Archive for the ‘00’s Comedians’ Category

The Marx Brothers

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Four of the five Marx Brothers in 1931 (top to bottom: Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo)
Medium Film, Broadway, vaudeville
Nationality American
Years active 1905–1949
Genres Word play, slapstick, musical comedy, deadpan
Former members Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Groucho Marx
Gummo Marx
Zeppo Marx
The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. Five of the Marx Brothers’ thirteen feature films were selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) as among the top 100 comedy films, with two of them (Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera) in the top twelve. The brothers were included in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list of the 25 greatest male stars of Classic Hollywood cinema, the only performers to be inducted collectively.

The group are almost universally known today by their stage names: Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx. The core of the act was the three elder brothers: Chico, Harpo, and Groucho. Each developed a highly distinctive stage persona.

Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho went on to begin a second career in television. The two younger brothers Gummo and Zeppo did not develop their stage characters to the same extent. The two eventually left the act to pursue business careers at which they were successful, as well as a large theatrical agency for a time, through which they represented their brothers and others. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared in the first five films in relatively straight (non-comedic) roles. The performing lives of the brothers was brought about by their mother Minnie Marx, who also acted as their manager.

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The only known photo of the entire Marx family, c. 1915. From left: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother), Zeppo, Sam (father), Chico, and Harpo.
The Marx Brothers were five brothers born to U.S. immigrants Miene “Minnie” Schoenberg (professionally known as Minnie Palmer, who acted as their manager) and Samuel (born “Simon”, nicknamed “Frenchy”) Marx. The brothers are best known by their stage names:

Stage name Birth name Born Died Age
Chico Leonard Marx March 22, 1887 October 11, 1961 74
Harpo Adolph (after 1911: Arthur) Marx November 23, 1888 September 28, 1964 75
Groucho Julius Henry Marx October 2, 1890 August 19, 1977 86
Gummo Milton Marx October 23, 1892 April 21, 1977 84
Zeppo Herbert Manfred Marx February 25, 1901 November 30, 1979 78
A sixth brother Manfred (“Mannie”) was actually the first son of Sam and Minnie, who was born in 1886 and died in infancy, though an online family tree states that he was born in 1885:

“Family lore told privately of the firstborn son, Manny, born in 1886 but surviving for only three months, and carried off by tuberculosis. Even some members of the Marx family wondered if he was pure myth. But Manfred can be verified. A death certificate of the Borough of Manhattan reveals that he died, aged seven months, on 17 July 1886, of enterocolitis, with ‘asthenia’ contributing, i.e., probably a victim of influenza. He is buried at New York’s Washington Cemetery, beside his grandmother, Fanny Sophie Schönberg (née Salomons), who died on 10 April 1901.”
Minnie Marx came from a family of performers. Her mother was a yodeling harpist and her father a ventriloquist; both were funfair entertainers. Around 1880, the family emigrated to New York City, where Minnie married Sam in 1884. During the early 20th century, Minnie helped her younger brother Abraham Elieser Adolf (stage name Al Shean) to enter show business; he became highly successful on vaudeville and Broadway as half of the musical comedy double act Gallagher and Shean, and this gave the brothers an entree to musical comedy, vaudeville,and Broadway at Minnie’s instigation. Minnie also acted as the brothers’ manager, using the name Minnie Palmer so that agents would not realize that she was also their mother. All the brothers confirmed that Minnie Marx had been the head of the family and the driving force in getting the troupe launched, the only person who could keep them in order; she was said to be a hard bargainer with theatre management.

Of the five brothers, the three that were most commonly associated with the stage title “the Marx Brothers”—Harpo, Chico, and Groucho—remained lifelong performers. Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho began a second career and became a well-known television host. Gummo and Zeppo both left performing to run a large theatrical agency together, through which they represented their brothers as well as others at times. Both also became well-respected businessmen. Gummo gained success through his agency activities and a raincoat business, and Zeppo became a multi-millionaire through his engineering business.

