The Unknown Marx Brothers Documentary – Inside The Marx Brothers Best

The Unknown Marx Brothers Documentary  – Inside The Marx Brothers Best


the Marx Brothers Groucho Chico and
Harpo were the biggest comedy stars of
their time the irreverent
anti-establishment
unpredictable they made depression-era
America rock with laughter and amazingly
their humor is as influential today as
it was when they made their classic
films those are the March brothers we
know and love if there’s a lot more to
their story
it all began a 19th century Germany
where their maternal grandparents ran a
traveling theatrical company maybe
Schoenberg was a bad magician Fanny was
a yodeling harpist when they came to
America their daughter Minnie was 15 7
years later the bright witty and
ambitious many married Sam marks
Frenchie as everybody called him was by
most accounts a very nice man a very
good cook but a very bad tailor Frenchie
and Minnie raised five boys but what few
know is that there was a sixth Mark’s
brother Chico was born after the
firstborn died and his name was Manfred
because Chico came after that many was
very attached
Leonard was born in 1887 as a boy Chico
and to hustle money in pool halls
racetracks and bars okay lady I sent him
right over
Chieko cause trouble from the time he
was quite young I mean he got into
gambling he was a compulsive gambler by
the time he was 12 once while delivering
a suit for his father he lost a bet and
the pants to a local hustler so he stole
Frenchy shears and hocked them to get
the pants back his stage character the
lovable con artist was already taking
shape it is very likely because whatever
love many was able to give was so
directed a chick of that chicle was
probably felt the most secure and
himself because he’s the one who wheeled
and dealed jobs for them and they’ll
probably never cracked open a book he
was very articulate and delightful she
gained used to give him you know $0.50 a
week got piano lessons and maybe he got
to the piano teacher once out of four
times because he’d gambled the 50 cents
away I’m on the way to the teacher
nobody ever had played the piano like
him before and nobody has ever played it
like him since it’s quite an unusual
technique that he developed all by
himself you know he worked very hard at
it but only when he had to the only time
he ever practiced at all was when he had
a show to do he left us this remarkable
legacy of how he played the piano and
people probably remember him more for
his piano playing than anything else
in 1888 Adolf was born in the shadow of
Chico’s gregariousness this child who
later changed his name to author and
finally Harpo became the good son
every day he would come home from school
he’d go by the window and he’d see the
man rolling the cigars and as he rolled
the cigars he made this remarkably
hideous looking face he couldn’t help it
it was just a reaction the man would go
and the cigar would be made and dad
thought that was one of the best-looking
men he had ever seen in his life he
developed the gooky as a result it
became a part of his act having mastered
the look Papa would pound on the window
do a cookie and it enraged the cigar
maker so began Huff was not totally
innocent challenging of authority
figures he taught himself how to play
the harp
having no resources to go out and get
lessons he learned on the job as playing
accompaniment for the brothers and they
incorporated the harp into the act daddy
was a great ragtime pianist and he had
fun at the piano but Harper was a really
great musician extraordinary harpist in
1890 the famous trio was completed when
Julius was born quiet and intellectually
curious he would frequently lock himself
in the bathroom to read stock piling
that lethal verbal arsenal that would be
his trade why he’s dead I’ll bet he just
using that as an excuse I was with him
no wonder he passed away oh I see then
it was murder will you marry me did he
leave you any money and to the second
question fight even as a boy Julius was
careful with money many would give him
fired pennies to buy bread
he would get a day-old blood for four
cents and squirrel away the rest
Groucho would always equate money with
securely the three Marx Brothers became
four in 1892 when Milton was born and
five in 1901 when Herbert became the
fifth Marx brother many’s boys were
raised in a poor immigrant neighborhood
on the Upper East Side of New York at
the turn of the century
mitties determination to see her son
succeed was possibly reflective of
feeling of failure in her own life and
feeling that these boys had it driven by
the ultimate stage mother they would do
anything to escape poverty that
willingness to do anything enable them
to survive the horrors a small-time
Bonneville the boys were doing so badly
in school they except for Groucho they
were all playing hooky that she decided
to put them all into show business so
they’d be in one place where she could
keep an eye they started as a family
singing at first it was a three than the
four Nightingale that’s Groucho looking
just like Harper with a gap-toothed
smile many years later
Groucho remembered one of his first
performance and I walked out on the
stage and there were sixteen musicians
sitting out front
dressed in evening clothes I’d never
seen anybody dressed in evening clothes
except my father when he got married
here was a 60-minute I was I was really
I was stiff with fright and but I
bellowed this song out I was young
enough to have courage in those days
anyhow this is where the chorus went of
course you must remember that I could
sing then somebody sweetheart I want to
be somebody’s heart beating all for me
somebody’s to arms around me when I feel
blue somebody sweetheart the Marx
Brothers there was no glamour in
vaudeville
they toured the country singing in
