Today marks 126 years to the day since Julius Henry Marx (Groucho to you and me) entered the world. Here’s some prime Groucho, from ‘ANIMAL CRACKERS’:
35 years later, after the passing of Chico and Harpo, Groucho re-enacted this sketch while hosting TV’s ‘HOLLYWOOD PALACE’. While he was without his brothers, legendary foil Margaret Dumont turned up for one last appearance alongside him. Aged 82, she’s still recognisable as the same statuesque dowager who added so much to the Marxes’ shows and films. It has sometimes been said that she could pull of such parts convincingly because she was in real life bereft of humour and bemused by the brothers’ antics, but I’ve never bought this. She certainly seems to be having a good giggle at Groucho during this scene, anyway! Sadly, just a few days after filming this, she too passed away.
Of course, before it was ever a film, ‘ANIMAL CRACKERS’ was a hit Broadway musical. The Marxes’ musicals and stage tours are all set to be covered in a new book. ‘FOUR OF THE THREE MUSKETEERS: THE MARX BROTHERS ON STAGE’ by Robert S Bader promises to be”the first comprehensive history of the foursome’s hardscrabble early years honing their act in front of live audiences”. It’s available October 15, with a list price of $35.00. Here’s some more information.