Julius Henry Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977), known
Marx (/ˈɡraʊtʃoʊ ˈmɑːrks/), was an
American comedian, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star.
He was known as a master of quick wit and is widely considered one of
the best comedians of the modern era.
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
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.
1 Early life
2.2 Mustache, eyebrows, and walk
3 Personal life
4 Later years
4.1 You Bet Your Life
4.2 Other work
7.2 Short subjects
8.1 Books by
8.2 Essays and reporting
10 Further reading
11 External links
Julius Marx was born on October 2, 1890, in the
Manhattan borough, of
New York City, New York. Marx stated that he was born in a room
above a butcher's shop on East 78th Street, "Between Lexington &
3rd", as told to
Dick Cavett in a 1969 television interview. 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
Upper East Side of the
borough of Manhattan. The turn-of-the-century building that his
brother 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. The Marx family lived at this location "for about 14
Groucho also told Cavett.
The only known photo of all five Marx brothers with their parents in
New York City, 1915; from left: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother),
Zeppo, Frenchie (father), Chico, and Harpo
Marx's family was Jewish. 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" by his sons throughout his
life because he and his family came from Alsace in France. 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. Marx would continue to 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 with the Gene
Leroy Trio, debuting at the Ramona Theatre in
Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids, MI on July
16, 1905. Marx reputedly claimed that he was "hopelessly average"
as a vaudevillian, but this was typical Marx, wisecracking in his true
form. By 1909
Minnie Marx had assembled her sons into an
undistinguished 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.
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
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
when 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.
Marx Brothers became the biggest comedic stars of the Palace
Theatre in New York, which billed itself as the "Valhalla of
Vaudeville". Brother Chico's deal-making skills resulted in three hit
plays on Broadway. No other comedy routine had ever so infected the
Broadway circuit. All of this stage work predated their Hollywood
career. By the time the Marxes made their first movie, they were
already major stars with sharply honed skills; and by the time Groucho
was relaunched to stardom on You Bet Your Life, he had been performing
successfully for half a century.
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. 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, and is believed to have been destroyed at the time. A
decade later, the team made two of their Broadway hits—The Cocoanuts
and Animal Crackers—into movies. Other successful films were
Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the
Opera. 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
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 asked to
host a radio quiz program You Bet Your Life. It was broadcast by ABC
and then CBS before moving to NBC. It moved from radio to television
on October 5, 1950 and ran for eleven years. Filmed before a live
audience, the show consisted of Marx bantering with the contestants
and ad-libbing jokes before briefly quizzing them. The show was
responsible for popularizing the phrases "Say the secret word and the
duck will come down and give you fifty dollars," "Who's buried in
Grant's Tomb?" and "What color is the White House?" (asked to reward a
losing contestant a consolation prize).
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
Mustache, eyebrows, and walk
In public and off-camera, Harpo and Chico were hard to recognize,
without their wigs and costumes, and it was almost impossible for fans
Groucho without his trademark eyeglasses, fake eyebrows,
Eve Arden in a scene from
At the Circus
At the Circus (1939)
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.
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.) 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.
Marx Brothers (clockwise from bottom: Groucho, Chico, and Harpo)
by Yusuf Karsh, 1946
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,
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.
During the early 1950s,
Groucho described his perfect woman:
“Someone who looks like
Marilyn Monroe and talks like George S.
Groucho was denied membership in an informal symphonietta of friends
(including Harpo) organized by Ben Hecht, because he could play only
the mandolin. When the group began its first rehearsal at Hecht's
Groucho rushed in and demanded silence from the "lousy
amateurs". The musicians discovered him conducting the Los Angeles
Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the overture to Tannhäuser in
Hecht's living room.
Groucho was allowed to join the symphonietta.
Later in life,
Groucho would sometimes note to talk show hosts, not
entirely jokingly, that he was unable to actually insult anyone,
because the target of his comment would assume that it was a
Groucho-esque joke, and would laugh.