dilapidated theaters with only distant
and unrealistic dreams of success to
keep them going
the Feist boy would sing and gamma would
sing and hopper would sing and then I’d
say she was Chico was in the same town
that his brothers were in and when he
saw that they were playing he bribed the
guy in the pit who played the piano to
let him stand in for him
and when his brother saw him in the pit
they started throwing things at him and
he threw them back and he joined the act
a major breakthrough for the brothers
occurred in 1910 in of all places
mega-doses Texas they would do a show
and get on a train and move to the next
town and do another show what happened
is as they were in the middle of their
song and not a very good song at that a
man runs in and says runaway mules
runaway mules and the audience raced out
to see a runaway mule so Groucho was
just furious yeah when the audience
finally filed back in he made comments
comments like nag at doses full
Roach’s I think that was kind of thing
that they were saying but the people
thought it was funny and then apparently
dad decided in on the spur of the moment
to dive under a rug that was on the
stage and go across the stage under the
rug and Chico ran over and started
shooting the piano keys and they became
a comedy act as a result of this now
listen you’re making a big mistake
they’re funny fellas and I’ve got a play
that I’ve written that I like to explain
to you I like to read this man is good
fun on high school featured Groucho is
the stern professor a role he would
reprise 20 years later in horsefeathers
now then baboons what is the cause oh
that’s easy
twice is a captain Dennis a lieutenant
Dennis a corpuscle that’s fine
why don’t you borrow a hole and you so
don’t let the SAP run out the brothers
were an on-stage force but it was an act
of desperation by many that gave them
the push they needed in 1914 she had the
audacity to buy a full-page ad in the
trade magazine variety she brazenly
guaranteed that the Marx Brothers would
boost the box office or perform for free
it worked and from that point on they
were booked solid on the top beaurevel
circuits she took the name of Minnie
Palmer and she became an agent and when
Daddy joined the act one of the things
he discovered was that in order to sell
some of her act she excelled the Marx
Brothers cheaper so he very gently
because he adored many but he managed to
get the reins away and become the
manager and he stayed their manager
until the very end
I’m sincerely proud to greet you and
thank you very much for coming here
chika I’ve been a fan of yours mansae
this since I was about this high and
when I saw you in duck soup
are you really brothers well as far as I
know you know a lot of people asked me
here
are we really brothers and come half
we’ll talk how did you get your name
she’s gonna make any more pictures you
know pop up and really talk we don’t
think he can talk just played out for
them and never miss a putt that big
though how we got a name is a very
interesting thing one night the Marx
Brothers were involved in a backstage
game of stud poker and a comedian named
art Fisher was dealing and he dealt a
card to Leonard and he stopped and he
said wait a moment you’re always chasing
the chicks so we’re gonna call you Chico
Chico’s name came because in those days
a fellow who chase girls was called a
chicken chaser I got my name was about
15 years of age I I used to chase the
chicken I still chased him I don’t catch
him anymore I’m just waiting for a rainy
day I’m putting them on and then six he
put down four Julius who he decided to
call Groucho we used to wear a little
bag goes around the neck was called a
grouch bag in this bag we would keep our
pennies on marbles piece of candy you
wore a little grouch bag around your
neck with some money in it and you never
took it off when you slept and you never
took it off and that was maybe part of
the name Groucho and I got my name from
that cartoon you just read my own theory
was that he really was going by his
disposition that’s mean he wasn’t always
grouchy but he was grouchy a lot well
Harper got his name because obviously he
played the harp
when they were on the farm Zeppo who was
about 14 was sitting on a fence when
Daddy was walking down the road and when
he saw daddy
he went hi there Zeke and dad said hi
they’re Zep and it’s stuck
Zeppo was born when the face Zeppelin
came over to America that’s how he got
his name there was a freak apparently
with Ringling Brothers Circus hey I’ll
just add limb well they went ahead and
they did the show and then the following
day the reviews came out and said
something like last night’s bill at the
Orpheum Arthur Marx proved himself a
first-rate pantomimist however his
reputation as a comedian was rudely
shattered every time he opened his mouth
to speak and from that time on he never
spoke another word on stage just used
the horn and the whistle you know I’d be
lost without a telephone hippo was
always the Navy one he says look we’re
better than half the shows that are on
Broadway in Hanoi were always good we
didn’t think that we can make it
he was enormous ly optimistic about
everything that was the gambler in them
and Groucho was always pessimistic so
that when Chico came up with the idea of
doing a Broadway show
Groucho Groucho was terrified he said
why should anybody go see us on Broadway
for three dollars and 30 cents one for
55 cents they can see us in vaudeville
and chico said because we’re too good
for vaudeville he said we belong on
Broadway a cartoonist friend of checkers
had an idea for a new production that
would make use of leftover scenery being
stored near a vacant
in Philadelphia together he and Chico
combined existing Marx Brothers routines
with new material making it more of a
