- Marx Brothers
The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act, originally from New York City, that enjoyed success in Vaudeville, Broadway, and motion pictures from the early 1900s to around 1950. Five of Marx Brothers’ thirteen feature films were selected by the American Film Institute as among the top 100 comedy films, with two of them (Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera) in the top twelve.
The core of the act was the three elder brothers, Chico, Harpo and Groucho; each developed a highly distinctive stage persona. The two younger brothers, Gummo and Zeppo, did not develop their stage characters to the same extent, and eventually left the act to pursue other careers. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared only in the first five.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Brothers
- 3 Stage beginnings
- 4 Origin of the stage names
- 5 Hollywood
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Legacy
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Born in New York City, the Marx Brothers were the sons of Jewish immigrants from Germany and France. Their mother, Minnie Schönberg, was from Dornum in East Frisia; and their father, Simon Marx (whose name was changed to Samuel Marx, and who was nicknamed "Frenchy") was a native of Alsace and worked as a tailor. The family lived in the then-poor Yorkville section of New York City's Upper East Side, between the Irish, German and Italian quarters.
The brothers were:
Stage name Actual name Born Died Age Chico Leonard March 22, 1887 October 11, 1961 74 Harpo Adolph (after 1911: Arthur) November 23, 1888 September 28, 1964 75 Groucho Julius Henry October 2, 1890 August 19, 1977 86 Gummo Milton October 23, 1892 April 21, 1977 84 Zeppo Herbert Manfred February 25, 1901 November 30, 1979 78
A sixth brother, Manfred ("Mannie"), was actually the first child of Samuel and Minnie, born in 1886, 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 'entero-colitis,' 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." A cousin of the Marx brothers was Mary Livingstone (b. Sadye Marks 1905-1983), who married comedian Jack Benny.
The brothers were from a family of artists, and their musical talent was encouraged from an early age. Harpo was amazingly talented, learning to play an estimated six different instruments throughout his career. He became a dedicated harpist, which gave him his nickname. Chico was an excellent pianist, Groucho a guitarist and singer, and Zeppo a vocalist. They got their start in vaudeville, where their uncle Albert Schönberg performed as Al Shean of Gallagher and Shean. Groucho's debut was in 1905, mainly as a singer. By 1907, he and Gummo were singing together as "The Three Nightingales" with Mabel O'Donnell. The next year, Harpo became the fourth Nightingale and by 1910, the group was expanded to include their mother Minnie and their Aunt Hannah. The troupe was renamed "The Six Mascots".
One evening in 1912, a performance at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas was interrupted by shouts from outside about a runaway mule. The audience hurried outside to see what was happening. When they returned, Groucho, angered by the interruption, made snide comments about the audience, including "Nacogdoches is full of roaches" and "The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass". Instead of becoming angry, the audience laughed. The family then realized they had potential as a comic troupe. However, in Harpo Marx's autobiography, Harpo Speaks, he states that the runaway mule incident occurred in Ada, Oklahoma. 
The act slowly evolved from singing with comedy to comedy with music. Their sketch "Fun in Hi Skule" featured Groucho as a German-accented teacher presiding over a classroom that included students Harpo, Gummo and Chico. The last version of the school act, titled Home Again, was written by their uncle, Al Shean, of the famous vaudeville act Gallagher and Shean. At about this time, Gummo left to serve in World War I, reasoning that "anything is better than being an actor!" Zeppo replaced him in their final vaudeville years and in the jump to Broadway, and then to Paramount films.
During World War I, anti-German sentiments were common, and the family tried to conceal their German origin. After learning that farmers were excluded from the draft rolls, mother Minnie purchased a 27-acre (110,000 m2) poultry farm near Countryside, Illinois, but the brothers soon found that chicken ranching was not in their blood. During this time, Groucho discontinued his "German" stage personality.
By this time, "The Four Marx Brothers" had begun to incorporate their unique style of comedy into their act and to develop their characters. Both Groucho and Harpo's memoirs say their now famous on-stage personae were created by Al Shean. Groucho began to wear his trademark greasepaint moustache and to use a stooped walk. Harpo stopped speaking onstage and began to wear a red fright wig and carry a taxi-cab horn. Chico spoke with a fake Italian accent, developed off-stage to deal with neighborhood toughs, while Zeppo adopted the role of the romantic (and "peerlessly cheesy", according to James Agee) straight man.
