The Marx Brothers
Harpo Speaks!

(using Google)

BBC Radio

In a radio programme called "The Birth of Screen Comedy" going out on 28 November 2000 on BBC2 they had a recording of Harpo speaking. He was telling how he was falling off a stool in a bar where he was playing the piano and finally a doctor came and found that he had the measels. (This might be from recordings made by Harpo in preparation of the book "Harpo speaks".)
Click on these links to listen to Harpo:
with introduction (1min 44 sec, WAV, 1.12MB). This is Harpo speaking with an introduction by the presenter Richard Curtis and comments from Bill Marx
Harpo only (31sec, WAV, 330KB). This is just the bit with Harpo

Entertainment Tonight with Leonard Maltin

Some years ago (1992?), Leonard Maltin did a bit on his show on ET about the deterioration of tons of old footage in the UCLA film archives - images that are on a highly volatile nitrate film. As an example of something that we would lose to Father Time, he used an old film of Harpo getting caught speaking as a camera was rolling.

The year was 1936, and Harpo was attending the premiere of "The Great Ziegfeld". He was to be introduced by someone at an open mike (possibly Nick or Joseph Schenck), and the camera began rolling a bit early. The footage shows Harpo saying to the other person something like "You're going to have to do all of the talking!". Then he is officially introduced and you hear him saying "Honk, honk".

Click here for a clip from the TV program.
This is a WAV-file (220KB, 20 sec.) with the voice of Harpo and the commentary from Leonard Maltin.

Other recordings

Other recordings of his voice have been made. On the record album, "Three Hours, fifty nine minutes, ... with the Marx Bros." there is a bit from a show with Harpo and Bing Crosby and Harpo "groans" into the microphone as a pantomime way to get Crosby to sing.

Also, there is a tailor-made record for Alexander Woollcott upon the occasion of his birthday. There is an appropriate pause within the addresses by the acknowledged cast of characters. Another voice serves forth (something like "Happy Birthday, Alex".) Judgement assumes that this was Harpo, as well.

Similarly there is another tailor-made record made in 1930 for Neysa McMein, a member of the Algonquin Round Table. On the LP "Personalities on Parade" it is stated that you can hear Harpo say "Neysa, how is the old Fanny", but the voice does not sound like in any of the other recordings. At least we can assume that it is him playing the harp.

There is also supposed to be a recording of Harpo in his later years singing the song, "Oh, How That Woman Could Cook."

Much debate is still going on whether Harpo can be heard singing in the opening sequence of Monkey Business. There are as many people claiming that they can hear four voices as others that can only distinguish three.

Some information provided by Ira Dolnick, Jay Hopkins, Wayne Boenig and others I unfortunately have lost track of.

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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