review than a traditional stage musical
I’ll say she is opened in Philadelphia
and June of 1923 and was an incident for
example one that hopper asked one of the
chorus girls to run across the stage in
the middle of Groucho’s love scene with
de menthe the audience roared and mechag
stayed after Broadway they took the
coconuts on the road touring until early
1928 I by the time they returned to the
Great White Way for animal crackers
their third-straight hit show business
had been revolutionized with talking
movies the latest rage Cremant like all
studios was desperate to sign performers
who could move and speak at the same
time they snapped up the Marx Brothers
and what’s more remarkable to me is that
five years after their success on
Broadway they made their first motion
pictures so they got 25 years on stage
before you ever see them in coconuts and
by that time they were all 40 years old
in the spring of 1929 the Marx has made
a talkie version of the career of the
brothers Marx that is until Chico’s
gambling really paid off Chico was a
bridge partner with every Tobin and
Chico said you know I don’t think we’re
finished and Irving said you’re not he
said you’ve been handled wrong
Chico talked Thalberg the savvy had a
production of MGM in two offering the
brothers an incredible deal Chico came
to his brothers and said Solberg’s
giving us a great contract and Harpo and
Groucho said we’re not signing any
contract because of what do you mean he
said we’re not signing unless you let us
manage your money and so Chico had to
give in but money wasn’t the key factor
in this deal Thal Briggs I was on
creative excellence the first thing he
did was to reunite them with playwright
George S Kaufman he said I’m gonna start
a whole unit at MGM just for you with
your own writers in your own director he
said you’ll wait and see and of course
he was quite right before the cameras
could crack a foot of film the mush
brothers began to worry about the script
so if Ahlberg suggested a road tour to
test selected scenes this inspired
notion not only improved the script but
rebuilt the brothers confidence by
giving them the chance to do what they
did this perform in front of live
audiences I used to see Groucho and the
brothers on the stage of the Golden Gate
Theatre in San Francisco they would come
up and do scenes from their upcoming
movie that they hadn’t shot yet I have
never laughed like that in my life
in the theatre not ever I mean you and I
and I saw four shows a day seven days a
week and I screamed laughing all the
time they would do them in front of this
live audience at the Golden Gate Theatre
and time.the laughs so that when they
shot the movie they were they would
leave that much space for the audience
to laugh at the movie so you could hear
the next joke as funny as they were in
film they were a hundred times thousand
times funnier on stage and they were
unpredictable I mean things would happen
on stage that was so wonderful I used to
watch them wallpaper Margaret Dumont
into the wall and what four or five
shows a day this poor woman who looked
like my mother during the tour the
famous stateroom scene was almost
dropped because it wasn’t getting any
laughs then one night they threw out the
script and Marxist Anarchy ruled the
stage once more the results turned a
weak scene into a cinema classic on the
second or third day I thought to myself
gee the second show is nobody in the
audience except a few drunks guys and
overcoats and a few ladies of the
evening how come get my hair done so I
went out and came back and went
backstage and Daddy and Harper were
waiting for me and I said hi and they
said well and I said well and they said
well and I really didn’t know what the
hell they were talking about I looked at
daddy and looked at Harper and Harper
said I told you she wouldn’t know chico
said I was
sure you’d guess I said know what guess
what and it turned out they had changed
parts
daddy had played Harpo and Harpo had
played daddy and they did it for me and
I wasn’t there
that’s one of the biggest
disappointments I’ve ever had in show
business it was a hard break because
they never would do it again the tour
was a rousing success in PAL Berg’s
faith and the Marx Brothers was
validated a Night at the Opera was a
box-office smash and made them gigantic
stars once again attempting to repeat
the successful formula of an ad at the
Opera the March weathers again hit the
road to try out a new script but two
weeks after filming began Thalberg
only 37 years old died of pneumonia
without his guidance during shooting and
editing the brothers had no strong
creative vision still Thalberg had set
the course and a day at the races would
prove to be the Marx Brothers last great
movie
we’re yes just moved I have a most
important announcement to make
most important the Marx Brothers are
retiring from the silver screen we
didn’t know you cared
farewell picture the big star for
everything goodbye goodbye Racha Chico
and Harpo mono in their fifties the last
three films were mediocre at best an MJ
Miranda wanted them for that matter
neither did another studio in town the
brothers Chiklis I’d had no financial
need to work so they decided to retire
and women and women in pavia and women
the act was finished nothing would ever
be the same not for the Marx Brothers
not for America the brunt of the
cowardly blow struck at Pearl Harbor was
borne by the Army and Navy
Papo did his part for the war effort
criss crossing the country selling war
bonds with stars such as Lucille Ball
and Fred Astaire I think I enjoyed
Grouch of the most when we did the
victory caravan back in 1942 when we
were selling bonds across the country in
about 25 26 cities and was amazing the
train stopped in Washington which was
our first stop and they had a tremendous