The on-stage personalities of Groucho, Chico and Harpo were said to have been based on their actual traits. Zeppo, on the other hand, was considered the funniest brother offstage, despite his straight stage roles. As the youngest, and having grown up watching his brothers, he could fill in for and imitate any of the others when illness kept them from performing. "He was so good as Captain Spaulding [in Animal Crackers] that I would have let him play the part indefinitely, if they had allowed me to smoke in the audience", Groucho recalled. (Zeppo did impersonate Groucho in the film version of Animal Crackers. Groucho was unavailable to film the scene in which the Beaugard painting is stolen, so the script was contrived to include a power failure which allowed Zeppo to play the Spaulding part in near-darkness.)
By the 1920s, the Marx Brothers had become one of America's favorite theatrical acts. With their sharp and bizarre sense of humor, they satirized high society and human hypocrisy. They also became famous for their improvisational comedy in free-form scenarios. A famous early instance was when Harpo arranged to chase a fleeing chorus girl across the stage during the middle of a Groucho monologue to see if Groucho would be thrown off. However, to the audience's delight, Groucho merely reacted by calmly checking his watch and commenting, "First time I ever saw a taxi hail a passenger". When Harpo chased the girl back the other direction, Groucho ad-libbed, "The 9:20's right on time. You can set your watch by the Lehigh Valley."
Under Chico's management, and with Groucho's creative direction, the brothers' vaudeville act had led to them becoming stars on Broadway, first with a musical revue, I'll Say She Is (1924–1925) and then with two musical comedies, The Cocoanuts (1925–1926) and Animal Crackers (1928–1929). Playwright George S. Kaufman worked on the last two and helped sharpen the Brothers' characterizations.
Out of their distinctive costumes the brothers looked alike, even down to their receding hairlines. Zeppo could pass for a younger Groucho, and played the role of his son in Horse Feathers. A scene in Duck Soup finds Groucho, Harpo and Chico all appearing in the famous greasepaint eyebrows, mustache and round glasses, while wearing nightcaps. The three are indistinguishable, enabling them to carry off the "mirror scene" perfectly.
Origin of the stage names
The stage names for four of the five brothers were coined by monologist Art Fisher during a poker game in Galesburg, Illinois, based both on the brothers' personalities and Gus Mager's Sherlocko the Monk, a popular comic strip of the day which included a supporting character named "Groucho the Monk". The reasons behind Chico's and Harpo's stage names are undisputed, and Gummo's is fairly well established. Groucho's and Zeppo's are far less clear. Arthur was named Harpo because he played the harp, and Leonard became Chico (pronounced "Chick-o") because he was, in the slang of the period, a "chicken chaser". ("Chickens"—later "chicks"—was period slang for women. "In England now," said Groucho, "they were called 'birds'.")
In his autobiography, Harpo explains that Milton became Gummo because he crept about the theater like a gumshoe detective. Other sources report that Gummo was the family's hypochondriac, having been the sickliest of the brothers in childhood, and therefore wore rubber overshoes, also called gumshoes, in all kinds of weather. Groucho stated that the source of the name was Gummo wearing galoshes. Either way, the name relates to rubber-soled shoes.
The reason Julius was named Groucho is perhaps the most disputed. There are three explanations:
- Julius' temperament: Maxine, Chico's daughter and Groucho's niece, said in the documentary The Unknown Marx Brothers that Julius was named "Groucho" simply because he was grouchy most or all of the time. Robert B. Weide, a director known for his knowledge of Marx Brothers history, said in Remarks On Marx, a documentary short included with the DVD of A Night at the Opera, that among the competing explanations he found this one the most believable. Steve Allen, in Funny People, said that the name made no sense; Groucho might have been impudent and impertinent, but not grouchy — at least not around Allen. However, at the very end of his life, Groucho finally admitted that Fisher had named him Groucho because he was the "moody one".
- The grouch bag: This explanation appears in Harpo's biography, was voiced by Chico in a TV appearance included on The Unknown Marx Brothers, and was also offered by George Fenneman, Groucho's sidekick on his TV game show, You Bet Your Life. A grouch bag was a small drawstring bag worn around the neck in which a traveler could keep money and other valuables so that it would be very difficult for anyone to steal them. Most of Groucho's friends and associates stated that Groucho was extremely stingy, especially after losing all his money in the 1929 stock market crash, so naming him for the grouch bag may have been a comment on this trait. Groucho, in chapter six of his first autobiography, insisted that this was not the case:
I kept my money in a 'grouch bag.' This was a small chamois bag that actors used to wear around their neck to keep other hungry actors from pinching their dough. Naturally, you're going to think that's where I got my name from. But that's not so. Grouch bags were worn on manly chests long before there was a Groucho.
