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The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act, originally from New York Citymarker, that enjoyed success in vaudeville, Broadwaymarker, and motion pictures from the early 1900s to around 1950. Five of the 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.

Early life

Born in New York City, the Marx Brothers were the sons of Jewish immigrants from Germany and France. Their mother, Minnie Schönberg, was from Dornummarker in East Frisia; and their father, Simon Marx (whose name was changed to Samuel Marx, and who was nicknamed "Frenchy") was a native of Alsacemarker and worked as a tailor. The family lived in the then-poor Yorkvillemarker section of New York City's Upper East Sidemarker, 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, 1893 April 21, 1977 83
Zeppo Herbert February 25, 1901 November 30, 1979 78

A sixth brother, Manfred, was actually the first child of Sam and Minnie to be born, in 1886. Manfred died in infancy before any of the performing Marx Brothers were born.

Stage beginnings

1911 newspaper advertisement for a Marx Brothers appearance.

The brothers were from a family of artists, and their musical talent was encouraged from an early age. Harpo was hopelessly untalented on the guitar and piano (he boasts in his autobiography that he only knew two songs, and that he could only play them with one finger); however, 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".A cousin of the Marx brothers was Mary Livingstone {b.Sadye Marks 1905-d.1983}, who married comedian Jack Benny.


One evening in 1912, a performance at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texasmarker 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.

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 Al 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 Broadwaymarker, 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 poultry farm near Countryside, Illinoismarker, 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 personas 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 institutions such as 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, Illinoismarker, 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 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, and originally spelled, "Chick-o") because of his affinity for the ladies ("chicks", as in "My brother Leonard was a chicken-chaser").

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 many 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 had inspired the craze for nicknames ending in O. In fact, there was a character in that strip named "Groucho." However, he is the only Marx or Marx associate who ever 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 Hallmarker 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."

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 disliked the nickname, 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 rather 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.



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 incidentally the only movie in which Harpo's voice is heard - he's singing tenor from inside a barrel in the opening scene. Horse Feathers (1932), in which the brothers satirized the Americanmarker 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 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 Congressmarker 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 Yorkmarker. 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 didn't.

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.

Later years

Groucho and Chico briefly appeared together promoting the Saturday Evening Post in a 1957 short film entitled "Showdown at Ulcer Gulch," directed by animator Shamus Culhane, Chico's son-in-law. Then they worked together, but in different scenes, in The Story of Mankind (1957). In 1959, all three acted in a TV pilot, Deputy Seraph, to star Harpo and Chico as blundering angels; Groucho would appear in every third episode as their boss, the "Deputy Seraph." The pilot was never finished, as it was discovered that Chico was seriously ill with arteriosclerosis; he could not remember his lines at all, and was uninsurable. Chico and Harpo did appear together in a half-hour film shot later that year for the General Electric Theater on CBS, The Incredible Jewel Robbery, a pantomime show with the pair as would-be jewel thieves. Groucho made a brief appearance in the last scene.

From the 1940s onward, Chico and Harpo made nightclub and casino appearances, sometimes together. Chico also fronted a big band, the Chico Marx Orchestra. Groucho began a career as a radio and television entertainer. From 1947 to 1961, he was the host of the quiz show You Bet Your Life (along with a money-bearing artificial duck) on NBC. He was also an author—his writings include the autobiographical Groucho and Me (1959), Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1964), and The Groucho Letters (1967).

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. Had the film come into fruition, it would have been the first time the Brothers had appeared as a quartet since 1933.

The 1957 talk show Tonight! America After Dark, hosted by Jack Lescoulie, may supply the only public footage in which all five brothers appeared. On October 1, 1962, Groucho introduced Johnny Carson to the audience of The Tonight Show as the new host.

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 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 TV 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.

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. 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:

Films with the three Marx Brothers (post-Zeppo):

Solo endeavors:


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 was a real doctor 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.

Paramount films

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 films

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.

Room Service

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.

Love Happy

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, who also owns video rights in Region 4 and in France.

Television distribution is now in the hands of CBS Television Distribution (formerly known as CBS Paramount Domestic Television), having inherited them from Republic, Worldvision Enterprises, and Paramount Domestic Television. Video rights in much of the world are also divided by country, with Universal owning the UK video rights.