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Julius Henry Marx (Groucho) on the left and Adolph Marx (Harpo) on the right holding a rat terrier dog, c. 1906
The Marx Brothers were born in New York City, the sons of Jewish immigrants from Germany and France. Their mother Minnie Schönberg was from Dornum in East Frisia, and their father Simon Marx was a native of Alsace and worked as a tailor. (His name was changed to Samuel Marx, and he was nicknamed “Frenchy”.) The family lived in the poor Yorkville section of New York City’s Upper East Side, centered in the Irish, German, and Italian quarters.

 

The Marx Brothers Born And Death

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The only known photo of the entire Marx family, c. 1915. From left: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother), Zeppo, Sam (father), Chico, and Harpo.
The Marx Brothers were five brothers born to U.S. immigrants Miene “Minnie” Schoenberg (professionally known as Minnie Palmer, who acted as their manager) and Samuel (born “Simon”, nicknamed “Frenchy”) Marx. The brothers are best known by their stage names:

Stage name Birth name Born Died Age
Chico Leonard Marx March 22, 1887 October 11, 1961 74
Harpo Adolph (after 1911: Arthur) Marx November 23, 1888 September 28, 1964 75
Groucho Julius Henry Marx October 2, 1890 August 19, 1977 86
Gummo Milton Marx October 23, 1892 April 21, 1977 84
Zeppo Herbert Manfred Marx February 25, 1901 November 30, 1979 78
A sixth brother Manfred (“Mannie”) was actually the first son of Sam and Minnie, who was born in 1886 and died in infancy, though an online family tree states that he was born in 1885:

“Family lore told privately of the firstborn son, Manny, born in 1886 but surviving for only three months, and carried off by tuberculosis. Even some members of the Marx family wondered if he was pure myth. But Manfred can be verified. A death certificate of the Borough of Manhattan reveals that he died, aged seven months, on 17 July 1886, of enterocolitis, with ‘asthenia’ contributing, i.e., probably a victim of influenza. He is buried at New York’s Washington Cemetery, beside his grandmother, Fanny Sophie Schönberg (née Salomons), who died on 10 April 1901.”
Minnie Marx came from a family of performers. Her mother was a yodeling harpist and her father a ventriloquist; both were funfair entertainers. Around 1880, the family emigrated to New York City, where Minnie married Sam in 1884. During the early 20th century, Minnie helped her younger brother Abraham Elieser Adolf (stage name Al Shean) to enter show business; he became highly successful on vaudeville and Broadway as half of the musical comedy double act Gallagher and Shean, and this gave the brothers an entree to musical comedy, vaudeville,and Broadway at Minnie’s instigation. Minnie also acted as the brothers’ manager, using the name Minnie Palmer so that agents would not realize that she was also their mother. All the brothers confirmed that Minnie Marx had been the head of the family and the driving force in getting the troupe launched, the only person who could keep them in order; she was said to be a hard bargainer with theatre management.

Of the five brothers, the three that were most commonly associated with the stage title “the Marx Brothers”—Harpo, Chico, and Groucho—remained lifelong performers. Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho began a second career and became a well-known television host. Gummo and Zeppo both left performing to run a large theatrical agency together, through which they represented their brothers as well as others at times. Both also became well-respected businessmen. Gummo gained success through his agency activities and a raincoat business, and Zeppo became a multi-millionaire through his engineering business.

The Marx Brothers

image

Four of the five Marx Brothers in 1931 (top to bottom: Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo)
Medium Film, Broadway, vaudeville
Nationality American
Years active 1905–1949
Genres Word play, slapstick, musical comedy, deadpan
Former members Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Groucho Marx
Gummo Marx
Zeppo Marx
The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. Five of the Marx Brothers’ thirteen feature films were selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) as among the top 100 comedy films, with two of them (Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera) in the top twelve. The brothers were included in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list of the 25 greatest male stars of Classic Hollywood cinema, the only performers to be inducted collectively.

The group are almost universally known today by their stage names: Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx. The core of the act was the three elder brothers: Chico, Harpo, and Groucho. Each developed a highly distinctive stage persona.

Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho went on to begin a second career in television. The two younger brothers Gummo and Zeppo did not develop their stage characters to the same extent. The two eventually left the act to pursue business careers at which they were successful, as well as a large theatrical agency for a time, through which they represented their brothers and others. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared in the first five films in relatively straight (non-comedic) roles. The performing lives of the brothers was brought about by their mother Minnie Marx, who also acted as their manager.

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