On the set of
You Bet Your Life
You Bet Your Life with daughter Melinda, 1953
Despite his lack of formal education, he wrote many books, including
Groucho and Me (1959) and Memoirs of a Mangy Lover
(1963). He was a friend of such literary figures as Booth Tarkington,
T. S. Eliot
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 his letters to the Library of
Congress. His daughter Miriam published a collection of his letters to
her in 1992 titled Love, Groucho.
Groucho made serious efforts to learn 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
Irving Berlin quipped, "The world would not be in such a snarl, had
Groucho instead of Karl". In his book The
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". However, just as some of the other Democrats of
the time, Marx also said in a television interview that he disliked
the women's liberation movement.
Marx & Lennon: The Parallel Sayings was published in 2005; the
book records similar sayings between
Groucho Marx and John Lennon.
You Bet Your Life
Groucho's radio career was not as successful as his work 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
Groucho as host of You Bet Your Life, 1953
In the mid-1940s, during a depressing lull in his career (his radio
Blue Ribbon Town
Blue Ribbon Town had failed, he failed to sell his proposed
sitcom The Flotsam Family only to see it become a huge hit as The Life
of Riley with
William Bendix in the title role, 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 green room for 40 minutes,
Groucho went on the air in a
Hope started by saying "Why,
Groucho Marx! (applause) Groucho, what
are you doing out here in the desert?"
Groucho retorted, "Huh, desert,
I've been sitting in the dressing room for forty minutes! Some desert
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
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 went
on to explain that the quiz would be only a backdrop for Groucho's
interviews of people, and the storm of ad-libbing that they would
Groucho replied, "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
You Bet Your Life debuted in October 1947 on ABC radio (which aired it
from 1947 to 1949), sponsored by costume jewelry manufacturer Allen
Gellman; 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
George Fenneman as his announcer and straight man,
Groucho entertained his audiences with improvised conversation with
his guests. Since
You Bet Your Life
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.
The show's most famous remark supposedly occurred as
interviewing Charlotte Story, who had borne 20 children. When Marx
asked why she had chosen to raise such a large family, Mrs. Story is
said to have replied, "I love my husband"; to which Marx responded, "I
love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in awhile." The
remark was judged too risqué to be aired, according to the anecdote,
and was edited out before broadcast. Charlotte Story and her
husband Marion, indeed parents of 20 children, were real people who
appeared on the program in 1950. Audio recordings of the interview
exist, and a reference to cigars is made ("With each new kid, do
you go around passing out cigars?"), but there is no evidence of the
famous line. Marx and Fenneman both denied that the incident took
place. "I get credit all the time for things I never said," Marx
told Roger Ebert, in 1972. "You know that line in You Bet Your Life?
The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say, 'I smoke a cigar, but I
take it out of my mouth occasionally'? I never said that." Marx's
1976 memoir recounts the episode as fact, but co-writer Hector
Arce relied mostly on sources other than
Groucho himself—who was by
then in his mid eighties, in ill health and mentally compromised—and
was probably unaware that
Groucho had specifically denied making the
By the time
You Bet Your Life
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. He later
remarked to Richard J. Anobile in The
Marx Brothers Scrapbook, "Not
much satisfaction after he killed six million Jews!"
Groucho as Ko-Ko, 1960
In 1960, Groucho, a lifelong devotee of the comic operas of Gilbert
and Sullivan, appeared as Ko-Ko, 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
The Tonight Show during the
six-month interval between
Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, introduced
Carson as the new host.
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 starred in a weekly show for British TV titled
Groucho, broadcast on ITV. The program was along similar lines to You
Bet Your Life, with
Keith Fordyce taking on the Fenneman role.
However, it was poorly received and lasted only 11 weeks.
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
Groucho prepared for the LSD-themed movie by taking a dose of the
drug in Krassner's company, and had a moving, largely pleasant
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. He
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 an
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."
Groucho's previous work regained popularity; new books of transcribed
conversations were published 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
Library of Congress. In a Cavett interview in 1971,
being published in
The New Yorker
The New Yorker under his own name, Julius Henry
Marx, meant more than all the plays he appeared in. As a man who
never had formal schooling, to have his writings declared culturally
important was a point of great satisfaction. As he passed his 81st
birthday in 1971, however,
Groucho became increasingly frail,
physically and mentally, as a result of a succession of minor
In 1972, largely at the behest of his companion Erin Fleming, Groucho
staged a live one-man show at
Carnegie Hall that was later 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. Fleming's influence on Marx was controversial. Some close
to Marx believed that she did much to revive his popularity, and the
relationship with a younger woman boosted his ego and vitality.
