Groucho Marx, born on October 2, 1890, was an American actor, comedian, and television, radio, and stage star. He was considered America’s greatest comedian and known as “a master of quick wit.” He was the third in a brood of five brothers. Marx’s career started in vaudeville. He and his brothers became a group act and even after he joined Hollywood, half of his movies featured two of his brothers, Chico and Harpo. His career spanned more than seven decades. He’s gone ahead of us but his special day and his life and times deserve to be remembered.
Julius Henry Marx
October 2, 1890
August 19, 1977 (age 86)
Julius Henry Marx, popularly known as Groucho Marx, was born on October 2, 1890, in Manhattan, New York to Sam and Minnie. Marx was considered a “master of quick wit” and the greatest comedian in America. He was best known for his incredible talent in delivering one-liners and quips. An anecdote has it that when Marx was visiting Montreal, a priest shook his hand and said, “I want to thank you for all the joy you’ve put into this world.” To which Marx smilingly replied, “And I wanna thank you for all the joy you’ve taken out of this world!”
His siblings were Zeppo, Chico, Gummo, and Harpo. At an early age, the brothers were influenced to join the entertainment industry by their uncle Al Shean. They started their career by forming a singing group called The Four Nightingales in vaudeville. Their foray into the entertainment world, however, was not a walk in the park. They performed in their first successful show “Fun In Hi Skule” only in 1910. When the brothers joined Hollywood, Marx adopted a distinctive appearance where he grease-painted his mustache and eyebrows, and always had a cigar in his mouth. Marx’s brothers, Harpo and Chico, were featured in 13 of the 26 movies Marx made. Marx made his radio debut in 1947 when he hosted “You Bet Your Life,” a quiz program. The program was later moved to television in 1950. Marx would crack jokes during the show and introduce songs such as ‘Hello I Must Be Going.’
While Marx found success in his professional life, his personal life didn’t quite make the grade. He was married thrice and every marriage ended in divorce. Although Marx had no formal education, he wrote his autobiography and several other books. He died on August 19, 1977.
Marx starts his career in vaudeville and gets his first breakthrough.
Marx and his brothers make movies such as “Animal Crackers” and “The Cocoanuts.”
He hosts “You Bet Your Life,” a quiz show.
Marx continues hosting the quiz program which runs for 11 years.
Groucho writes eight books, including his own autobiography.
He continues working until he is in his ‘80s; he does a one-man show at Carnegie Hall.
Why We Love Groucho Marx
He was funny
Marx’s exaggerated features such as his mustache, eyebrows, and spectacles are funny enough to look at. We can imagine how he made his performances even funnier with his witty quips, ad-lib spiels, and improvisations.
He was multitalented
Groucho not only acted in movies and T.V. shows. He also directed, created, and wrote many of these shows.
He was a loving father
Groucho was a loving, caring father. According to his eldest daughter Miriam, he was a strict parent and a homebody who did his own grocery shopping. She once said he was moody and difficult sometimes, but overall, she loved him.
5 Surprising Facts
He assumed a German persona
Marx chose an extremely German persona for his character whenever he performed on stage; his brother Chico used an Italian accent while Harpo acted like an Irishman.
He described his perfect woman
Marx said his perfect woman resembled Marilyn Monroe (a movie star) and talked like George Kaufman (a playwright and humorist).
Audiences laughed, no matter what
In a film Marx did with actress Margaret Dumont, audiences laughed at his verbal insults directed at her; he said she never actually understood that he cracked jokes at her expense.
He inspired the Beaglepuss
A toy known as Beaglepuss (made up of black glasses, an orange nose, and a big mustache) was modeled after Marx’s face.
Initially refused to be a radio host
When approached to do a radio quiz show, he said it should be done only by washed-up actors.
Groucho Marx FAQs
What was Groucho’s dream?
Groucho wanted to be a doctor when he was young, but he dropped out of school at age 12 so he could help his poor family.
Did he receive acting awards?
No, he received no nominations from major film award-giving bodies but was bestowed an honorary Academy Award in 1974.
What can one read on his gravestone?
His gravestone bears no epitaph, but before he died, he suggested one: “Excuse me, I can’t stand up.”
Groucho Marx’s birthday dates