Erin Fleming

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Erin Leslie Fleming
Born Marilyn Fleming
(1941-08-13)August 13, 1941
New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada
Died April 15, 2003(2003-04-15) (aged 61)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Actress
Partner(s) Groucho Marx

Erin Leslie Fleming (August 13, 1941 – April 15, 2003[1]) was a Canadian actress best known as the companion of Groucho Marx in his final years.

Early career[edit]

Fleming was born Marilyn Fleming on August 13, 1941 in New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada. She appeared in minor roles in six films between 1965 and 1976, during which time she became acquainted with Marx and moved into his house. She appeared in the Woody Allen movie, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask).[2]

Relationship with Groucho Marx[edit]

Fleming's influence on Marx was controversial. Many close to him admitted that she did much to revive his popularity by arranging a series of personal appearances and one-man shows, culminating in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, which was released on a best-selling record album, and the honorary Academy Award he received in 1974.[3] Others, including Marx's son Arthur, charged that she pushed the increasingly frail comedian to the limits of his endurance, largely for her own personal gain.[4] Sidney Sheldon wrote a roman à clef on Fleming's relationship with Marx titled A Stranger in the Mirror, published in 1976.[5] In a 1993 television adaptation, Lori Loughlin performed the role inspired by Fleming.

Marx died in August 1977. Litigation over his estate, which extended into the early 1980s, eventually resolved in favor of Arthur Marx; Fleming was ordered to repay $472,000 to the Marx estate.[6]


Fleming's mental health deteriorated in the 1990s. She was arrested once in the Los Angeles area on a weapons charge, and spent much of the decade in and out of various psychiatric facilities. She was reportedly impoverished and homeless in her final years, living on the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.[citation needed]


Fleming died on April 15, 2003, at age 61 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.[7] She is buried in Hornings Mills Cemetery, Horning's Mills, Ontario, Canada.[8]





  1. ^ "Erin M Fleming". United States Social Security Death Index. index, FamilySearch. April 15, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2014.  citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. ^ Erin Fleming on IMDb
  3. ^ Groucho Marx receiving an Honorary Oscar®. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2013-09-25 – via YouTube. 
  4. ^ Dick Cavett, "Groucho Lives! (In Two Places)", New York Times Online, March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2011, Obituary of Arthur Marx, "In his father's declining years, Marx became a central figure behind a successful legal battle to wrest back control of Groucho's affairs from his late-in-life companion, Erin Fleming."
  7. ^ Biodata,; accessed August 24, 2014.
  8. ^ Erin Fleming profile at Find a Grave

External links[edit]