Others described her as a Svengali, exploiting an increasingly senile
Marx in pursuit of her own stardom. Marx's children, particularly
Arthur, felt strongly that Fleming was pushing their weak father
beyond his physical and mental limits. Writer Mark Evanier
On the 1974 Academy Awards telecast, Marx's final major public
Jack Lemmon presented him with an honorary Academy Award
to a standing ovation. The award honored his brothers as well: "in
recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequalled
achievements of the
Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture
comedy." Noticeably frail,
Groucho took a bow for his deceased
brothers. "I wish that Harpo and Chico could be here to share with me
this great honor," he said, naming the two deceased brothers. He also
praised the late
Margaret Dumont as a great straight woman who never
understood any of his jokes. Groucho's final appearance was a
brief sketch with
George Burns in the
Bob Hope television special Joys
(a parody of the 1975 movie Jaws) in March 1976. His health
continued to decline the following year; when his younger brother
Gummo died at age 84 on April 21, 1977,
Groucho was never told for
fear of eliciting still further deterioration of his health.
Groucho maintained his irrepressible sense of humor to the very end,
however. George Fenneman, his radio and TV announcer, good-natured
foil, and lifelong friend, often related a story of one of his final
visits to Groucho's home: When the time came to end the visit,
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."
When a nurse approached him with a thermometer during his final
hospitalization, explaining that she wanted to see if he had a
temperature, he responded, "Don't be silly — everybody has a
Elliott Gould recalled a similar incident: "I
recall the last time I saw Groucho, he was in the hospital, and he had
tubes in his nose and what have you," he said. "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."
Groucho Marx at Eden Memorial Park
Marx was hospitalized at
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with pneumonia on
June 22, 1977 and died there more than a month later at the age of
86 on August 12, four months after Gummo's death.
Groucho was cremated and the ashes were interred in the Eden Memorial
Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He was survived by his three children
and younger brother Zeppo, who outlived him by two years. His
gravestone bears no epitaph, but in one of his last interviews he
suggested one: "Excuse me, I can't stand up."
Protracted court battles over the disposition of his estate lasted
well into the 1980s. Eventually,
Arthur Marx was awarded the bulk of
the estate's assets, and
Erin Fleming was ordered to repay
Marx and Lennon on a 1994
Groucho Marx was, and remains, 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
The Addams Family with similarly thick mustache,
eyebrows, sardonic remarks, backward logic, and ever-present cigar
(pulled from his breast pocket already lit).
Groucho Marx once said, 'Anyone can get old - all you have to do
is to live long enough'."
Elizabeth II speaking at her 80th birthday celebration
A meeting with
Elton John led to a press photo of
both of his index fingers and thumbs at Elton like revolvers. John's
spontaneous response to hold up his hands and replying "Don't shoot
me! I'm only the piano player!" was so amusing that
Elton John reused
it as the title of a 1973 album. An added Marx homage was that a
poster for the Marx Brothers' movie Go West was included on the cover
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
Groucho invited Queen to visit him in his Los Angeles
home; there they performed "'39" a cappella.
A long-running ad campaign for
Vlasic Pickles features an animated
stork that imitates Groucho's mannerisms and voice. 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.
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 show entitled An Evening with
Groucho in theaters
throughout the United States and Canada with supporting actors and
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. In 1982, Gabe
Kaplan filmed a version of the same show, entitled Groucho.
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.
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
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
Groucho was played by Scottish actor Frodo McDaniel.
Sidney Sheldon wrote a roman à clef on Marx and his partner Erin
Fleming titled A Stranger in the Mirror, published in 1976. It was
made into a television movie in 1993 with actor
Perry King playing the
role inspired by Marx.
