Happy birthday Groucho Marx!

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Groucho Marx (October 2, 1890—August 19, 1977) was an American comedian. He appeared on vaudeville as well as on film, television, and radio. He is the most famous of the Marx Brothers, who made 13 films together in all.

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An early photo of the Marx brothers with their parents in New York City, 1915. From left to right: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother), Zeppo, Frenchie (father), Chico, and Harpo. (source)

Marx was born Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx in Manhattan, New York to Miene "Minnie" Schoenberg and Simon "Sam" Marx. His mother was of German descent and his father's family had been from Alsace-Lorraine. Marx was the third of five sons and his maternal uncle was a well-known vaudeville act.

His mother really wanted Marx and his brothers to have careers in entertainment, and despite there being little musical talent between them, she managed to assemble three of them along with another boy into a singing group. They toured the vaudeville circuit with little success.

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During one particularly bad reception while "The Four Nightingales" (as they were billed) were singing, they began to crack jokes on stage for their own amusement. The audience responded much better to their humor than to their music. Before long, group had developed skits that relied on ethnic stereotypes of the time, with Leonard Marx playing an Italian, Arthur Marx playing an Irishman, and Julius (Groucho) Marx himself playing a German, which later transformed into the wise-guy that he became known for.

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Soon, Broadway was interested in the comedy troupe and they created three hit plays.

By the time the Marx Brothers began to make movies, they were all well-reputed comedians. Some of their movies include The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), and A Night at the Opera (1935). Together, they made 13 in all, and Groucho Marx made another 13 on his own.

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In 1947, Marx was asked to host the radio quiz program You Bet Your Life on ABC and CBS. By 1950, it moved to television as well and remained on NBC for 11 years.

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Marx became known for hurling hilarious insults at his company, often in restaurants and in other public situations. He was also known as a formidable ad libber.

Marx's nose-glasses became a trademark of his appearance, and he often wasn't recognized without them.

Marx wrote several books including Groucho and Me (1959) and Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1963).

From the end of the 1960s through the end of 1970s, Marx appeared in a few films including Skidoo (1968) and The Candidate (1972). Encouraged (some say too aggressively) by his companion, Erin Fleming, Marx appeared in a live one-man show in the early 1970s. He also recorded a double album.

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Selected works:

 

 

 

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 02 October 2014
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