- Groucho's explanation: Groucho himself insisted that he was named for a character in the comic strip, Knocko the Monk, which inspired the craze for nicknames ending in "o"; in fact, there was a character in that strip named "Groucho the Monk". However, he is the only Marx or Marx associate who defended this theory, and as he is not an unbiased witness, few biographers take the claim seriously.
- Groucho himself was no help on this point; during his Carnegie Hall concert, when he was discussing the Brothers' names and when it came to his own, he said, "My name, of course, I never did understand." He goes on to mention the possibility that he was named after his unemployed uncle, Julius, who lived with his family. The family believed he was actually a rich uncle hiding a fortune. Groucho claims that he may have been named after him (perhaps by the family trying to get into the will). "And he finally died, and he left us his will, and in that will he left three razor blades, an 8-ball, a celluloid dicky, and he owed my father $85 beside."
Herbert was not nicknamed by Art Fisher, since he did not join the act until Gummo had departed. As with Groucho, three explanations exist for Herbert's name, "Zeppo":
- Harpo's explanation: Harpo said in Harpo Speaks! the brothers had named Herbert for Mr. Zippo, a chimpanzee that was part of another performer's act. Herbert found the nickname very unflattering, and when it came time for him to join the act, he put his foot down and refused to be called "Zippo." The brothers compromised on Zeppo.
- Chico's explanation: Chico never wrote an autobiography, and gave fewer interviews than his brothers, but his daughter, Maxine, in The Unknown Marx Brothers said that when the Marx Brothers lived in Chicago, a popular style of humor was the "Zeke and Zeb" joke, which made fun of slow-witted Midwesterners in much the same way Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes mock Cajuns and Ole and Lena jokes mock Minnesotans. One day, as Chico returned home, he found Herbert sitting on the fence. Herbert greeted him by saying "Hi, Zeke!" Chico responded with "Hi, Zeb!" and the name stuck. The brothers thereafter called him "Zeb," and when he joined the act, they floated the idea of "Zebbo," eventually preferring "Zeppo."
- Groucho's explanation: In a tape-recorded interview excerpted on The Unknown Marx Brothers, Groucho said Zeppo was so named because he was born when the first zeppelins started crossing the ocean. He also stated this in his Carnegie Hall concert, ca. 1972. The first zeppelin flew in July 1900, and Herbert was born seven months later in February 1901. However, the first transatlantic zeppelin flight was not until 1924, long after Herbert's birth.
Maxine Marx reported in The Unknown Marx Brothers that the brothers listed their real names (Julius, Leonard, Adolph, Milton and Herbert) on playbills and in programs, and only used the nicknames behind the scenes, until Alexander Woollcott overheard them calling one another by the nicknames; he asked them why they used their own ordinary real names publicly when they had such wonderful nicknames. They replied, "That wouldn't be dignified." Woollcott answered with a belly laugh. Since Woollcott did not meet the Marx Brothers until the premiere of I'll Say She Is, which was their first Broadway show, this would mean they used their real names throughout their vaudeville days, and that the name "Gummo" never appeared in print during his time in the act. Other sources report that the Marx Brothers did go by their nicknames during their vaudeville era, but briefly listed themselves by their given names when I'll Say She Is opened because they were worried that a Broadway audience would reject a vaudeville act if they were perceived as low class.
The Marx Brothers' stage shows became popular just as Hollywood was changing to "talkies". They signed a contract with Paramount and embarked on their film career. Their first two released films (they had previously made — but not released — one short silent film titled Humor Risk) were adaptations of Broadway shows: The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930). Both were written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Following these two feature-length films, they made a short film that was included in Paramount's twentieth anniversary documentary, The House That Shadows Built (1931), in which they adapted a scene from I'll Say She Is. Their third feature-length film, Monkey Business (1931), was their first that was not based on a stage production, and the only movie in which Harpo's voice is heard (he sings tenor from inside a barrel in the opening scene). Horse Feathers (1932), in which the brothers satirized the American college system and Prohibition, was their most popular film yet, and won them the cover of Time. It included a running gag from their stage work, where Harpo revealed having nearly everything in his coat. At various points in Horse Feathers Harpo pulls out of his coat: a wooden mallet, a fish, a coiled rope, a tie, a poster of a woman in her underwear, a cup of hot coffee, a sword; and, just after Groucho warns him that he "can't burn the candle at both ends," a candle burning at both ends. In another famous sketch, shown in Animal Crackers, Harpo drops a full banquet's worth of pilfered silverware out of his sleeve, followed by a coffeepot.