Films with the Marx Brothers
Previewed once and never released; thought to be lost
Released by Paramount Pictures; based on a 1925
Marx Brothers Broadway
Captain Jeffrey Spaulding
Released by Paramount; based on a 1928
Marx Brothers Broadway musical
The House That Shadows Built
Short subject; released by Paramount
Released by Paramount
Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff
Released by Paramount
Rufus T. Firefly
Released by Paramount
A Night at the Opera
Otis B. Driftwood
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
A Day at the Races
Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush
Released by MGM
RKO Radio Pictures; based on a 1937 Broadway play
At the Circus
J. Cheever Loophole
Released by MGM
S. Quentin Quale
Released by MGM
The Big Store
Wolf J. Flywheel
Released by MGM (intended to be their last film)
A Night in Casablanca
Released by United Artists
Detective Sam Grunion
Released by United Artists
Showdown at Ulcer Gulch
Stage Conductor (voice)
The Story of Mankind
General Electric Theater
Suspect in a Police Lineup
Episode: "The Incredible Jewel Robbery"
Yours for the Asking
The King and the Chorus Girl
Co-writer with Norman Krasna
Lionel Q. Deveraux
Released by United Artist
Released by Paramount Pictures
You Bet Your Life
Emile J. Keck
Released by RKO
A Girl in Every Port
Released by RKO
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
Uncredited; released by 20th Century Fox
The Bell Telephone Hour
Episode: "The Mikado" (aired April 29, 1960)
General Electric Theater
Episode: "The Hold-Out"
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre
Episode: "Time For Elizabeth"
I Dream of Jeannie
Episode: "The Greatest Invention in the World"
Released by Paramount
Episode: "Farewell, My Friends, Hello"
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)
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Beds (Farrar & Rinehart, 1930)
Beds: revised & updated edition (Bobbs-Merrill, 1976
Many Happy Returns: An Unofficial Guide to Your Income-Tax Problems
Otto Soglow (Simon & Schuster, 1942)
Groucho and Me (B. Geis Associates, 1959)
Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (B. Geis Associates, 1963)
Groucho Letters: Letters From and To
Groucho Marx (Simon &
Schuster, 1967, ISBN 0-306-80607-X)
The Marx Bros, Scrapbook with Richard Anobile (Darien House/W W
Norton, 1973, ISBN 0-393-08371-3)
The Secret Word Is
Groucho with Hector Arce (Putnam, 1976)
Groucho Phile: An Illustrated Life by
Groucho Marx with Hector
Arce (Galahad, 1976, ISBN 0-88365-433-4)
Essays and reporting
Marx, Julius H. (April 4, 1925). "Boston again". New York, Etc. The
New Yorker. 1 (7): 25.
— (April 11, 1925). "
Vaudeville talk". New York, Etc. The New
Yorker. 1 (8): 25.
^ a b c "
Groucho Marx, Comedian, Dead. Movie Star and TV Host Was 86.
Master of the Insult
Groucho Marx, Film Comedian and Host of 'You Bet
Your Life,' Dies". New York Times. August 20, 2007. p. 1.
^ Billboard Magazine May 4, 1974 pg 35: "
Groucho Marx was the best
comedian this country ever produced – Woody Allen"
^ Giddins, Gary (2001). The
New York Times
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"
^ The WWI draft registration of 1917 as Julius Henry Marx in Chicago,
Illinois uses October 2, 1890. The 1900 census has him born in October
^ a b c d The
Dick Cavett Show: Season 3, Episode 9
Groucho Marx (13
Jun. 1969) – imdb q.v.: Youtube
^ 1950 radio episode of You Bet Your Life[episode needed]
^ Gary Baum (June 23, 2011). "L.A.'s Power Golf Clubs: Where the
Hollywood Elite Play". The Hollywood Reporter.
^ Bland, Frank. "The
Marx Brothers Family". Retrieved 15 May
^ Bader, Robert S. (2016). Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx
Brothers on Stage. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
p. 31. ISBN 9780810134164.
^ a b c d "
Groucho Marx Biography". groucho-marx.com. Retrieved
^ Boller, Paul F.; Davis, Ronald L. (1988). Hollywood Anecdotes
(reprint ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 220.
