Captain Spaulding (Animal Crackers)
|This article does not cite any references (sources). (December 2007)|
|Animal Crackers character|
|First appearance||Animal Crackers (musical)|
|Last appearance||Animal Crackers (film)|
|Portrayed by||Groucho Marx|
|Full name||Jeffrey Edgar Spaulding|
Captain Spaulding is the signature character played by actor Groucho Marx for the stage play and film Animal Crackers. The character of Captain Jeffrey (or Geoffrey, the name appears both ways in the film) T. Spaulding (the "T" stands for "Edgar") first appeared in the Broadway play Animal Crackers and later in the 1930 film of the same name. Spaulding is a famous explorer on return from a trek across Africa to be the guest of honor at a high-society party. Despite his hosts' frequent claims that he is one of the most courageous travelers in the world, his own accounts of his safari reveal his cowardice. He eventually gets caught up in the mystery of a stolen painting.
The character's theme song, "Hooray for Captain Spaulding", became forever associated with Groucho in the public mind. A jazzy instrumental version of the song was later the theme for his quiz show, You Bet Your Life. At Groucho's Carnegie Hall concert in the early 1970s, accompanist Marvin Hamlisch played the song as Groucho made his entrance onstage.
The song's most famous line is "Hooray for Captain Spaulding / The African explorer / 'Did someone call me schnorrer?' / Hooray Hooray Hooray!" Groucho also delivered two of his most famous lines in the Captain Spaulding role, both while recounting his exploits in Africa: "We took some pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed. But we're going back in a couple of months!" and "One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."
One line, Groucho's aside referencing Margaret Dumont's character, "I think I'll try and make her", as in "seduce her", was chopped from all known prints of the film during the 1936 re-release, due to its violation of the Hays Code.
The name may be a topical reference to a real Captain Spaulding, an army officer who was arrested a few years earlier for selling cocaine to Hollywood residents. See Hollywood Babylon, by Kenneth Anger.
The dialogue prior to the song and the lyrics of the song itself can be found here: 
The song was more recently recorded by Big Lou's Polka Casserole.
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