Marx Brothers

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Related to Harpo Marx: Leonard Marx, Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx

Marx Brothers,

team of American movie comedians. The members were Julius (1890?–1977), known as Groucho; Arthur (1888?–1964), originally Adolph and known as Harpo; Leonard (1887?–1961), known as Chico; and two other brothers, Milton (Gummo) and Herbert (Zeppo), who had both left the act by 1935; all were born in New York City. After starting in vaudeville they made a sensation on Broadway with The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, both of which they transferred to film (1929, 1930). Their anarchic, slapstick humor turned dignified settings into playhouses for Groucho's outrageous puns and wisecracks, Harpo's horn honking and girl chasing, and Chico's distorted logic. Zeppo appeared in their first five films as straight man. Their films include Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), and A Night at the Opera (1935). Groucho enjoyed a solo career as film actor, television game show emcee, and master raconteur in concert.


See autobiographies by Groucho (1959) and Harpo (1961); A. Marx, Life with Groucho (1954) and Son of Groucho (1972); biographies of Groucho by H. Arce (1979) and S. Kanfer (2001); Groucho Marx and R. J. Anobile, The Marx Bros. Scrapbook (1973); S. Kanfer: The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx (2000); S. Louvish, Monkey Business (2001); G. Mitchell, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia (2003).

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Marx Brothers

the. a US family of film comedians, esp Arthur Marx, known as Harpo (1888--1964), Herbert Marx, known as Zeppo (1901--79), Julius Marx, known as Groucho (1890--1977), and Leonard Marx known as Chico (1886--1961). Their films include Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horsefeathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), and A Day at the Races (1937)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Marx Brothers

comedy team; all born in New York City. The three most prominent were Chico (b. Leonard) (1886–1961); Harpo (b. Adolph, but known as Arthur) (1888–1964); and Groucho (b. Julius Henry) (1890–1977). Early in its career, the team included Gummo (b. Milton) (1893–1977) and Zeppo (b. Herbert) (1901–77). Sons of German immigrants, they were pushed on the stage by their mother, Minnie Marx (sister of Al Shean of the vaudeville duo, Gallagher & Shean), and began their career in vaudeville as a musical team before switching to the anarchic, surrealist comedy that became their trademark—a mixture of verbal and physical nonsequiturs. Gummo left the act early on and was replaced by Zeppo. The four hit Broadway in 1924 in I'll Say She Is and went on to make their first movie, The Cocoanuts in 1929. Zeppo left the team after their first five films, but the remaining three had hit after hit until 1950, with Duck Soup (1933) and A Night at the Opera (1935) arguably their best movies. Chico retired early and Harpo cut back to guest appearances on television, but Groucho remained active, appearing in movies and as the host of a popular television quiz show, You Bet Your Life (1950–61). In his later years, Groucho became something of a cultural institution, writing several well-received autobiographical books, and making guest appearances with his much-imitated manner but inimitable quips; he was revered by film buffs and paid homage to by individuals as disparate as Johnny Carson and T. S. Eliot.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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