^ Morris, Edmund (2001).
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Modern
Library Paperback ed.). New York: Modern Library. pp. 143–144.
ISBN 0-375-75678-7. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
^ Boxoffice, 3 June 1939, p. 89.
^ Life With Groucho. Arthur Marx. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1954.
^ 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.
Groucho Marx papers, 1930-1967".
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Online
Catalog. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
^ Jerry McCulley, The Surprisingly Serious Tale of Comedian Groucho
Marx and His Lifelong Quest to Master Guitar.
^ Irving Berlin, Robert Kimball, Linda Emmet. The Complete Lyrics of
Irving Berlin, p. 489. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005.
^ Marx, Groucho. The
Groucho Phile, p. 238. Wallaby, 1977.
^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIArT9IPojc [dead link]
^ Charlotte Chandler. Hello, I must be going:
Groucho and his friends.
Doubleday, 1978, p 190
^ Dwan, R. As Long As They're Laughing :
Groucho Marx and You Bet
Your Life. Baltimore, Midnight Marquee, 2000, p. 129.
^ Kanfer, S. Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx. New
York, Vintage, May 2001, p. 136. ISBN 0375702075
^ "The Secret Words". snopes.com. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
^ Stoliar, S. Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House. New
York, BearManor Media, October 2011, pp. 124–5.
^ Ebert, R. A Living Legend, Rated R. Esquire, July 1972, p. 143.
Retrieved 4 October 2013.
^ Marx, G. and Arce, H. The Secret Word is Groucho. New York, G.P.
Putnam's Sons, 1976, pp. 33–4. ISBN 0399116907.
^ Kaltenbach, C. Also 20 Years Dead: Groucho. Baltimore Sun, 19 August
1997, p. E-1.
^ Hallett, Judith Dwan. "What's So Funny & Why?". Sarah Lawrence
College. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
Dick Cavett Show - 5/25/1971
Groucho Marx - Contributors". newyorker.com. Retrieved 22 November
^ Point of View Archived 2006-10-21 at the Wayback Machine., Mark
Evanier, 1999-06-04, retrieved, 2007-08-09.
^ a b Point of View Archived 2012-07-17 at the Wayback Machine., Mark
Evanier, 1999-06-11, retrieved, 2007-08-09.
^ a b "They Dressed like Groucho" NY Times Opinionator (April 20,
20120 Retrieved 5/1/2012.
^ Erin Fleming, R.I.P., Mark Evanier, 7 March 2004
Groucho Marx receiving an Honorary Oscar®". Oscars.org.
2009-11-24. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
Bob Hope Special:
Bob Hope in Joys". Hope Enterprises. 1976-03-05.
^ "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
^ "George Fenneman, Sidekick To
Groucho Marx, Dies at 77" New York
Times (June 5, 1997). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
^ Famed Actor
Elliott Gould Recalls
Groucho Marx’s Final Days (July
10, 2013). Compassion & Choices Magazine archive Archived
2014-01-06 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
Groucho Marx Dies at 86 After Two-Month Illness". Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. 20 August 1977. Officials at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center,
where Marx had been hospitalized for the past two months with a
respiratory ailment, said he died at 7:25 p.m. PDT of pneumonia
Groucho the Great. legacy.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
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."
Groucho marks Queen's 80th". SBS. Retrieved June 27, 2017
^ Buckley, David (2007). Elton The Biography. Chicago Review Press.
^ Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock.
p.96. Voyageur Press, 2009
^ Stuart Elliott, Pink or Blue? These Bundles of Joy Are Always Green,
New York Times, 2007-05-30.
^ Erickson, Hal. "
Gabe Kaplan As Groucho". All Media Guide New York
Times. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
^ Rhymes with Purple Productions – Theatre, Cabaret,
Burlesque[permanent dead link].
Groucho Marx on Television Part Two - The Sixties and Seventies".
