The "Why A Duck" Contest

"Why A Duck?" @

The Marx Brothers
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The pages under were originally created by Frank Bland for his site

Well, it's all over but the shouting (and I expect at least a little of that). All the entries have been graded and prizes awarded. If you'd like to see a list of winners, just scroll down to the bottom of the page.

In most cases the answers to these questions show up in various places, but some are pretty obscure. In these cases I have cited my sources. Also, there are a few questions where I was either going on erroneous information or I chose misleading wording. In these cases I'm allowing not only my intended answers but also the "more correct" ones (these will be obvious when you get there).

It's been an interesting experience, running this contest, and while I've had a good time doing it, I must admit it has been a bit of a headache. But you don't need to hear my woes...You came for the contest results! So here they are...

  1. At the age of five, Groucho accompanied his mother, Minnie, and his brother, Chico, on a trip to Minnie's home town. What is the name of the town and who financed the trip? (2 parts)

    The town the three traveled to was Dornum, Germany, courtesy of a cousin by the name of Samuel Wolfenstein (The Groucho Phile)

  2. Groucho made his performing debut with what traveling group?

    The Leroy Trio (The Groucho Phile [correcting the earlier "Groucho and Me" entry where Groucho changed the name to protect the guilty])

  3. One of Harpo's first jobs was as a piano player, though he only knew two tunes. How did he manage to get this job?

    By impersonating Chico

  4. What was Gummo's first job in show business?

    He masqueraded as a ventriloquist's dummy in an act with his uncle, Henry

  5. In the 1910s, the Marx Brothers performed on Vaudeville's Orpheum Circuit. They were followed on the bill for a time by a young fiddle player who later became famous. Who was he?

    Benny Kubelski, a.k.a. Ben Benny, a.k.a. Jack Benny (any combination of these will do)

  6. Harpo actually had a "speaking" role (without his brothers) in a silent film in 1925. What was the title of the film?

    Too Many Kisses

  7. Name the characters played by each of the Marxes in the stage version of "The Cocoanuts" (4 parts)

    Groucho: Henry Schlemmer; Zeppo: Jamison; Harpo: Silent Sam; Chico: Willie The Wop (from an original program from the play)

  8. Who was the choreographer for the stage version of "Animal Crackers," and what famous dance team is he known for having founded? (2 parts)

    Russell Markert, in addition to acting as choreographer for this play, also founded "The Rockettes" (Hector Arce's "Groucho")

  9. After the Marxes became popular on the New York stage, Groucho bought a home on Long Island. What was the address?

    21 Lincoln Road, Great Neck, NY (The Groucho Phile)

  10. What was the title of the first Marx Brothers film ever produced?

    Humor Risk (no points off for spelling...I've never figured out for sure how it's actually spelled either)

  11. What is the most significant and unusual feature of the bellboys in the Marx Brothers' movie, "The Cocoanuts?"

    They were girls (sometimes it is the easy one)

  12. Before moving to Hollywood in 1931, at which studio were The Marx Brothers' films shot?

    Paramount's Astoria Studios in Queens (sometimes called "Kaufman Astoria Studios")

  13. In "Horsefeathers" what is unusual about the blocks of ice Baravelli and Pinky deliver to Wagstaff in his office?

    They contain liquor bottles.

  14. When the Screen Actors Guild was founded in 1933, what office did Groucho hold?

    He was Treasurer (Hector Arce's "Groucho")

  15. Harpo Marx travelled to the USSR in the fall of 1933 for a brief tour. As an American performer in the Soviet Union, what was the most significant thing about Harpo's trip?

    He was the first American performer to appear in the Soviet Union after the revolution (some people pointed out that he performed some covert activities while performing there and, while this is certainly true, I was going for his significance as an American performer, not simply as an American)

  16. In 1933, Leo McCarey directed "Duck Soup" for the Marxes (which was a flop at the box office but has since become a classic). In 1944, McCarey won an Oscar for Best Director. What was the film and who was the star? (2 parts)

    "Going My Way" starred Bing Crosby.

  17. For the production of "Duck Soup," Paramount borrowed an actor from the Hal Roach studio. What was the actor's name?

    Edgar Kennedy

  18. The brother of the actor in the question above was also featured in a Marx Brothers film. What was the name of the movie and who was the actor? (2 parts)

    "Monkey Business" featured Tom Kennedy.

  19. Charles Drake and Sig Ruman both appeared in "A Night In Casablanca." What other film (without the Marxes) do they have in common?

    "The Glenn Miller Story."

  20. Zeppo left The Marx Brothers (as a performer) when they lost their Paramount contract after the failure of "Duck Soup." What business did he go into?

    He became an agent.

