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Groucho Marx Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (58) | Personal Quotes (56) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 2 October 1890New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 19 August 1977Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameJulius Henry Marx
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (2)

The bushy-browed, cigar-smoking wise-cracker with the painted-on moustache and stooped walk was the leader of The Marx Brothers. With one-liners that were often double entendres, Groucho never cursed in any of his performances and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love of music and singing (The Marx Brothers started as a singing group), one of the things Groucho was best known for was his rendition of the song "Lydia the Tattooed Lady."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: John Nehrenz

From the late 1940s through 1961, he was the highly successful host of You Bet Your Life (1950) a quiz show on radio and television. His son, Arthur Marx, is a successful writer of biographies and TV scripts. Arthur complained about his father always being "on". If he asked Groucho about something serious or personal, Groucho would reply with one-liners.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <millerm@henge.com>

Spouse (3)

Eden Hartford (17 July 1954 - 4 December 1969) (divorced)
Kay Marvis (24 February 1945 - 12 May 1951) (divorced) (1 child)
Ruth Johnson (4 February 1920 - 15 July 1942) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (4)

He is best known for playing characters who were wisecracking sharpies who always sported a cigar, a mustache made of dark greasepaint and walked with a half crouch.
In Marx Brothers movies, he almost always played characters with unusual first names, a middle initial and unlikely last names; i.e.: Rufus T. Firefly, Hugo Z. Hackenbush and Otis B. Driftwood.
Smoking a cigar
His thick eyebrows, glasses, big nose and mustache

Trivia (58)