crowd cheering everybody that got off
the train when he Groucho got off nobody
recognized him because he didn’t have
his moustache a cigar so he just climbed
down the other end of the car put on his
moustache put the cigar in his mouth got
down on the crotch got off and got a
tremendous hand the atomic bomb ended
the war and brought the troops back home
the fall of 1945 it was time for all
Americans to get back to a normal life
there were families to unite lives to
rebuild but could the Marx Brothers find
a place in this brave new world
you bet your life with the end of World
War two came a new explosion of energy
and optimism America was getting back to
work and surprisingly so were the Marx
Brothers most people remember the Marx’s
from their movies what you know is that
they created a substantial body of work
in television you know Jimmy Fitz
ricotta maybe you know itsy bitsy pizza
chico was the first to explore this
uncharted territory but it was a Groucho
who found everlasting stardom in the
infant medium we sat in the audience and
Bob Hope was reading a script and he was
reading it with Groucho
I’d never seen Groucho before in person
and Bob dropped his script accidentally
so Groucho dropped his on purpose and
they talked for maybe 12 minutes or so
and very funny and not dirty
Groucho what are you doing out here in
the desert desert I’m sitting in the
dressing room for 40 minutes Wow –
excuse me a minute I have to make an
announcement on the air step into the
studio with me where do you know
everybody in radio wears wooden shoes so
after the show I went up on the stage
and I introduced myself to Groucho and
said how would you like to go or do a
quiz show and he said well I flopped
three times on the radio so far and he
had in variety shows and I’ll compete
with refrigerators I’ll do anything you
want he said I would like to do a radio
show but I’ll be damned if I do were a
quiz show
that’s for hideous thank you thank you
this is Groucho Marx well here I am
stepping in over my head again folks
this is just as new to me as it is to
you I’ve never done one of these shows
before but we’ve got several couples up
here on the stage a lot of people in the
seats out front and the doors are locked
so I’ve got to go through with it
besides somebody might win $1,000 cash
at any moment all I know is it can’t be
me you bet your life started on radio in
October of 1947 with a format
reminiscent of a dozen other quiz shows
but in its second season it became the
sleeper hit of the year and one for
grandchild radios highest honor a
Peabody Award for Best entertainment you
saw his friends succeeding Jack Benny
and this and that and he couldn’t and it
really upset him so when he finally did
it himself
it made me extremely happy yes I know
the show switched from ABC to CBS just
as television was on the way in but
could Groucho make the transition to TV
all right ladies and gentlemen the
secret word tonight is a name and a M e
really you bet your life and here’s that
sterling elgin american the one the only
what a ridiculous name oh that’s me
Groucho Marx
you’re looking at the very first
television pictures of Groucho Marx this
audition film was shot in December of
1949 and was never broadcast we knew we
had to be on television eventually and
we wondered how we were going to do that
we just televised a radio show so they
decided they’d bring a camera in and on
CBS and we did that we did the show and
during the show these guys took some
pictures of us on kinescope so we could
look at it suppose I suppose I kiss her
and you didn’t know anything about it
I’d know about it well I guess I’m gonna
have to trap you I would I’ll bet you a
buck I bet you a buck I can kiss your
wife and you won’t know a thing about it
Bette okay would you mind moving inside
there
well you saw me kiss I didn’t you I lose
here’s your vodka that isn’t my wife
well don’t coming running to me with
your troubles I
hi are you married yes I am you have any
kids
sorry and I think for it’s soon
when were you home last how’d you lose
your job well I was teaching someone how
to drive and I got a ticket for giving
the wrong signal we had quite a talk and
when we went on television as to whether
he should have the little black
moustache and the whole thing you know
like in the movies and Weezy says no
you’re a different man now you are not
the continuation of that fella the
geniuses that the network’s wanted him
to do the show with that stache painted
on them and the eyebrows and he refused
so much and you bet your life now here
he is the one the only
that boy still hanging around oh that’s
me
then even say the secret way the duck
will come down and pay him $100 the word
tonight is fit back that’s the way you
pronounce it in French huh
bet back Bob Duan who later became the
director of the Groucho Show and had
been my boss in San Francisco said I
didn’t know you were in town George I’m
doing an audition and I’d like you to
come down I’d this show may never make
it it’s with Groucho we didn’t know
there’s gonna be any great chemistry I
mean we didn’t be able to think oh boy
there’s a guy that’s gonna have the
chemistry with Groucho you may fire when
ready
all right you have to ask me okay yeah
what do you want me to say go ahead
George ha that’s I’m Adler bang but you
see he’s so dignified and straight it’s
just right for Groucho and he went to
college and Groucho didn’t and it was a
great look that’s what it was all right
are you ready
we did a routine that I didn’t realize I
was doing I was ad libbing but but in
terror I’ve been getting a lot of mail
recently even people saying that I don’t
like you and that I ride you on the show
and everything and you know that isn’t
true George you know I love snap you
upload you did know it yes I knew you
