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Groucho Marx (Julius Henry)

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Groucho Marx

Born: Oct 2, 1890 in New York City, NY
Died: Aug 19, 1977 in Los Angeles

Groucho was born Julius Henry Marx on Oct 2 1890 in New York. He was the third of the five surviving sons of Sam and Minnie Marx. He was the first of the brothers to start a stage career aged 15 in an act called The Leroy Trio. Other acts followed, but none of them was a great success. Twice the other members of the act disappeared overnight and left him penniless in places far away from home.

When his Brothers came on stage they finally has a success with the musical comedy called I'll Say She Is. It was at one of the performances of this show that Groucho got his painted moustache. He arrived late at the theater and used greasepaint to create a moustache. He found this so much easier than a glued-on moustache that he insisted on using this technique from then on.

I'll Say She Is is was followed by two more Broadway hits - The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers. The latter of which has the character of Captain Spaulding which remained (with the song Hooray for Captain Spaulding) a trademark for Groucho for the rest of his life.

The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers were also the first movies (except for one unreleased) made by the Brothers and were filmed in New York. The remaining movies were made in Hollywood.

In the later year of the Brothers movie career Groucho started working on radio. He hosted several programmes and was a guest on many shows. His biggest success was the comedy quiz show You Bet Your Life which started in 1947. The show later moved to television and was on the air until 1961.

Groucho also appeared in a few movies without his brothers (see below).

Always being a liberal, Groucho sometimes made critical remarks about politics and had friends which were regarded as communist the the US of the 1950s. This let to Groucho being investigated by the FBI.

When Marx Brothers became popular again in the late sixties/early seventies Groucho made a comeback with a show in Carnegie Hall in 1972.

At the film festival in Cannes in 1972 he was made Commandeur des Arts et Lettres and in 1974 he received a special Academy Award for the achievements of the Marx Brothers.

Groucho died on August 19th 1977 at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. His ashes are at Eden Memorial Park, San Fernando, California.

Groucho Marx appeared in the following movies:

Film TitleCharacter name
Humor Risk - 1921(Villain)  
The Cocoanuts - 1929Mr. Hammer  
Animal Crackers - 1930Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding  
Monkey Business - 1931A Stowaway  
The House That Shadows Built - 1931  
Horse Feathers - 1932Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff  
Hollywood on Parade No.5 - 1932  
Duck Soup - 1933Rufus T. Firefly  
A Night at the Opera - 1935Otis P. Driftwood  
Yours For the Asking - 1936Sunbather (extra)  
A Day at the Races - 1937Doctor Hugo Z. Hackenbush  
Sunday Night at the Trocadero - 1937Himself  
Room Service - 1938Gordon Miller  
At the Circus - 1939J. Cheever Loophole  
Go West - 1940S. Quentin Quale  
The Big Store - 1941Wolf J. Flywheel  
Screen snapshots No. 8 - 1943  
Screen snapshots No. 2 - 1943Himself  
A Night in Casablanca - 1946Ronald Kornblow  
Copacabana - 1947Lionel Q. Deveraux  
Love Happy - 1949Sam Grunion  
Mr. Music - 1950Himself  
Double Dynamite - 1951Emile J. Keck  
A Girl in Every Port - 1952Benjamin Linn  
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? - 1957George Schmidlap  
The Story of Mankind - 1957Peter Minuit  
Showdown at Ulcer Gulch - 1958  
Skidoo - 1968God  

Important dates in the life of Groucho Marx:

2 Oct 1890Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx is born
1909The Three Nightingales: Groucho and Gummo are joined by Mabel O'Donell for this singing trio managed by Minnie Marx
Jan 1910Harpo joins The Three Nightingales to form The Four Nightingales
Feb 1910When joined by Minnie Marx and aunt Hannah Schickler The Four Nightingales become The Six Mascots
1912Fun in Hi Skule is the first musical sketch of the Brothers. This half-hour 'school act' features the four brothers, Paul Yates and others
1913Mr. Green's Reception is a followup to Fun in Hi Skule
1914Home Again is developed from the second half of Mr. Green's Reception
1918In The Cinderella Girl Zeppo replaces Gummo. This musical comedy is written by Jo Swerling with music by Gus Kahn
4 Feb 1920Groucho marries Ruth Johnson
1921On the Mezzanine Floor (in England: On the Balcony) a musical revue written by Herman Timberg, produced by Benny Leonard
1921The silent movie Humorisk is made with money raised by a friend. Director is Jo Swerling. It was made in two weeks at Fort Lee, NJ. studios and in a studio at 49th St. and 10th Ave. in New York. No copy exists of this (unfinished?) film.
21 Jul 1921Arthur, son of Groucho and Ruth, born
19 May 1924Stage show I'll say she is, scripted by Will B. Johnstone, opens at the Casino Theater in New York
8 Dec 1925Stage show The Cocoanuts opens at the Lyric and runs for 275 performances, a full season on Broadway, as well as two years on the road.
6 Jan 1926Groucho's piece "A Lift From Groucho Marx" is published in the New York Herald Tribune
19 May 1927Miriam, daughter of Groucho and Ruth, born
23 Oct 1928Stage show Animal Crackers opens at the 44th Street Theater and runs for 191 performances. It was laid off the following summer, went on tour in mid-October.
1929Groucho's first book Beds is serialized in the magazine 'College Humor'
3 Aug 1929Film The Cocoanuts released
1930Groucho first book Beds published
6 Sep 1930Film Animal Crackers released
20 Dec 1930Groucho's piece, "My Poor Wife" (relating sympathy for his wife's tedious life with a famous comedian), appeared in Collier's.
5 Jan 1931The Marxes appear at the London Palace Theatre
19 Sep 1931Film Monkey Business released
31 Aug 1932Film Horse Feathers released
28 Nov 1932Groucho's & Chico's radio series "Beagle, Shyster & Beagle" (later: "Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel") debuts on NBC
24 Nov 1933Film Duck Soup released
22 Nov 1933New York Premiere of "Duck Soup"
1934Groucho appears in a revival of the play Twentieth Century
15 Nov 1935Film A Night at the Opera released
24 Jul 1936Film Yours For the Asking released. Groucho is an uncredited extra in this.
1937The film The King and the Chorus Girl, written by Groucho and Norman Krasna, appears
11 Jun 1937Film A Day at the Races released
30 Sep 1938Film Room Service released
15 Nov 1938Groucho appeared on NBC radio's "The Bob Hope Show."
1939The Kellog's Show on radio with Groucho and Chico
20 Oct 1939Film At the Circus released
6 Dec 1940Film Go West released
1941until 1942 Groucho is a regular guest on The Rudy Vallee Show
20 Jun 1941Film The Big Store released
1942Groucho's book Many Happy Returns is published. It deals with income taxes
15 Jul 1942Groucho and Ruth get divorced
8 Nov 1942Groucho's piece, "Groucho Marx Turns Himself For Scrap," appeared in the New York Herald Tribune Sunday Supplement, This Week.
9 Dec 1942Groucho appeared on radio on "Mail Call #14".
10 Nov 1943"Groucho's New Idea" (i.e., a chat show called "Goulash at Groucho's") was revealed in the pages of Variety.
1 Dec 1943Groucho MCs "Mail Call #67" on radio.
1944Groucho starts a radio series The Pabst Show but is soon replaced by Danny Kaye
14 Jan 1945Groucho is a guest on the "Philco Radio Hall Of Fame"
21 Jul 1945Groucho marries Kay Gorcey
11 Oct 1945Groucho appeared on "Bird's Eye Open House."