Was told by studio executive Walter Wanger to lose the greasepaint moustache as it was an "obvious fake". (Source: Joseph Adamson III in his book Groucho, Harpo, Chico and sometimes Zeppo (1973)
He was to have played the title role in a TV movie of L. Frank Baum's "The Magical Monarch of Mo" with a teleplay by Gore Vidal, which was never produced.
Died three days after Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, due to the furor over the former's death, the media paid little attention to the passing of this comic genius.
When talking about Margaret Dumont, the actress who frequently played the dowager who acted as a punching bag for Groucho's verbal insults, he claimed the secret to their chemistry is that she never understood what he was saying.
Once during the run of "I'll Say She Is" (the brothers' first Broadway play), his brother Harpo Marx tried to play a practical joke on him by chasing a chorus girl onto the stage while Groucho was in the middle of his act. Not to be outdone, he simply pulled out his watch and said "The Five Fifteen is right on schedule".
Had a fifth brother, Gummo Marx, who performed with the other brothers in vaudeville. He left the act before the brothers started to make movies. He remained close to Groucho for the rest of his life.
He suffered from insomnia, which he claimed was due to a financial loss in the stock market. When he suffered from insomnia, he used to call people up in the middle of the night and insult them.
The FBI had a file on him after he made some jokes about communism.
Shortly after his death, his children found a gag letter written by Groucho that stated that he wanted to be buried on top of Marilyn Monroe.
Brother-in-law of Barbara Marx, Susan Fleming and Dee Hartford
A famous gag toy was modeled after his face - the dark black glasses with big orange nose and mustache "disguise" toy (known as the "Beagle-Puss" in the gag shop market.).
There are at least two versions of how Julius Henry Marx got his more famous nickname. One is that it came from his general disposition. The other, that, during the Marx Brothers' early days in vaudeville, he was the keeper of the act's "grouch bag" or money purse. Groucho, himself, said, on one occasion, "my own name, I never did understand."
George Fenneman, Groucho's announcer on You Bet Your Life (1950), was once asked if Groucho ever embarrassed him on the air. "Each and every show," Fenneman replied.
Nephew of actor Al Shean.
In the 1950s Groucho was invited to take a tour of the New York Stock Exchange. While in the observation booth, he grabbed the public address system handset and began singing "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". Upon hearing silence coming from the trading floor, he walked into view, was given a loud cheer by the traders, and shouted, "Gentlemen, in 1929 I lost eight hundred thousand dollars on this floor, and I intend to get my money's worth!" For fifteen minutes, he sang, danced, told jokes, and all this time, the Wall Street stock ticker was running blank.
Groucho's show "You Bet Your Life" (on radio from 1947 to 1956 over ABC, CBS, and finally NBC) was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.
At the time of his death he was not aware that his brother Gummo Marx had passed away four months earlier. His family believed that it was a kindness not to tell him.
Son of Sam Marx and Minnie Palmer.
In 1989, the Republic of Abkhazia (in the former Soviet Georgia) proclaimed independence. To show the world they were rejecting their Communist past, they issued two postage stamps of Groucho Marx and John Lennon (as opposed to Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin).
Long-time companion of Erin Fleming.
There's a famous club in London called the Groucho, frequented by actors and celebrities. It got its name from the famous Groucho quote that he would not join any club that would accept him as a member.
Smashed a violin onstage at Carnegie Hall, in a mock "tribute" to Jack Benny.
Father-in-law of Sahn Berti
His double album "An Evening with Groucho" (A&M: 1972), recorded at a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, was a surprise best-seller and a Grammy nominee for Best Comedy Recording. His accompanist on that occasion was the then unknown Marvin Hamlisch.
Grandfather of actress Jade Marx-Berti.
Was the quiet, introverted middle brother of 5, and suffered the middle sibling condition. He never got as much attention as his older brothers (Chico Marx & Harpo Marx), who were wild and charming, or his two younger brothers (Zeppo Marx & Gummo Marx), who were cuter. The plus side of this outsider status was that he developed a cutting wit to get attention.
Was never much of a womanizer in real life (as were his older brother, Chico Marx & Harpo Marx), having joked later in life about his disastrous attempts at courting as a young man.
Was good friends with rock star Alice Cooper, often inviting him over at 11:00 pm to watch TV. A drawing of Groucho can also be seen on the cover of "Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits" album. In 1978, when the original giant white letters of the famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign were auctioned off in order to raise money for new replacement letters, Alice bought an "O" in memory of Groucho.
His cremated remains are entombed at Eden Memorial Park, San Fernando, California, USA.
He was voted, as one of The Marx Brothers, the 62nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by "Entertainment Weekly".