liked me in your own way
oh how that man could embarrass me and
it wasn’t that he was really mean but he
could see the dark side of everything
you know and he would get a lot of fun
out of insults he said to me more than
once was I Bob I have nothing but
confidence in you and very little of
that I think one of the reason he’s kind
of mean is that he had tight shoes and
he had insomnia and he had stomach
problems all the time he couldn’t sleep
at night you know here no heck of a time
and it made him just kind of only his
friend good Rene said I think the best
retort he said it was there was a lot of
action in the show he said Roger opened
his mouth and literate witty words came
out who was the Barbarian Conqueror
known as the scourge of God scholars of
God sco s co u RG e scourge scout code
scrounge of God thickness they don’t
know what anyhow
they don’t know what and I can’t
pronounce it it’s a real classy quiz
show we did extensive searching for
contestants we found them through
newspaper stories through letters that
were written to us it was a very popular
show and people wanted to be on it no I
don’t think the people were intimidated
by Cronshaw they were proud to be on the
ones I felt sorry for where the
contestants who thought they were
funnier than Groucho who wanted to do
jokes with Groucho and you could see it
happening you know I just he’d literally
he did he’d let him go and then well
there was actually a little sprinkling
of rudeness to what he said but he was
the silly man saying it what makes you
think just because a man is five inches
taller than six feet that this makes him
a man well you know it doesn’t go by
sighs a man sighs there’s nothing to do
with his ability in any way I’m trying
to keep this on a boil well name one
specifically
well automobiles couldn’t run without
belt aeroplanes couldn’t run the girls
in California have that new look by this
I mean a girl’s couldn’t run without
family well I’m about men Ron
the question is did Gacha have a script
or did he add live in the answers yes I
know why but people try to prove that
our show was scripted well if you if you
ever worked with amateurs you know that
you don’t give them a script at the
night of a show and they’re gonna
remember what do you want them to
remember is when he asks you how you met
your husband tell him that story that
you told me
well then naturally ground who will know
what that story is going to be and he’s
got some ideas of what he’s going to say
but it’s not a script the critics raved
radio TV daily said there isn’t a
comedian in the business that can hold a
candle a brother Groucho’s repartee and
therein lies the treat of this new video
fare hole E&L upon viewing these
recently discovered behind-the-scenes
photographs does it become clear that
Groucho had a little help on film and
and sometimes Groucho would get off on a
tangent that we knew we weren’t ever
used on the show and we’re eating up
this film this 35 millimeter film so
when they’ve written they had to have
some way to get a message to him out on
the stage and so what we got that I
remembered was I’d seen him in bowling
alleys you know that you know which is
essentially an overhead projector would
you find in every classroom nowadays so
there was nothing very mysterious about
it it had this white glass with a light
behind it so you can see the silhouette
you’d see the words and he could write
backwards and says jump to page seven or
ask her where she met her husband you
know and he would write down this and
Groucho if he looked he would see and
they’d asked where she met her husband
and that moved the show along so mean
that he is which I questioned oh man
have you ever been made love to by our
Frenchman
not not good night in recall
take them out and pass them around
let’s keep it this way now nice and
quiet and subdued and UCLA happy free it
took 45 minutes to film each episode of
you bet your life after which they would
be trimmed down to the best 24 minutes
for broadcast most of the material that
was left on the cutting room floor
belongs there but every so often a
special moment was saved on the other
piece of tape you know what you’re right
I’m something yes I see
we gave him a lot of help we knew a lot
about the contestants when they came up
there and we prepared a lot of material
for him but he was totally free to use
that in any way he wanted and so he
could take chances what have you learned
that too being 25 years in public well
the old-fashioned way is still the best
I might have some reputation you know
there is anything anybody can say to me
anymore that doesn’t evoke some kind of
a daddy laughs from the audience what do
you mean by the old-fashioned way
Wow and if they didn’t work he knew they
would be cut out he’d turn around to me
and say it was gone well I suppose you
became a famous actress and then you met
somebody you liked and got married would
you be willing to quit acting and be a
housewife and a mother well I think if
you keep your feet on the ground you can
combine both that’s what I would like to
do well if you keep your feet on the
ground you’ll never be a mother
that’s what they call a waste of film
primarily the big objective Gaucho will
be to migrate the people by space
vehicle to other planets that have more
desirable temperature you’re gonna have
to put your shoes on again
it is getting Deeping yeah pardon me
just a minute I hate interrupt this but
Tim have you read this book no sir well
hold it I’ll be right back
now that we’ve all seen action let’s
have a little action on the show may I
make an announcement here you may I
don’t approve of it you can go ahead and
well this is a serious announcement for
a doctor in our audience there’s nothing
wrong with anybody here at the show dr.