During this time, Chico and Groucho Marx starred in a radio comedy series, Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel. Although the series was short lived, much of the story material developed for it was used for subsequent films starring the Brothers. Furthermore, the scripts and recordings were believed lost for decades until copies of the scripts were found in the 1980s in the Library of Congress and both published in a book and performed with Marx Brother impersonators for BBC Radio.
Their last Paramount film, Duck Soup (1933) — directed by the most highly regarded director they ever worked with, Leo McCarey — is the higher rated of two Marx Brothers films to make the American Film Institute's "100 years ... 100 Movies" list (the other film being A Night at the Opera). It did not do as well as Horse Feathers, but was the sixth-highest grosser of 1933. The film also led to a feud between the Marxes and the village of Fredonia, New York. Freedonia, of course, was the name of the fictional country in Duck Soup, and the city fathers wrote to Paramount and asked the studio to remove all references in the film to Freedonia because "it is hurting our town's image". Groucho fired back a sarcastic reply asking them to change the name of their town because "it's hurting our picture".
The Marx Brothers left Paramount because of disagreements over creative decisions and financial issues.
MGM, RKO, and United Artists
Zeppo left the act to become an agent and went on to build with his brother Gummo one of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood, helping the likes of Jack Benny and Lana Turner get their starts. Groucho and Chico did radio, and there was talk of returning to Broadway. At a bridge game with Chico, Irving Thalberg began discussing the possibility of the Marxes coming to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and they signed, now known as "The Three Marx Brothers," or simply "The Marx Bros."
Unlike the free-for-all scripts at Paramount, Thalberg insisted on a strong story structure, making them into more sympathetic characters, interweaving their comedy with romantic plots and non-comic musical numbers, while the targets of their mischief were largely confined to clear villains. Thalberg was adamant that these scripts had to include a "low point" where all seems lost for both the Marxes and the romantic leads. In a June 13, 1969, interview with Dick Cavett, Groucho said that the two movies made with Thalberg (A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races) were the best that they ever produced.
Another idea of Thalberg's was that before filming would commence on an upcoming picture, the Marx Brothers would try out its material on the vaudeville stage, working on comic timing and learning what earned a laugh and what did not.
The first film that the brothers shot with Thalberg was A Night at the Opera (1935), a satire on the world of opera, where the brothers help two young singers in love by throwing a production of Il Trovatore into chaos. The film (which includes a scene where they cram an absurd number of people into a tiny stateroom on a ship) was a great success, and was followed two years later by the even bigger hit A Day at the Races (1937), where the brothers cause mayhem in a sanitarium and at a horse race (this sequence includes Groucho and Chico's famous "Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream" sketch). However, during shooting in 1936, Thalberg died suddenly, and without him, the brothers did not have an advocate at MGM.
After a short experience at RKO (Room Service, 1938), the Marx Brothers made three more films before leaving MGM, At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940) and The Big Store (1941). Prior to the release of The Big Store, the team announced their retirement from the screen, but Chico was in dire financial straits; to help settle his gambling debts, the Marx Brothers made another two films together, A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1949), both of them released by United Artists.
From the 1940s onward, Chico and Harpo appeared separately and together in nightclubs and casinos. Chico also fronted a big band, the Chico Marx Orchestra (with 17-year-old Mel Tormé as a vocalist). Groucho began his solo career with You Bet Your Life, which ran from 1947 to 1961 on NBC radio and television. He also authored several books, including Groucho and Me (1959), Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1964) and The Groucho Letters (1967).
Groucho and Chico briefly appeared together in a 1957 short film promoting the Saturday Evening Post entitled "Showdown at Ulcer Gulch," directed by animator Shamus Culhane, Chico's son-in-law. Groucho, Chico, and Harpo worked together (in separate scenes) in The Story of Mankind (1957). In 1959, the three began production of Deputy Seraph, a TV series starring Harpo and Chico as blundering angels, and Groucho (in every third episode) as their boss, the "Deputy Seraph." The project was abandoned when Chico was found to be uninsurable (and incapable of memorizing his lines) due to severe arteriosclerosis. On March 8 of that year, Chico and Harpo starred as bumbling thieves in The Incredible Jewel Robbery, a half-hour pantomimed episode of the General Electric Theater on CBS. Groucho made a cameo appearance—uncredited, because of constraints in his NBC contract—in the last scene, and delivered the only line of dialog ("We won't talk until we see our lawyer!").