Was a close friend of "The Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty.
Was intended to make a joke on the set of William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) by appearing in Father Merrin's clothes when Ellen Burstyn opened the door. However, the idea was dropped due to scheduling conflicts.
He was portrayed by Lewis J. Stadlen in the Broadway show "Minnie's Boys," which ran at the Imperial Theatre for 80 Performances from Mar 26 to May 30, 1970. Stadlen won a 1970 Theatre World Award for his performance.
Was named, as The Marx Brothers, the #20 Greatest Actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends List by The American Film Institute.
Was a big fan of Gilbert & Sullivan (William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan) operettas and used to stage Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along evenings at his home. During the 1950s he appeared as Ko-Ko on NBC-TV in an acclaimed abridged version of "The Mikado.".
Carried on extensive correspondence with such literary giants as T.S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg. He also was well-known for attaching a hilarious P.S. to his most serious letters. According to Dick Cavett, Groucho added this P.S. to a lengthy account of his memories of Charles Chaplin from vaudeville days: ""Did you ever notice that Peter O'Toole has a double-phallic name?"
The success of The Marx Brothers at MGM was due to the genius of Irving Thalberg. Upon his untimely death, the quality of their films declined mainly because studio chief Louis B. Mayer did not care for them or their act.
The famous phrase "Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" is often referred to as a Groucho quote, but it was actually delivered by Chicolini (Chico Marx) in Duck Soup (1933) while impersonating Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho).
Great-uncle of Gregg Marx, Laura Guzik and Brett Marx
Knew Charles Chaplin during his vaudeville days.
Was in attendance at The Beatles 1964 Hollywood Bowl concert, and there is existing footage of him applauding.
His son Arthur Marx was once smoking a corncob pipe in his room when he heard his father coming down the hall. In a panic, he stuffed the still-lit pipe into a drawer. Groucho came in, sniffed the air and left without a word. A moment later he was back with a briar pipe and a pouch of tobacco. "This will be better than that corncob you're using," he said. Arthur asked if his father was angry and Groucho said, "Nonsense. Smoking won't hurt you. I've been smoking for years, and aside from the fact that I feel terrible all the time it hasn't hurt me, either!".
Came fifth in a Channel Four (UK) poll in 2005 to find the all-time favourite comedians' comedian.
In the Broadway play "A Day in Hollywood--A Night in the Ukraine," which opened on May 1, 1980, and closed on Sep 27, 1981 (for 588 performances), a Groucho-type character, Moscow lawyer Serge B. Samovar, was played by David Garrison.
Came to regret never going beyond grammar school. To compensate, he became a voracious reader in adulthood, famed for his literary knowledge. Furthermore, in addition to the aforementioned regular correspondence to noted authors, he wrote several books himself.
When he died in 1977, he left an estate valued at $2 million.
His father was a tailor.
He sang "Everybody Works But Father" in both English and German on The Dick Cavett Show (1968).
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for Radio at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard and for Television at 1734 Vine Street.
W.C. Fields said that The Marx Brothers was the only act he couldn't follow on the live stage. He is known to have appeared on the same bill with them only once, during an engagement at Keith's Orpheum Theatre in Columbus, OH, in January 1915. At the time the Marx Brothers were touring "Home Again", and it didn't take Fields long to realize how his quiet comedy juggling act was faring against the anarchy of the Marxes. Fields later wrote of the engagement (and the Marxes), "They sang, danced, played harp and kidded in zany style. Never saw so much nepotism or such hilarious laughter in one act in my life. The only act I could never follow . . . I told the manager I broke my wrist and quit".
Appears on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp, issued 11 August 2009, in the Early TV Memories issue honoring You Bet Your Life (1950).
Appeared as Johnny Carson's very first guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) where he introduced Carson to his newfound audience (October 1, 1962).
Maternal grandfather, Lafe Schonburg, was a magician and ventriloquist who toured Germany for over 50 years with his wife and three children, one of whom was Groucho's mother Minnie. The Schonburgs emigrated to the United States in 1860. Lafe Schonburg died in Chicago, IL in 1919 at the age of 101.
He along with his brothers star in five of the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Movies: Duck Soup (1933) at #5, A Night at the Opera (1935) at #12, A Day at the Races (1937) at #59, Horse Feathers (1932) at #65 and Monkey Business (1931) at #73.
His famous quote, "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members," first appeared in the gossip column of the Hearst newspaper's Erskine Johnson on October 20, 1949. Johnson claimed it came from Marx's resignation letter to the Friars Club.