Hoyt that’s a fine name for a dr. Hoyt
has a call for you sir doctor why don’t
you pay your bills and they won’t be
badgering you in the middle of a
performance not only terrible but
revolting welcome welcome for the DeSoto
Plymouth dealers
your face looks familiar haven’t we met
before I don’t think so Roger and what
is your name is no this is the late
either I’ll have to get my glasses fixed
so you’ll have to do your hair
differently what is your name sir uh
Forsythe
Ronald Forsythe Ronald it was Rodney
during rehearsal
okay and I think we better get started
and play you bet your life where’s the
doctor
macho in the words of Rufus T Firefly
wasn’t a sentimental old fluff but this
kinescope of his appearance on the Jack
Benny program was among his most prized
possessions it hasn’t been seen since
the original broadcast in 1955 in a
sacred way which is something found
around the house the duck will come down
and pay you $100 something around the
house yes now what do you live for a
fraud well right now I’m living in
Glendale
Glendale yes I have a little home there
with six rules and and windows and
window shades the new blinds and tables
and chairs and spoons and saucers
knives of poor old and hold it why are
you telling me all this
you said that the secret word is
something around the house I can’t get
over how familiar you look
is the violin you play a Stradivarius
that’s right oh no no you see III you
have to be rich to people have a
Stradivarius II I’m poor I all I have
around my house or towels and rugs and
ashtrays look enough of that already now
Rodney you say you you don’t have a
Stradivarius nothing you know I heard
that a lot of imitation strands have
been made and so I know but they could
never fool me because you see I could
tell a phony
I guess the world
hold it there’s been a mistake the duck
thought you said to say good way but you
didn’t
what secret why does telephone and you
said telephone but I got a better my
speech say that use Colonia a change
yeah well in the sentence you use you
said you wouldn’t be fooled because you
can telephony but you didn’t let me
finish the second I said I was bought a
telephony a friend of mine who’s a
violinist his name this friend
you’ve got a family okay they say the
customers all right but I don’t know how
that applies to you you sound like the
type has never been a customer I don’t
care just let me at this duck
more where that came from
well that was they just flew in from Las
Vegas Benny is not although he’s a funny
a delivery he does it with attitude I
mean he does it with a facial expression
and gets you know tremendous laughs the
big question tonight is $3,000 you are
15 seconds to decide
you are 15 seconds to decide on a single
answer between you think carefully and
please note up in the audience are you
ready yeah all right there is a famous
radio and television comedian who was
born in Waukegan Illinois wait a minute
we know us Jack Benny mr. Forsyte though
that’s not the question what question is
this now listen this is the question how
many years this bum has been lying about
his age now for $3,000
three thousand dollars can you tell me
how old he really is
five seconds more $3,000 what is Jack
Benny’s real age 39 I’m sorry but that’s
the wrong answer which means the big
question next week will be wait $3,500
thanks and good luck into the so
diplomatic Thank You Rodney
know anybody that can give away as much
money at you and still tell jokes
deserve something
that’s an unfortunate subject you but
since you did bring it up yeah when do I
get paid how about money oh oh oh well
Groucho I would worry about that because
you will get a check tomorrow morning
hmm now how about paying me in cash
why what’s what’s wrong with my check
well I can tell a phony to
you bet your life enter this remarkable
run a 1961 the real secret word was
spontaneity that’s what made this show
unique you never knew what gotcha would
say next that edge gave the program live
from syndication where it has influenced
each new generation of comedians the
program revived watchos career and made
him a bigger star than ever and paved
the way for a Marx Brothers Renaissance
on that you can bet your life back in
1946 just before Groucho fell into his
newfound stardom he was enjoying
semi-retirement there’s a frustrated
farmer and he was constantly out in the
backyard pruning the trees and tending
to the vegetable gardens he loved doing
that here in these never-before-seen 3d
home movies Groucho relaxes with his
family Harpo no longer the jaunty world
travelling member of the Algonquin Round
Table had retired to more sedate
pleasures
while raccho is busy revolutionizing the
quiz show check out his act overseas in
the pictures you see I used to be in the
way I used to be always Italian but I
saw what they did the more Cellini so
now I’m Greek Harpo meanwhile pursued
his diverse interests including posing
for Hollywood’s favorite portrait artist
John Decker in these rare home movies
he’s seen clowning in front of Decker’s
Harpal as the Blue Boar my father would
sometimes be listening to the radio and
they had a show in Palm Springs where
people would come on about lost animals
lost pets that they had found animals
and my father would generally answer the
radio ad and bring that animal home and
we were always the house was always
filled with animals he loved down as
much as Harpo enjoyed spending time with
his family he wasn’t ready to retire not
yet
later somebody out of the audience would
start shooting back at us you know that
I believe that my dad was apprehensive
every time he walked out on the stage oh
you want me to do a different type show
dad well maybe I’ve got a humor this kid
let’s walk on back into my office would
you come back here huh you like that huh
he was very nervous that night because
in those days it was live television and
you only had one shot at it
this was no editing and he recognized
that and this was not rehearsed heavily
to the point where it would be smooth
and he knew that a windshield wiper
windshield wiper on a rainy day nobody
ever knew how to write for Harpo he went
to page two and it’s a Harpo skips down
a nice little road and he is confronted
by a huge stuffed bear
Harpo does something funny that’s how
they wrote for him come on I asked you
to play the Haab would you play the hop
you won’t play the hop you don’t want it
why you invented this oh good it’s very