According to a September 1947 article in Newsweek, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo all signed to appear as themselves in a biopic entitled The Life and Times of the Marx Brothers. In addition to being a non-fiction biography of the Marxes, the film would have also featured the brothers reenacting much of their previously unfilmed material from both their vaudeville and Broadway eras. The film, had it been made, would have been the first performance by the Brothers as a quartet since 1933.
The five brothers made only one television appearance together, in 1957, on an early incarnation of The Tonight Show called Tonight! America After Dark, hosted by Jack Lescoulie. Five years later (October 1, 1962) after Jack Paar's tenure, Groucho made a guest appearance to introduce the Tonight Show's new host, Johnny Carson.
Around 1960, the acclaimed director Billy Wilder considered writing and directing a new Marx Brothers film. Tentatively titled "A Day at the U.N.," it was to be a comedy of international intrigue set around the United Nations building in New York. Wilder had discussions with Groucho and Gummo, but the project was put on hold because of Harpo's ill-health and abandoned when Chico died in 1961.
In 1970, the four Marx Brothers had a brief reunion (of sorts) in the animated ABC television special The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians, produced by Rankin-Bass animation (of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer fame). The special featured animated reworkings of various famous comedians' acts, including W. C. Fields, Jack Benny, George Burns, Henny Youngman, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, Phyllis Diller, Jack E. Leonard, George Jessel and the Marx Brothers. Most of the comedians provided their own voices for their animated counterparts, except for Fields and Chico Marx (both had died), and Zeppo Marx (who had left show business in 1933). Voice actor Paul Frees filled in for all three (no voice was needed for Harpo, who was also deceased). The Marx Brothers' segment was a reworking of a scene from their Broadway play I'll Say She Is, a parody of Napoleon which Groucho considered among the Brothers' funniest routines. The sketch featured animated representations, if not the voices, of all four brothers. Romeo Muller is credited as having written special material for the show, but the script for the classic "Napoleon Scene" was probably supplied by Groucho.
On January 16, 1977, the Marx Brothers were inducted into the Motion Picture Hall of Fame.
Many television shows and movies have used Marx Brothers references. Animaniacs and Tiny Toons, for example, have featured Marx Brothers jokes and skits. Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) on M*A*S*H occasionally put on a fake nose and glasses, and, holding a cigar, did a Groucho impersonation to amuse patients recovering from surgery. Bugs Bunny also impersonated Groucho Marx in 1947 cartoon Slick Hare. In the Airwolf episode 'Condemned', four anti-virus formulae for a deadly plague were named after the four Marx Brothers.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Harpo Marx appeared as himself in a sketch on I Love Lucy in which he and Lucille Ball reprised the mirror routine from Duck Soup, with Lucy dressed up as Harpo. Lucy had met the Marxes when she appeared in a supporting role in an earlier Marx Brothers film, Room Service. Chico once appeared on I've Got a Secret dressed up as Harpo; his secret was shown in a caption reading "I'm actually Chico Marx."
Films with the Four Marx Brothers:
- Humor Risk (1921), previewed once and never released; thought to be lost
- The Cocoanuts (1929), released by Paramount Pictures
- Animal Crackers (1930), released by Paramount
- The House That Shadows Built (1931), released by Paramount (short subject)
- Monkey Business (1931), released by Paramount
- Horse Feathers (1932), released by Paramount
- Duck Soup (1933), released by Paramount
Films with the three Marx Brothers (post-Zeppo):
- A Night at the Opera (1935), released by MGM
- A Day at the Races (1937), released by MGM
- Room Service (1938), released by RKO Radio Pictures
- At the Circus (1939), released by MGM
- Go West (1940), released by MGM
- The Big Store (1941), released by MGM
- A Night in Casablanca (1946), released by United Artists
- Love Happy (1949), released by United Artists
- The Story of Mankind (1957), released by Warner Brothers (not a Marx Brothers film, but the three brothers perform separate cameos)
- Copacabana (1947), released by United Artists
- Mr. Music (1951), released by Paramount
- Double Dynamite (1951), released by RKO
- A Girl in Every Port (1952), released by RKO
- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), released by 20th Century Fox (uncredited)
- The Mikado (1960), made for television
- Skidoo (1968), released by Paramount.