8 Nov 1945Groucho appeared on "Bird's Eye Open House."
22 Nov 1945Groucho appeared on "Bird's Eye Open House"
6 Dec 1945Groucho appeared on "Bird's Eye Open House."
22 Dec 1945Groucho's "The Customers Always Write" appeared in the 'Trade Winds' Column of the Saturday Review.
1946Melinda, daughter of Groucho and Kay Gorcey, born
10 May 1946Film A Night in Casablanca released
1947Groucho starts his show You Bet Your Life which runs until the 60's on radio and from 1950 also on TV
12 Jan 1947Groucho is a guest on "Philco Radio Time"
30 May 1947Film Copacabana released
27 Sep 1948The play Time for Elizabeth by Groucho and Norman Krasna opens on Brodway but only runs for 8 performances
12 Dec 1948Groucho's article "Why Harpo Doesn't Talk" is published in "This Week".
13 Jan 1949Groucho appeared on "Kraft Music Hall," hosted by Al Jolson.
29 Nov 1949Groucho appeared on Armed Forces Radio's "Command Performance #404."
3 Mar 1950Film Love Happy released
12 May 1950Groucho and Kay get divorced
28 Dec 1950Mr. Music released. Groucho played himself in this Bing Crosby movie.
24 Dec 1951Film Double Dynamite released. It had been held back by producer Howard Hughes for three years.
Jan 1952Film A Girl in Every Port released
11 Oct 1952Groucho appeared on NBC television's "All Star Revue."
10 Nov 1952Groucho appeared on the pilot episode of "The Bob Hope Show."
19 Nov 1952Melinda appeared on "You Bet Your Life" (radio).
31 Jan 1954Groucho appears on the "Colgate Comedy Hour" on NBC TV
17 Jul 1954Groucho marries Eden Hartford
16 Oct 1954The fifth installment of the serialization of Arthur Marx's book, "Life With Groucho," appeared as "My Old Man Groucho" in Saturday Evening Post No. 16.
18 Dec 1954At the 'Look' TV Awards Groucho is presented with an award
13 Jan 1955Melinda Marx made an appearance on "You Bet Your Life" (television).
18 Jan 1955Groucho has a cameo in "Shower Of Stars" on CBS TV.
15 Dec 1956Groucho, Eden, and Melinda Marx were joined by Gina Lolobrigida, Johnny Ray, and Joe Stafford on an episode of "The Perry Como Show" celebrating NBC's 30th Anniversary.
29 Jul 1957Film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? released
8 Nov 1957Film The Story of Mankind released. Chico, Harpo and Groucho appear in this film, but not together in one scene
19 Nov 1958Groucho was a guest on NBC television's "Jack Paar Show."
1959Groucho's book Groucho and me is published. A highly fictional autobiography
8 Mar 1959The TV film The Incredible Jewel Robbery is the last film to have three Marx Brothers
29 Apr 1960A TV production of The Mikado has Groucho as Koko
6 Dec 1960Groucho appeared on "Open End," hosted by David Susskind, with the subject of "Humor and Such" (this was the pilot for "Happy Talk").
8 Nov 1963Groucho appeared on NBC television's "Today Show" with Hugh Downs, Jack Lescoulie, Pat Fountaine, and Frank Blair.
10 Nov 1963Groucho substitutes for David Susskind in hosting Julie Newmar, Arlene Dahl, and Georgia Brown on "Open End."
19 Nov 1964Groucho was a guest on the "Les Crane Show."
1965Groucho's book Memoirs of a Mangy Lover published
1967Groucho's book The Groucho Letters published
19 Dec 1968Film Skidoo released
4 Dec 1969Groucho and Eden Hartford get divorced
20 Dec 1971Groucho appeared with Erin Fleming on the "Dick Cavett Show" on ABC television.
1972Solo concert with Groucho in Ames, Iowa
1972at the Cannes Film Festival Groucho is made 'Commandeur des Arts et Lettres' by the French government
6 May 1972Solo concert with Groucho at Carnegie Hall in New York
1974Groucho receives a Special Academy Award in recognition of a lifetime's achievement
16 Jan 1977The Marxes are inducted to the Motion Picture Hall of Fame
19 Aug 1977Groucho dies
1992The book "Love, Groucho (Letters from Groucho Marx to his daughter Miriam)" is published
This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

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