peculiar fire it’s got two mouthpieces
that you play in both sides at the same
time how do you do that please do me a
favor and I’d like you to play the hop
would you play the hop you what are you
gonna get on you gonna get the car and
read I didn’t know he played ladies and
gentleman I want you to watch half will
play the clarinet he’s really one of the
greatest you’re gonna play the clarinet
not seriously what are you gonna play
what are you playing
I’m forever blowing bubbles that’s why
you’re gonna play it seriously well are
you gonna play it seriously I’ll direct
the band seriously cuz I’m a great
musical conductor
that’s the trouble now stop it are you
gonna play the number now stop it
finish the number where your Harpal
please
what’s the trouble what’s the trouble
don’t you want me to play don’t you want
me to direct it you want another
director who do you want what do you
want Billy make hi Billy would you come
over here please
I want you to meet Harpo Marx hey have
you got a suggestion can you help us can
you help us I have a very suggestive
milk what he plays yeah I direct yeah
and you sing I thought you’d never call
on me I’m a great singer I’m a
sensational singer
they face
we always felt that the roles outside of
Harpo were the most difficult to play in
another dramatic role
hey boy you sure see some dandies huh
help I’m trying to run look I didn’t
take any course and mine reading at the
police academy let’s go huh hey wait a
minute
for pete’s sake what do you want except
for those occasional guest spots
Harpo spent his time in Palm Springs
playing golf and being a good father and
husband so to make it simplified we
moved down here Benny what what do you
like most about living in Palm Springs I
can remember my father coming and waking
me up in the middle of the night very
often because he wanted to play a game
he wanted to play jacks he wanted to
play cards any kind of a game but if he
was working during the daytime nighttime
was the only time he had to spend with
his children and it would never occur to
him to let us sleep he would just come
wake us up and that was his time to play
a game or whatever my parents were
having a lot of problems my mother was
drinking and and off in this car pool
and his family live six or seven blocks
away when I was growing up in Beverly
Hills and many’s the evening that I
would bicycle over to Harpo’s house
there was a peacefulness there that
there was not in my house and I would
always bicycle over in time for them to
invite me to dinner and hope that they
would and they frequently did they
always did so you know that gypsy love
song or I know the cars well I played
the voice maybe you could follow me and
well suppose you play the first well I
knew around you’re going to noodle what
do you mean by noodle
that’s fine you noodle there and I with
macaroni already good now we tried the
chorus but the chorus we played the
endosomal you know what the NSM who is
drew how long do you study music how
about the thing is you know two more
years you could have been a plumber this
is my family album and this is my
brother Harpo he’s always chasing the
girls but no more now he’s a teller the
girls about creamy prom because prom
home pointment is awaiting cream leaves
your hair sauce you’ll get a creamy prom
my top oh he was a combination of a will
of the wisp and Peter Pan and to a
little girl
he was magic
Hollywood making his first appearance on
British Telecom can I ask the obvious
question you’re gonna play the piano for
us aren’t you yes but I’m a little busy
busy stage
what do you mean backstage what here
yeah can you get one for me when my
uncle chicka would sit with me at the
piano sometimes he would help me on the
pieces that I was supposed to be playing
because my mother was always sitting and
listening in the other room but he would
always entertain me because he had a
style all his own I was more entertained
by his piano playing than what I was
supposed to be doing
we would be driving up any street and
he’d say you see the green light baby
and I say yes he said daddy bets you
that it’ll turn red before you can count
Tim they have to have a bet going on
everything hey angel disguise yourself
no no put on your halo halo halo hello
hello you’re looking at the deputy self
a television pilot about muddling angels
writing Earthbound wrongs these scenes
piece together from the recently
discovered master film footage or all
that remain of the legendary lost Marx
Brothers TV show did you ever see a
voice linking pair of angels say the
secret word you can have either one of
them 24 Chicago take one
Baker Tech 3 hey pipe it down here comes
the chief what it’s easy now don’t be
scared all you gotta do is a sneak in
the side of this is a sneaky fellow now
go ahead now do your stuff fine para
bunglers a jealous woman she’ll get even
with him she’ll marry him I’ll have to
take charge here phone plays hmm I
wonder how they do that head–oh free
he’s a piano player I’m a piano player I
fix him start again I say look oh look
he’s a piano player I’m a piano player I
fix a him phone plays hmm I must find
out how they do that Roger Chico
I’ll take the easy way phone please
extraordinary oh it was the first time
all three brothers had worked together
in nearly a decade but it wasn’t a happy
experience throughout the filming Chico
frustrated everyone with his inability
to remember lines then during a break
and shooting it was discovered that he
was suffering from hardening of the
arteries no insurance company would
underwrite the rigorous schedule of a
weekly series so production was shut
down and the deputy Seraph was never
completed and he was beginning to get
very ill at that time and it was hard
from then on despite his illness chicle
kept working he starred in summer stock
and with Harpo entertained Las Vegas
audiences with a nightclub act I had
just split from my husband was having a
hard time financially and I was talking
to Daddy about it and he said gee he
said I wish I were Groucho so I could
help you and I said and I’m so glad I
said it
I said I wouldn’t trade you in for any
of my uncle’s I said you’re the best in
the world I’ve been always so happy that
I said that to him anyway he was getting
sicker and sicker we knew it was only
a matter of time and he had a near near
brush I mean my mother had me fly out
because we thought he was dying but he
recovered from that attack well they’d
lived through so many near deaths with