- Too Many Kisses (1925), released by Paramount
- Stage Door Canteen (1943), released by United Artists (cameo)
- Papa Romani (1950), television pilot
- A Kiss in the Dark (1925), released by Paramount (cameo)
Film Year Groucho Chico Harpo Zeppo Humor Risk 1921 The Villain The Italian Watson, Detective The Love Interest Too Many Kisses 1925 The Village Peter Pan The Cocoanuts 1929 Mr. Hammer Chico Harpo Jamison Animal Crackers 1930 Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding Signor Emmanuel Ravelli The Professor Horatio Jamison The House That Shadows Built 1931 Caesar's Ghost Tomalio The Merchant of Weiners Sammy Brown Monkey Business 1931 Groucho Chico Harpo Zeppo Horse Feathers 1932 Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff Baravelli Pinky Frank Wagstaff Duck Soup 1933 Rufus T. Firefly Chicolini Pinky Lt. Bob Roland A Night at the Opera 1935 Otis B. Driftwood Fiorello Tomasso A Day at the Races 1937 Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush* Tony Stuffy Room Service 1938 Gordon Miller Harry Binelli Faker Englund At the Circus 1939 J. Cheever Loophole Antonio Pirelli Punchy Go West 1940 S. Quentin Quale Joe Panello Rusty Panello The Big Store 1941 Wolf J. Flywheel Ravelli Wacky A Night in Casablanca 1946 Ronald Kornblow Corbaccio Rusty Love Happy 1949 Sam Grunion Faustino the Great Harpo The Story of Mankind 1957 Peter Minuit Monk Sir Isaac Newton
* (To avoid a possible lawsuit, this name was chosen instead of the intended "Quackenbush" after it was discovered that there were around 30 real doctors by this name.)
Ownership status of films
All the films that were released still exist, though not always in the form they were originally released, Horse Feathers being the most obvious example. However, due to certain studios selling many of their films from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the rights to many of the Marx Brothers' films have changed hands over the years.
In 1957, Paramount sold many of its pre-1950 sound features to EMKA, Ltd. - a subsidiary of the Music Corporation of America. After MCA merged with Universal Pictures in 1962, the rights to these films went to Universal (now a part of NBC Universal).
MGM held on to their Marx Brothers films longer than Paramount did. In 1986, media mogul Ted Turner bought MGM outright. But after amassing huge debts, Turner sold the studio, but kept the pre-1986 MGM library for his own company, Turner Entertainment. Today, Turner Entertainment is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with Warner Bros. handling sales and distribution.
Due to being an RKO film, the transfer of this film's rights has been more complicated than most other Marx Brothers films. In 1955, RKO sold television rights to many of their films to C&C Television for most markets, and General Tire for markets in which they owned TV stations. General's rights ended up being auctioned as successor RKO General was in the midst of a licensing scandal. Meanwhile, C&C sold its rights to United Artists in 1971. UA was in turn sold to MGM in 1981. Turner inherited UA's rights as part of his acquisition of MGM's library. Turner then acquired television rights in the markets where RKO had owned stations. All US and Canadian and Region 4 rights are now with WB/Turner.
On the other hand, distribution rights in the rest of the world have been sold on a country-by-country basis. For example, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment purchased the underlying UK rights in later years, and passed on to Universal following the sale of PolyGram to Universal.
A Night in Casablanca
Warners now owns this film as part of the Castle Hill Productions library.
This and many other UA films released before 1952 were sold to National Telefilm Associates in 1955. In 1984, NTA changed its name to Republic Pictures, which itself became part of the Spelling Entertainment Group in the mid-1990s. Spelling was sold to Paramount's current parent Viacom in 1999.
In the mid-1990s, Republic licensed US video rights to Artisan Entertainment. Artisan was sold to Lions Gate Entertainment in 2003. Then, in 2006, US video rights to certain Republic properties - including Love Happy - reverted to Paramount, which also owns video rights in Region 4 and in France.
Television distribution is now in the hands of Trifecta Entertainment & Media, having inherited the rights from NTA, Republic, Worldvision Enterprises, Paramount Domestic Television, CBS Paramount Domestic Television, and CBS Television Distribution. Video rights in much of the world are also divided by country, with Universal owning the UK video rights.
Awards and honors
- ^ La famille paternelle des Marx Brothers (French)
- ^ "Mrs. Minnie Marx. Mother of Four Marx Brothers, Musical Comedy Stars, Dies.". New York Times. September 16, 1929.