Personal Quotes (56)

[on resigning from the Friars Club] I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
[when told that a swimming pool was off-limits to Jews] My son is half-Jewish; can he wade in up to his knees?
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
What do you say the three of us get married: You girls have everything, you're short and tall, and slim and stout, and blonde and brunette. And that's just the kind of girl I crave!
While shooting elephants in Africa, I found the tusks very difficult to remove. But in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa...
I started smoking as soon as I went on the stage. I'd make cigars out of the Morning World when I was a kid. Eventually I smoked Havanas. A cigar makers' organization once said that I was the most famous cigar smoker in the world. I don't know if that's true, but once while visiting Havana, I went to a cigar factory. There were four hundred people there rolling cigars, and when they saw me, they all stood up and applauded.
Because we were a kid act, we traveled at half-fare, despite the fact that we were all around 20. Minnie insisted we were 13. "That kid of yours is in the dining car smoking a cigar," the conductor told her, "and another one is in the washroom shaving." Minnie shook her head sadly. "They grow so fast . . . "
You're only as young as the woman you feel.
If you want to see a comic strip, you should see me in the shower.
Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
It looks as if Hollywood brides keep the bouquets and throw away the grooms.
I drink to make other people interesting.
There's one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him. If he says "Yes", you know he is crooked.
Behind every successful man stands a woman. And behind her stands his wife.
I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
My mother loved children--she would have given anything if I had been one.
From the moment I picked your book up until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows--marriage does.
In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.
The only game I like to play is Old Maid...provided she's not TOO old.
A moose is an animal with horns on the front of his head and a hunting lodge wall on the back of it.
[in the late 1960s, on how it felt to be an elder statesman of comedy] Like an old jerk.
When I heard about [the Broadway play] "Hair", I was kind of curious about the six naked primates on stage. So I called up the box office and they said tickets were $11 apiece. That's an awful price to pay. I went into the bathroom at home and took off all my clothes and looked in the mirror for five minutes. And I said, 'This isn't worth $11'.
People are most likely to listen to reason when in bed.
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?
[asked in 1975 if he'd seen any recent movies] I saw Jaws (1975). But I think it would have been funnier if a guppy had swallowed the boat instead of a shark.
One of the best hearing aids a man can have is an attentive wife.
I was so long writing my review that I never got around to reading the book.
She got her good looks from her father--he's a plastic surgeon.
Wives are people who feel that they don't dance enough.
The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.
[on Samson and Delilah (1949) starring Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature] Well, there's just one problem. No picture can hold my interest where the leading man's tits are bigger than the leading lady's.
Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.
A woman is an occasional pleasure, but a cigar is always a smoke.
He [Groucho's father] had absolutely no training, and if you had ever seen one of his suits, you'd realize what an accurate statement that is. You see, Pop never used a tape measure. He didn't believe in it. He said he could just look at a man and tell his size, with the result that frequently he'd make a pair of pants with one trouser leg seven or eight inches longer than the other.
I'd have liked to have gone to bed with Jean Harlow. She was a beautiful broad. The fellow who married her was impotent and he killed himself. I would have done the same thing.
[on Bob Hope] Hope? Hope is not a comedian. He just translates what others write for him.
[on Margaret Dumont] She was a wonderful woman. She was the same off the stage as she was on it -- always the stuffy, dignified matron. And the funny thing about her was she never understood the jokes. At the end of Duck Soup (1933) Margaret says to me, "What are you doing. Rufus?". And I say, "I am fighting for your honor, which is more than you ever did." Later she asked me what I meant by that.
Jerry Lewis hasn't made me laugh since he left Dean Martin.
[on Charles Chaplin] The greatest compliment I ever got was from Chaplin. He came up to me and said, "I wish I could talk like you on the screen". I said, "I think you're doing alright". He had made $50 million by that point. He was the best comedian we ever had.
There has never been a good comedian that didn't have a good straight man. Audiences don't *think* the straight man means anything, but it's very important.
[on Harry S. Truman's upset defeat of Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 Presidential elections] The only way a Republican will get into the White House now is to marry Margaret Truman.
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.
[after a visit to W.C. Fields' home] He had a ladder leading up to his attic. Without exaggeration, there was $50,000 worth of liquor up there. Crated up like a wharf. I'm standing there and Fields is standing there, and nobody says anything. The silence is oppressive. Finally, he speaks: "This will carry me for twenty-five years".
Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
I've been around so long, I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.
[Telegram to Judy Garland after losing the Best Actress Aaward to Grace Kelly] Dear Judy, This is the biggest robbery since Brink's.
[on the passing of his brother Harpo] Having worked with Harpo for forty years, which is longer than most marriages last, his death left quite a void in my life. He was worth all the wonderful adjectives that were used to describe him, He was a nice man in the fullest sense of the word. He loved life and lived it joyously and deeply, and that's about as good an epitaph as anyone can have.
I've always been terrified of dying broke or of being a failure. I've never taken a bit of success for granted. When it came, I was always sure it wasn't going to last.
[Feuding with another studio which had objected to the use of 'Casablanca' in an upcoming Marx Brothers movie] I just don't understand your attitude. Even if you plan on re-releasing your picture, I am sure the average movie fan could learn in time to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don't know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try. You claim that you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without your permission. What about 'Warner Brothers'? Do you own that too? You probably have the right to use the name 'Warner', but what about 'Brothers'? Even before us there had been other brothers - the Smith Brothers, the Brothers Karamozov...
He was a strange little man - this Charlie Chaplin. The first time I met him he was wearing what had formerly been a white collar and a black bow tie. I can't quite explain his appearance, but he looked a little like a pale priest who had been excommunicated but was reluctant to relinquish his vestments.
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Salary (2)

A Night at the Opera (1935) $175,000 + 15% of gross
A Day at the Races (1937) $175,000 + 15% of gross

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