  21. Thelma Todd appeared in two Marx Brothers films. In 1931 she appeared in a film based on a book that was again adapted for the screen several years later as a starring vehicle for another actor. What title did both pictures share, and who was the star of the second version? (2 parts)

    Both films were named for the book upon which they were based, "The Maltese Falcon." The second version starred Humphrey Bogart.

  22. In 1937 Groucho co-wrote a screenplay that was never produced. Who was his co-writer, who was the intended star of the film, what was the title of the screenplay, and what is the chief reason it was never produced? (4 parts)

    Ken Englund co-wrote the screenplay for "Madcap Mary Mooney," which was supposed to feature Carole Lombard in the lead role. The screenplay was never produced, mainly because of the death of Amelia Earheart. (I think that covers everything...And in case you're wondering, I found this out from Robert S. Bader's outstanding foreword to "Groucho Marx and Other Short Stories and Tall Tales.")

  23. In 1940, Groucho was working with Irving Brecher on a situation comedy for radio for which he was the intended star. The pilot never sold. What was the intended title of the show, and under what title did it eventually appear starring what actor? (3 parts)

    "The Flotsam Family" was retitled "The Life of Riley," which starred William Bendix (Jackie Gleason is also an acceptable answer for the star)

  24. Nat Pendleton appeared in two Marx Bros. films, "Horse Feathers" and "At The Circus." He was also featured in the first starring vehicle for another famous comedy team. What was the comedy team in question, and what was the name of the film? (2 parts)

    Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's "Buck Privates."

  25. Groucho and Chico did a radio program together in 1932/33. What was the original name of the show?

    Beagle, Shyster, and Beagle

  26. Who presented Harpo with a Harp strung with barbed wire?

    Salvador Dali

  27. The Marx Brothers reportedly got into a bit of hot water with Warner Brothers over one of their movies. What was the name of the film and what caused the controversy? (2 parts)

    Warner Brothers was miffed because they thought the title of "A Night In Casablanca" infringed on their rights (i.e., it contained the name "Casablanca")

  28. During their career as a team, The Marx Brothers starred in only one film that wasn't written especially for them. This film was remade several years later as a musical. What was the title of the film, what was the title of the remake and who was the star in the remake? (3 parts)

    "Room Service" was remade as "Step Lively" starring Frank Sinatra.

  29. Besides Margaret Dumont and the Marxes themselves, what actor or actress appeared in the most Marx Brothers films and how many films did he or she appear in? (2 parts)

    Sig Rumann appeared in three films: "A Night At The Opera," "A Day At The Races," and "A Night In Casablanca."

  30. There is only one hit song commonly associated with a Marx Brothers film. What song was it and how long did it top the charts? (2 parts)

    According to Hector Arce's "Groucho," "Alone" was number one for 17 weeks in 1936. However, one person pointed out that Zimmerman's book shows "Alone" at the top of the "Lucky Strike" charts for 16 weeks, while another claimed it topped the "Your Hit Parade" charts for 5 weeks. Since I didn't point out which charts I was referring to, as long as you get the song right you get full credit.

  31. What was the first feature film Groucho appeared in without his brothers?

    As some have pointed out to me, Groucho was an extra in "Yours For The Asking" in 1936. I was actually looking for "Copacabana," which was his first starring role without his brothers. However, this isn't the way the question was worded, so I'll accept either answer.

  32. Harpo Marx once had a pet seagull. What was the name of this bird?


  33. Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont appeared together for the last time on what television program in what year? (2 parts)

    The Hollywood Palace, 1965.

  34. The original audition record for "You Bet Your Life" featured an announcer who was better known as the announcer of another popular radio program of the time. Who was the announcer, and on what program did he regularly appear? (2 parts)

    Jack Slattery was the regular announcer on Art Linkletter's "House Party." (The Secret Word Is Groucho)

  35. The voice of "You Bet Your Life" announcer George Fenneman was regularly featured on what popular drama?

    Jack Webb's "Dragnet" (The Secret Word Is Groucho)

  36. Who was the original musical director of "You Bet Your Life" and why was he finally discharged. (2 parts)

    Here I was looking for Jerry Fielding, who was discharged for reasons stemming from his investigation by the U.S. government during the McCarthy "witch hunt." However, several people have pointed out to me that he was not the first musical director of the program -- rather the third. Billy May was the first. So I'll give credit for either one, even though my answer is clearly incorrect.

  37. During the run of "You Bet Your Life," George Fenneman hosted what short-lived radio program for ABC?

    "The Perfect Husband" (The Secret Word Is Groucho)

  38. Elgin American was the first sponsor of "You Bet Your Life." Why did the company terminate its sponsorship?

    Due to the popularity of the program, they sold out their entire product line. (The Secret Word Is Groucho)

  39. What 1960s TV father starred in what film written by which offspring of which Marx Brother? (4 parts)

    Ozzie Nelson starred in "The Impossible Years," penned by Arthur Marx, Groucho's son.