- ^ "Samuel Marx, Father of Four Marx Brothers of Stage and Screen Fame". New York Times. May 12, 1933. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20B17FA3E5C16738DDDAB0994DD405B838FF1D3. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- ^ "Chico Marx, Stage and Film Comedian, Dies at 70; Oldest of 5 Brothers Took Role of Italian Piano Player. Team Business manager.". New York Times. October 12, 1961.
- ^ "Harpo Marx, the Silent Comedian, Is Dead at 70 [sic]; Blond-Wigged, Horn-Tooting Star Scored on Stage and in Films With Brothers Harpo Marx, Silent Comedian, Dies.". New York Times. September 29, 1964, Tuesday. "Harpo Marx, the blond-wigged, nonspeaking member of the Marx Brothers team, died tonight at 8:30 in Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 70 years old [sic]."
- ^ "Groucho Marx, Comedian, Dead. Movie Star and TV Host Was 86. Master of the Insult Groucho Marx, Film Comedian and Host of 'You Bet Your Life,' Dies.". New York Times. August 20, 1977, Saturday. "Los Angeles, August 19, 1977 Groucho Marx, the comedian, died tonight at the Cedar Sinai Medical Center here after failing to recover from a respiratory ailment that hospitalized him June 22. He was 86 years old."
- ^ 1900 Census shows birth year as Oct 1892 and his WWI draft registration says 21 Oct 1892 Roll #1613143, on his death certificate and his grave the year 1893 is given.
- ^ "Gummo Marx, Managed Comedians.". New York Times. "Palm Springs, California, April 21, 1977 (Reuters) Gummo Marx, an original member of the Marx brothers' comedy team, died here today. He was 83 years old."
- ^ "Zeppo Marx Dies on Coast at 78; Last Survivor of Comedy Team; 'Tired of Being a Stooge'.". New York Times. December 1, 1979. "Zeppo Marx, the surviving member of the Marx Brothers comedy team who left the quartet in 1934 for other businesses, died yesterday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, Calif. The youngest of the brothers, he was 78 years old and had lived in Pal..."
- ^ <http://www.marx-brothers.org/biography/index.htm>
- ^ Adamson, Joe (1973). Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo: A Celebration of the Marx Brothers. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 6–8. ISBN 0-340-18807-3.
- ^ Louvish, Simon (June 2000). Monkey Business. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0312252927.
- ^ Timphus, Stefan. "Family and Friends - The Marx Brothers." The Marx Brothers Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 August 2010. <http://www.marx-brothers.org/biography/index.htm>.
- ^ Marx and Barber.
- ^ Kanfer, pp. 35-36.
- ^ Marx, Harpo (1961). Harpo Speaks. New York: Limelight Editions. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0-87910-036-2.
- ^ Chandler, p. ???.
- ^ "Groucho's Threat Against Nixon and 9 More Marx Brothers Stories" at mental_floss.
- ^ a b Joe Adamson, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo: A Celebration of the Marx Brothers New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.
- ^ Kanfer, pp. 139-140.
- ^ Groucho Live At Carnegie Hall
- ^ Marx and Barber, p. ??.
- ^ Marx, G. (1976). The Groucho Phile. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, p. 30.
- ^ Marx, Groucho and Me.
- ^ Groucho Live At Carnegie Hall.
- ^ Kanfer.
- ^ Johnny Carson. Museum of Broadcast Communications Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- ^ Gore, Chris (1999). The Fifty Greatest Movies Never Made, New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
- Marx, Groucho, Beds (1930) Farrar & Rinehart, (1976) Bobbs-Merrill
- Marx, Groucho, Many Happy Returns (1942) Simon & Schuster
- Crichton, Kyle, The Marx Brothers (1950) Doubleday & Co.