TVparty.com. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
Miriam Marx Allen, Love, Groucho: Letters From
Groucho Marx to His
Daughter Miriam (1992, ISBN 0-571-12915-3)
Charlotte Chandler, Hello, I Must Be Going! (1979,
Stefan Kanfer, Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx (2000,
Simon Louvish, Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx
Brothers (2001, ISBN 0-312-25292-7)
Arthur Marx, Life With
Groucho (1954, revised as My Life with Groucho:
A Son's Eye View 1988, ISBN 0-330-31132-8))
Arthur Marx, Son of
Groucho (1972, ISBN 0-679-50355-2)
Harpo Marx, Harpo Speaks (1961, revised as Harpo Speaks! 1985,
Glenn Mitchell, The
Marx Brothers Encyclopedia (1996,
Steve Stoliar, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House (1996,
Julius H. (Groucho) Marx v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 29 T.C.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikiquote has quotations related to:
Marx, Groucho, 1890–1977 (
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Name Authority File)
Groucho Marx papers, 1930–1967 (Library of Congress)
Groucho Marx - Contributors". newyorker.com.
Groucho Marx on IMDb
Groucho Marx at the TCM Movie Database
Groucho Marx at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Groucho Marx at Find a Grave
Alistair Cooke's reflections on his friendship with Groucho
Marx Brothers Tribute Website
Groucho Marx - Old Time Radio - Archive.org
Groucho's letter to Warner Brothers when they threatened to sue him
Urban Legends Reference Page:
Groucho Marx: "I Love My Cigar"
Esquire magazine profile of
Groucho Marx in 1972, by Roger Ebert
1922 passport photo of
Groucho and first wife Ruth Johnson
Groucho Marx Interview – Press Conference London June 1965
FBI Records: The Vault -
Groucho Marx at vault.fbi.gov
Academy Honorary Award
Warner Bros. /
Charlie Chaplin (1928)
Walt Disney (1932)
Shirley Temple (1934)
D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith (1935)
The March of Time
The March of Time /
W. Howard Greene and
Harold Rosson (1936)
Edgar Bergen /
W. Howard Greene /
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art Film Library /
Mack Sennett (1937)
J. Arthur Ball /
Walt Disney /
Deanna Durbin and
Mickey Rooney /
Gordon Jennings, Jan Domela, Devereaux Jennings, Irmin Roberts, Art
Smith, Farciot Edouart, Loyal Griggs, Loren L. Ryder, Harry D. Mills,
Louis Mesenkop, Walter Oberst /
Oliver T. Marsh and Allen Davey /
Harry Warner (1938)
Douglas Fairbanks /
Judy Garland /
William Cameron Menzies / Motion
Picture Relief Fund (Jean Hersholt, Ralph Morgan, Ralph Block, Conrad
Nagel)/ Technicolor Company (1939)
Bob Hope /
Nathan Levinson (1940)
Walt Disney, William Garity, John N. A. Hawkins, and the RCA
Manufacturing Company /
Leopold Stokowski and his associates / Rey
Scott / British Ministry of Information (1941)
Charles Boyer /
Noël Coward /
George Pal (1943)
Bob Hope /
Margaret O'Brien (1944)
Republic Studio, Daniel J. Bloomberg, and the Republic Studio Sound
Walter Wanger / The House I Live In / Peggy Ann Garner
Harold Russell /
Laurence Olivier /
Ernst Lubitsch / Claude Jarman Jr.
James Baskett / Thomas Armat, William Nicholas Selig, Albert E. Smith,
George Kirke Spoor
George Kirke Spoor /
Bill and Coo / Shoeshine (1947)
Walter Wanger /
Monsieur Vincent /
Sid Grauman /
Adolph Zukor (1948)
Jean Hersholt /
Fred Astaire /
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille / The Bicycle Thief
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer /
George Murphy /
The Walls of Malapaga (1950)
Gene Kelly /
Merian C. Cooper
Merian C. Cooper /
Bob Hope /
Harold Lloyd / George Mitchell / Joseph
M. Schenck /
Forbidden Games (1952)
20th Century-Fox Film Corporation / Bell & Howell Company / Joseph
Breen / Pete Smith (1953)
Bausch & Lomb Optical Company /
Danny Kaye / Kemp Niver / Greta
Jon Whiteley /
Vincent Winter / Gate of Hell (1954)
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1955)
Eddie Cantor (1956)
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers / Gilbert M.