  • Comedic relations of the Marx brothers were Al Shean aka Albert Schönberg (1868–1949) (brother to Minnie Marx) and Mary Livingstone (aka Sadye Marks) (1906–1983) (cousin of the Marx brothers and wife of Jack Benny).
  • The Marx Brothers inspired the characters of Yakko, Wakko and Dot in the 90s animated cartoon series Animaniacs
  • In 1925, Harpo was the first brother to appear on screen in a widely released film, having been cast in Too Many Kisses as "The Village Peter Pan." It was in this role that Harpo spoke the only line he would ever speak in front of a movie or TV camera: "You sure you can't move?" But as it was a silent movie, audiences didn't hear his voice.
  • The British rock group Queen released in 1975 an album called A Night at the Opera, a name which they chose after watching the Marx Brothers' movie. Their next album was called A Day at the Races, also inspired by the Marx Brothers' 1937 movie.
  • The Marman clamp was first produced by Herbert (Zeppo) Marx, after the inventor approached him with the device. It was manufactured by his company Marman Products. At the time it was designed to secure cargo during transport. The U.S. Military used it to transport the atomic bombs used at the end of the Second World War.
  • The Cluster mission consists of 4 identical scientific satellites, flying in formation, to explore the Earth's magnetosphere. The original 4 satellites were unofficially christened Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo; the 5th (spare) satellite was christened Gummo.
  • The movies House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, directed by Rob Zombie, contain characters that assume the names of Marx Brothers characters, including Capt. Spaulding, Rufus Firefly, and Otis Driftwood.
  • Gummo, directed by Harmony Korine, is named after the Marx brother who never made it to the screen.
  • SPEBSQSAmarker barbershop quartet The New Tradition, gold medalists in 1985, based their act on the Marx Brothers. The tenor was Zeppo, the lead Chico, the baritone Harpo (who sang but never spoke), and the bass Groucho.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Prof. Henry Jones, Sr., upon realizing his son Indiana has brought his Grail diary right back to the Nazis he was trying to keep it from, he sarcasticly says that it would have been better off if he sent it to the Marx Brothers.
  • In 2002, Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore wrote and produced A Night at the Nutcracker. The play, inspired by the Marx Bros., was called "the movie the Marx Brothers never made, but should have." The book and lyrics were by Van Zandt and Milmore, and the music by Ed Alton (and, of course Tchaikovsky). Published worldwide with Samuel French, Inc.
  • In 2007, the Swedish production company Eva Rydberg Nöjesproduktion made a stage play, called Den stora premiären (The Grand Premiere), dedicated to the Marx Brothers where actors played the Marx Brothers playing other characters. "Groucho" played Captain Spoling (a take on Captain Spalding in Animal Crackers), "Chico" played Ravelli, lawyer from the company Ravelli, Ravelli and Ravelli (and Ravelli) (a take on the Italian-named characters Chico often played and also a nod to a well-known Swedish soccer goal keeper by that name) and "Harpo" played Charlie, another lawyer. Like the real Harpo, he did not speak, except for one scene in the middle of the play, where he explained to another cast member, that he could speak, but often found it better to keep quiet, since people said too much anyway. The other cast member was to keep this a secret and later in the play, the Harpo character Charlie would confuse one of the villains, by hiding behind a piano and speak a few words, the villain not knowing where they came from.
  • In the comic book series Cerebus the Aardvark, both Groucho, as Lord Julius, and Chico make appearances as powerful rulers of nations as part of Dave Sims critique on political bureaucracy.
  • The 2006 album Do This! by experimental jazz group Reptet features four tracks named after the Marx Brothers: Zeppo, Harpo, Chico, and Groucho, respectively. There is no mention of Gummo.
  • In an episode of Married with Children, the father of the Bundy family, after a series of incidents where nobody cares about his opinion, comments "Am I the forgotten Marx Brother? Am I Zeppo Bundy?".
  • In the movie Twelve Monkeys by Terry Gilliam, there is a show playing on TV in the insane asylum: "The Four Marx Brothers, Monkey Business". Gilliam's film Brazilmarker starts with a clip of "The Coconuts" on TV.

See also



  • Adamson, Joe. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo: A Celebration of the Marx Brothers New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.
  • Chandler, Charlotte. Hello, I Must Be Going: Groucho And His Friends. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN 978-1847391049.
  • Kanfer, Stefan. Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx. New York: Knopf, 2000.
  • Marx, Arthur. My Life with Groucho New Jersey: Barricade Books, 1992.
  • Marx, Bill. Son of Harpo Speaks. Albany: BearManor Media, 2007. ISBN 1593930623.
  • Marx, Groucho. Groucho and Me. New York: B. Geis Associates, 1959.
  • Marx, Harpo, and Rowland Barber. Harpo Speaks! New York: B. Geis Associates, 1961

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