- Marx, Arthur, Life with Groucho (1954) Simon & Schuster, (revised as My Life with Groucho: A Son's Eye View, 1988) ISBN 0-330-31132-8
- Marx, Groucho, Groucho and Me (1959) Random House, (1989) Fireside Books ISBN 0-306-80666-5
- Marx, Harpo (with Barber, Rowland), Harpo Speaks! (1961) Bernard Geis Associates, (1985) Limelight Editions ISBN 0-87910-036-2
- Marx, Groucho, Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1963) Bernard Geis Associates, (2002) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-81104-9
- Marx, Groucho, The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx (1967, 2007) Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-306-80607-X
- Zimmerman, Paul D., The Marx Brothers at the Movies (1968) G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Eyles, Allen, The Marx Brothers: Their World of Comedy (1969) A.S. Barnes
- Robinson, David, The Great Funnies: A History of Film Comedy (1969) E.P. Dutton
- Durgnat, Raymond, "Four Against Alienation" from The Crazy Mirror: Hollywood Comedy and the American Image (1970) Dell
- Maltin, Leonard, Movie Comedy Teams (1970, revised 1985) New American Library
- Anobile, Richard J. (ed.), Why a Duck?: Visual and Verbal Gems from the Marx Brothers Movies (1971) Avon Books
- Bergman, Andrew, "Some Anarcho-Nihilist Laff Riots" from We're in the Money: Depression America and Its Films (1971) New York University Press
- Marx, Arthur, Son of Groucho (1972) David McKay Co. ISBN 0-679-50355-2
- Adamson, Joe, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo (1973, 1983) Simon & Schuster
- Kalmar, Bert, and Perelman, S. J., The Four Marx Brothers in Monkey Business and Duck Soup (Classic Film Scripts) (1973) Simon & Schuster
- Mast, Gerald, The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies (1973, 2nd ed. 1979) University of Chicago Press
- McCaffrey, Donald W., "Zanies in a Stage-Movieland" from The Golden Age of Sound Comedy (1973) A. S. Barnes
- Anobile, Richard J. (ed.), Hooray for Captain Spaulding!: Verbal and Visual Gems from Animal Crackers (1974) Avon Books
- Anobile, Richard J., The Marx Bros. Scrapbook (1974) Grosset & Dunlap, (1975) Warner Books
- Wolf, William, The Marx Brothers (1975) Pyramid Library
- Marx, Groucho, The Groucho Phile (1976) Bobbs-Merrill Co.
- Marx, Groucho (with Arce, Hector), The Secret Word Is GROUCHO (1976) G.P. Putnam’s Sons
- Byron, Stuart and Weis, Elizabeth (eds.), The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (1977) Grossman/Viking
- Maltin, Leonard, The Great Movie Comedians (1978) Crown Publishers
- Arce, Hector, Groucho (1979) G. P. Putnam's Sons
- Chandler, Charlotte, Hello, I Must Be Going: Groucho & His Friends (1978) Doubleday & Co., (2007) Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-14-005222-4
- Marx, Maxine, Growing Up with Chico (1980) Prentice-Hall, (1984) Simon & Schuster
- Weales, Gerald, Canned Goods as Caviar: American Film Comedy of the 1930s (1985) University of Chicago Press
- Gehring, Wes D., The Marx Brothers: A Bio-Bibliography (1987) Greenwood Press
- Barson, Michael (ed.), Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel: The Marx Brothers Lost Radio Show (1988) Pantheon Books
- Allen, Miriam Marx, Love, Groucho: Letters from Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam (1992) Faber & Faber ISBN 0-571-12915-3
- Eyles, Allen, The Complete Films of the Marx Brothers (1992) Carol Publishing Group
- Gehring, Wes D., Groucho and W.C. Fields: Huckster Comedians (1994) University Press of Mississippi
- Mitchell, Glenn, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia (1996) B.T. Batsford Ltd., (revised 2003) Reynolds & Hearn ( ISBN 0-7134-7838-1)
- Stoliar, Steve, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House (1996) General Publishing Group ISBN 1-881649-73-3
- Dwan, Robert, As Long As They're Laughing!: Groucho Marx and You Bet Your Life (2000) Midnight Marquee Press, Inc.
- Kanfer, Stefan, Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx (2000) Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 0-375-70207-5
- Bego, Mark, The Marx Brothers (2001) Pocket Essentials
- Louvish, Simon, Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers (2001) Thomas Dunne Books ISBN 0-312-25292-7)
- Gehring, Wes D., Film Clowns of the Depression (2007) McFarland & Co.
- Keesey, Douglas, with Duncan, Paul (ed.), Marx Bros. (2007) Movie Icons series, Taschen
- Marx, Bill, Son of Harpo Speaks! (2007) BearManor Media ISBN 1-59393-062-3
- List of Radio Appearances by the Marx Brothers
- The Marx Brothers Museum
- Marx Brothers Night at the Opera Treasury
- Marx Brothers tribute page
The Marx Brothers Family members Associates Films
(Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo)
(Chico, Harpo and Groucho)
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