company, retrieved 2011-11-29 
  8. ^ Simon Louvish. Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2000. 337-8. ISBN 0-312-25292-7
  9. ^ Gummo Marx Biography 
  10. ^ "Gummo Marx, Managed Comedians". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-15. Palm Springs, California, April 21, 1977 (Reuters) Gummo Marx, an original member of the Marx brothers' comedy team, died here today. He was 84 years old. He had been predeceased the previous January by his wife. 
  11. ^ Gummo Marx at Find a Grave