Daddy that I think when he finally died
they just was sort of relieved because
he was very very ill so when that
happens it’s kind of a relief Jimmy
Durante at the funeral looked awful and
I heard him say it’s the end of it
there’ll be no more Marx Brothers now
Happo speaks in this fascinating new
autobiography that is in person that’s
another question let’s find out Happo
your book is chock full of great and
very funny stories now which one is your
favorite
was going on he loved music and he
played the harp every single day of his
life and the probably the most important
moment of his stage life would always
come when he would sit down to play solo
harp that’s when you saw Harpo transform
himself into the serious Arthur Marx and
all of a sudden he would be at one with
the art in the late 30s
Salvador Dali the great surrealist
painter dubbed the Marx Brothers as
being the great surrealist act he gave
my dad a harp that had strings of barbed
wire and it was wrapped in cellophane
and there were spoons and knives and
forks glued to the entire frame during
one of my dad’s many semi retirements
Gummo came to him with a deal and was to
do for one-minute commercials for labott
beer Harpo what would you like most in
all the world right now
no not that not that imagine it’s hot
the sun’s beating down on you imagine
you’re in the middle of a burning desert
a hundred miles from the nearest oasis
you haven’t had a drink of water in
three days
now what do you want most in all the
world Harpo didn’t anyone tell you this
is a beer commercial that’s right you’ve
got it
Labatt Pilsner or lager beer they were
the most surrealistic commercials I’ve
ever seen in my life
Harpo I imagine we’re lost drifting in
the middle of the Pacific surrounded by
man-eating sharks no food no water no
hope then suddenly we sight land
we’re rescue saved from a fate worse
than that now what’s the first thing
you’d ask for my dad jumped at it
because he was able to make some money
and it would be just one day of shooting
round one he moved into the center of
the Ring you sized him up then you hit
him you changed your tactics you’re
trying to confuse him you’re laughing at
him trying to make him mad what happened
oh don’t tell me he got mad never mind
Harpo you’ll do better in the next round
I know to this day I don’t understand
him but I find the most fascinating I’m
not sure my father really wanted to
retire show business had been his life
and I think that’s what he wanted to
continue doing until he couldn’t do it
any longer the entire Marx clan gathered
for Harpo’s final performance he shared
the build with red-hot comedy folk
singer Alan Schurman just about the end
of the first half of the show Alan step
to the microphone and said this is a
very special evening because you folks
are going to witness the retirement of
Harpo Marx and all of us went you know
when we heard that shocking news and
then Alan said something like I don’t
even know if he’ll come out but I’m
going to ask this great gentleman and
great comedian if he will come out and
let us applaud him once more something
to that effect
well Harper came out and got a standing
ovation again first of all because we
did love him and secondly we thought
we’ll never see him again dad got up and
made a speech for the first time spoke
in public was a very interesting feeling
because here is a man who was silent all
his life and making people laugh and now
he was speaking and everybody was silent
and then a a chuckle originally built to
a roar of laughter
over the next six or seven minutes
because once he started to speak you
couldn’t shut him up
and now here is my special guest star
Rufus T Firefly J cleaver loophole
dr. Hugo Z hackenbush captain Jeffrey
Spaulding also known as mr. Groucho Marx
ladies and gentlemen in 1973 when he was
almost 83 Groucho made his last great
variety show appearance proving that the
Masters wit was as sharp as ever
Groucho treated crips with one of
comedies biggest star I’ve just been
fine I don’t know but I’m just tickled
to have you here and words cannot
express how thrilled I am to have you on
the show
a little money wouldn’t
ah now you smoke cigars I see yeah yeah
I like no Goodman’s yeah well just
mostly comes from the first time I saw
you and I figured gee whiz
you know I wholly like to smoke cigars
well you know it’s a handy thing to have
for a comedian
asumi you are a community
there’s one question I wanted to ask you
you’ve known all of the truly great
names in comedy now I mean how would you
classify me you yeah you’d come right
after Nixon
every one of those jokes in that session
worked because he would he would listen
to the question and then that mind would
click in okay how would you rate WC
Fields I never speak ill of the dead
except in your case well I met Groucho I
found exactly what I expected a
cantankerous ornery salty amusing
amazing man who took nothing seriously
do you believe in life after death I’m
serious doubts about life before death
I believe in death during life and so
does everyone watching this show do you
have any unfulfilled wish well yes I’d
like to terminate this interviews well
you can’t be funnier than that and of
course it put Cosby down and put Cosby
away because everybody had great respect
for Cosby at that point except for
Groucho who had none he didn’t he didn’t
respect bill he bothered
Groucho that bill smoked better cigars
didn’t in Groucho did so Groucho and the
way I copped about a half a dozen of
mill cigars and you just you had to love
him
in 1974 Groucho was presented with an
honorary Oscar for his contribution to
film he began this final moment in the
spotlight by taking a bow for all of our
brothers
hello I must be going
I cannot stay I came to say I must be
going
I’m glad I came but just the same I must
be going I’ll stay a week or two nice
day the summer through what I am Telling
Simon Thomas Nara much has been said and
written about the style inceptions of
the Marx Brothers comedy film historians
have offered endless intellectual
analyses as to the reasons for their
success but perhaps the most persuasive
argument for why they’ve made audiences
laugh for four generations is that they
were funny
pure and simple like all great artists
Groucho Chico and Harpo were true
originals and once the Marx Brothers
entered our collective consciousness
they never left
once again I like

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