  40. In 1969, Groucho's photo was used on the album cover of a popular recording comedy group. What was the name of the group and what was the title of the album? (2 parts)

    The Firesign Theatre's "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?"

  41. Groucho's son, Arthur, was a competitor in what sport?


  42. Groucho was constantly trying to get his younger daughter, Melinda, into the entertainment business, but she hated it. What popular musical motion picture did she appear in?

    "Bye, Bye Birdie"

  43. Ann Ronell composed the musical score for the Marxes' last picture, "Love Happy." Ronell's first work for film was as lyricist for what famous song (the title of which was also the title of the film in which it appeared)?

    "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" (This according to a Lincoln Center Library exhibit of Ronnell's work...She lost a court battle over the credit for this piece, however.) Unfortunately, my parenthetical remark in this question was a bit misleading, because the movie the song appeared in was actually called "The Three Little Pigs." Sorry about that.

  44. What was the original title of "Love Happy?"

    "Diamonds In The Sidewalk" (certain variations are also acceptable, provided you got the idea across)

  45. "Love Happy" is considered by many to have been a pioneering film in the use of product placement (i.e., the view or mention of a product or brand name in a film in return for financial backing). But the Marx Brothers' films featured "product placement" (without the financial backing) long before this movie was produced. What brand name was mentioned in what song from "Animal Crackers" and who was the singer? (3 parts)

    "Frigidaire" is mentioned in "Why Am I So Romantic?" sung by Lillian Roth.

  46. The Chico Marx Orchestra at one time featured a young singer who later became famous. Who was the singer?

    Mel Torme

  47. Groucho was a long-time fan of the work of Gilbert and Sullivan. What was the name of the actor who introduced Groucho to the work of this duo?

    Edward Metcalf, who worked with the Marxes on the stage and in the movies. (Hector Arce's "Groucho")

  48. Norman Krasna wrote a play loosely based on the lives of Groucho and his family. What was the title?

    "Dear Ruth"

  49. In February 1950, Harpo appeared at the opening of a hotel with Jack Benny and Danny Kaye. For this appearance he agreed to be paid in supposedly oil-rich land that was later discovered to be worthless. What was the name of the hotel and in what city was it constructed? (2 parts)

    The Shamrock Hotel, Houston, Texas (Hector Arce's "Groucho")

  50. In 1974, Groucho performed his one-man show, "An Evening With Groucho," at Carnegie Hall. Who was his piano accompanist?

    Marvin Hamlisch (and the year was oops)

And Here Comes the Winners!

Well, all I can say is it was close! As a matter of fact, there was a total of half a point between the four top scorers. And since there was a tie for third place (first and second were separated by a quarter point -- likewise second and third), I've decided to award two third-place prizes instead of one. So here are the winners and what they won.

First Place -- Wayne E. Boenig -- $50 Gift Certificate from
Second Place -- Aimee Darmer -- $30 Gift Certificate from
Third Place -- Ira J. Dolnick and Joel G. Harris -- $20 Gift Certificate from

And that's all she wrote. Except, I would like to point out all the honorable mentions. As I said when I started this thing, all those scoring at least 80% of the final top score would get on the honor roll. Here's how it all stacked up, in alphabetical order:

The High Honor Roll -- 90% and Above

The Honor Roll -- 80% and Above

Finally, here are a couple of special awards:

The Most Entries by a Single Person

Aimee Darmer, our second place winner, is also the winner in this category, hands down. Aimee did her best to make my life interesting by sending in no less than 17 entries and updates!

The Lowest Scoring Completed Entry

Gerald R. Yowell wins this category...No contest here. But one of the most impressive things about Gerald's entry is that he answered every single question and only got 3.5 out of fifty! Of course, some of his answers were pretty bizarre, which brings us to the next category...

The Most Entertaining Answer to a Single Question

Gerald R. Yowell wins again. In question three, when I asked, "One of Harpo's first jobs was as a piano player, though he only knew two tunes. How did he manage to get this job?" Gerald's response was "He threatened to beat up the owner of the bordello." Of course, he also claimed that Gummo's first job in show business was scraping the gum off of theater seats. (Who knows? He might be right!) The other fascinating thing about Gerald's entry is that he actually got half of question eight correct, and I'll bet he wasn't answering it seriously!

So, there you have it. As I've said before, I've had a great time running this contest, but don't look for another one in the near future. But, thanks for playing, or not, as the case may be.

Contents     Marx of Time     Career Info     Pictures     Audio & Video     Games     Marxes In The Sky     Miscellaneous     Communication/Feedback     Merchandise     Oscar Marx     Links     Why 'Why A Duck?'     Credits     Privacy Policy

©1995-2006, Frank M. Bland

The pages under were originally created by Frank Bland for his site Frank did kindly give me permission to use the contents of his site.

If you find text referring to "I" or "me" on pages under, this will usually refer to Frank.