"Broncho Billy" Anderson /
Charles Brackett /
B. B. Kahane (1957)
Maurice Chevalier (1958)
Buster Keaton /
Lee de Forest
Lee de Forest (1959)
Gary Cooper /
Stan Laurel /
Hayley Mills (1960)
William L. Hendricks / Fred L. Metzler /
Jerome Robbins (1961)
William J. Tuttle
William J. Tuttle (1964)
Bob Hope (1965)
Yakima Canutt /
Y. Frank Freeman
Y. Frank Freeman (1966)
Arthur Freed (1967)
John Chambers /
Onna White (1968)
Cary Grant (1969)
Lillian Gish /
Orson Welles (1970)
Charlie Chaplin (1971)
Charles S. Boren /
Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson (1972)
Henri Langlois /
Groucho Marx (1973)
Howard Hawks /
Jean Renoir (1974)
Mary Pickford (1975)
Margaret Booth (1977)
Walter Lantz /
Laurence Olivier /
King Vidor / Museum of Modern Art
Department of Film (1978)
Hal Elias /
Alec Guinness (1979)
Henry Fonda (1980)
Barbara Stanwyck (1981)
Mickey Rooney (1982)
Hal Roach (1983)
James Stewart /
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts (1984)
Paul Newman /
Alex North (1985)
Ralph Bellamy (1986)
Kodak Company /
National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada (1988)
Akira Kurosawa (1989)
Sophia Loren /
Myrna Loy (1990)
Satyajit Ray (1991)
Federico Fellini (1992)
Deborah Kerr (1993)
Michelangelo Antonioni (1994)
Kirk Douglas /
Chuck Jones (1995)
Michael Kidd (1996)
Stanley Donen (1997)
Elia Kazan (1998)
Andrzej Wajda (1999)
Jack Cardiff /
Ernest Lehman (2000)
Sidney Poitier /
Robert Redford (2001)
Peter O'Toole (2002)
Blake Edwards (2003)
Sidney Lumet (2004)
Robert Altman (2005)
Ennio Morricone (2006)
Robert F. Boyle (2007)
Lauren Bacall /
Roger Corman /
Gordon Willis (2009)
Kevin Brownlow /
Jean-Luc Godard /
Eli Wallach (2010)
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones / Dick Smith (2011)
D. A. Pennebaker
D. A. Pennebaker /
Hal Needham /
George Stevens Jr.
George Stevens Jr. (2012)
Angela Lansbury /
Steve Martin /
Piero Tosi (2013)
Jean-Claude Carrière /
Hayao Miyazaki /
Maureen O'Hara (2014)
Spike Lee /
Gena Rowlands (2015)
Jackie Chan /
Lynn Stalmaster /
Anne V. Coates / Frederick Wiseman
Charles Burnett /
Owen Roizman /
Donald Sutherland / Agnès Varda
The Marx Brothers
Humor Risk (1921)
The Cocoanuts (1929)
Animal Crackers (1930)
The House That Shadows Built (1931)
Monkey Business (1931)
Horse Feathers (1932)
Duck Soup (1933)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
A Day at the Races (1937)
Room Service (1938)
At the Circus
At the Circus (1939)
Go West (1940)
The Big Store
The Big Store (1941)
A Night in Casablanca (1946)
Love Happy (1949)
The Story of Mankind (1957)
I'll Say She Is (1924)
The Cocoanuts (1925)
Animal Crackers (1928)
"Hello, I Must Be Going"
"Hooray for Captain Spaulding"
"Lydia the Tattooed Lady"
Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel
Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel (radio, 1932 – episodes)
Blue Ribbon Town
Blue Ribbon Town (radio, 1943–44)
"The Incredible Jewel Robbery" (TV, 1959)
Deputy Seraph (TV, 1959)
An Evening with Groucho
Giraffes on Horseback Salad
Hello, I Must Be Going!
Marx & Lennon
Groucho: A Life in Revue (1986 play)
"Why a Duck?"