Was told by studio executive Walter Wanger to lose the greasepaint moustache as it was an "obvious fake". (Source: Joseph Adamson III in his book Groucho, Harpo, Chico and sometimes Zeppo (1973)
He was to have played the title role in a TV movie of L. Frank Baum's "The Magical Monarch of Mo" with a teleplay by Gore Vidal, which was never produced.
Brother of Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Gummo Marx and Zeppo Marx.
Died three days after Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, due to the furor over the former's death, the media paid little attention to the passing of this comic genius.
When talking about Margaret Dumont, the actress who frequently played the dowager who acted as a punching bag for Groucho's verbal insults, he claimed the secret to their chemistry is that she never understood what he was saying.
Once during the run of "I'll Say She Is" (the brothers' first Broadway play), his brother Harpo Marx tried to play a practical joke on him by chasing a chorus girl onto the stage while Groucho was in the middle of his act. Not to be outdone, he simply pulled out his watch and said "The Five Fifteen is right on schedule".
Had a fifth brother, Gummo Marx, who performed with the other brothers in vaudeville. He left the act before the brothers started to make movies. He remained close to Groucho for the rest of his life.
He suffered from insomnia, which he claimed was due to a financial loss in the stock market in October 1929. When he suffered from insomnia, he used to call people up in the middle of the night and insult them.
The FBI had a file on him after he made some jokes about communism.
Shortly after his death, his children found a gag letter written by Groucho that stated that he wanted to be buried on top of Marilyn Monroe.
Brother-in-law of Barbara Marx, Susan Fleming and Dee Hartford
Father of Arthur Marx, Miriam Marx, and Melinda Marx.
A famous gag toy was modeled after his face - the dark black glasses with big orange nose and mustache "disguise" toy (known as the "Beagle-Puss" in the gag shop market.).
There are at least two versions of how Julius Henry Marx got his more famous nickname. One is that it came from his general disposition. The other, that, during the Marx Brothers' early days in vaudeville, he was the keeper of the act's "grouch bag" or money purse. Groucho, himself, said, on one occasion, "my own name, I never did understand."
George Fenneman, Groucho's announcer on You Bet Your Life (1950), was once asked if Groucho ever embarrassed him on the air. "Each and every show," Fenneman replied.
Nephew of actor Al Shean.
In the 1950s Groucho was invited to take a tour of the New York Stock Exchange. While in the observation booth, he grabbed the public address system handset and began singing "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". Upon hearing silence coming from the trading floor, he walked into view, was given a loud cheer by the traders, and shouted, "Gentlemen, in 1929 I lost eight hundred thousand dollars on this floor, and I intend to get my money's worth!" For fifteen minutes, he sang, danced, told jokes, and all this time, the Wall Street stock ticker was running blank.
Groucho's show "You Bet Your Life" (on radio from 1947 to 1956 over ABC, CBS, and finally NBC) was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.
At the time of his death he was not aware that his brother Gummo Marx had passed away four months earlier. His family believed that it was a kindness not to tell him.
Son of Sam Marx and Minnie Marx (nee Schoenberg).
In 1989, the Republic of Abkhazia (in the former Soviet Georgia) proclaimed independence. To show the world they were rejecting their Communist past, they issued two postage stamps of Groucho Marx and John Lennon (as opposed to Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin).
Uncle of Maxine Marx, Bill Marx and Bob Marx
Long-time companion of Erin Fleming.
There's a famous club in London called the Groucho, frequented by actors and celebrities. It got its name from the famous Groucho quote that he would not join any club that would accept him as a member.
Smashed a violin onstage at Carnegie Hall, in a mock "tribute" to Jack Benny.
Father-in-law of Sahn Berti
His double album "An Evening with Groucho" (A&M: 1972), recorded at a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, was a surprise best-seller and a Grammy nominee for Best Comedy Recording. His accompanist on that occasion was the then unknown Marvin Hamlisch.
Grandfather of actress Jade Marx-Berti.
Was the quiet, introverted middle brother of 5, and suffered the middle sibling condition. He never got as much attention as his older brothers (Chico Marx & Harpo Marx), who were wild and charming, or his two younger brothers (Zeppo Marx & Gummo Marx), who were cuter. The plus side of this outsider status was that he developed a cutting wit to get attention.
Was never much of a womanizer in real life (as were his older brother, Chico Marx & Harpo Marx), having joked later in life about his disastrous attempts at courting as a young man.
Was good friends with rock star Alice Cooper, often inviting him over at 11:00 pm to watch TV. A drawing of Groucho can also be seen on the cover of "Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits" album. In 1978, when the original giant white letters of the famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign were auctioned off in order to raise money for new replacement letters, Alice bought an "O" in memory of Groucho.
His cremated remains are entombed at Eden Memorial Park, San Fernando, California, USA. Coincidentally, Eden was also the first name of his third (and final) wife.
He was voted, as one of The Marx Brothers, the 62nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by "Entertainment Weekly".
Was a close friend of "The Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty.
Was intended to make a joke on the set of William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) by appearing in Father Merrin's clothes when Ellen Burstyn opened the door. However, the idea was dropped due to scheduling conflicts.
He was portrayed by Lewis J. Stadlen in the Broadway show "Minnie's Boys," which ran at the Imperial Theatre for 80 Performances from Mar 26 to May 30, 1970. Stadlen won a 1970 Theatre World Award for his performance.
Was named, as The Marx Brothers, the #20 Greatest Actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends List by The American Film Institute.
Was a big fan of Gilbert & Sullivan (W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan) operettas and used to stage Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along evenings at his home. During the 1950s he appeared as Ko-Ko on NBC-TV in an acclaimed abridged version of "The Mikado.".
Carried on extensive correspondence with such literary giants as T.S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg. He also was well-known for attaching a hilarious P.S. to his most serious letters. According to Dick Cavett, Groucho added this P.S. to a lengthy account of his memories of Charles Chaplin from vaudeville days: ""Did you ever notice that Peter O'Toole has a double-phallic name?"
The success of The Marx Brothers at MGM was due to the genius of Irving Thalberg. Upon his untimely death, the quality of their films declined mainly because studio chief Louis B. Mayer did not care for them or their act.
The famous phrase "Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" is often referred to as a Groucho quote, but it was actually delivered by Chicolini (Chico Marx) in Duck Soup (1933) while impersonating Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho).
Great-uncle of Gregg Marx, Laura Guzik and Brett Marx
Knew Charles Chaplin during his vaudeville days.
Was in attendance at The Beatles 1964 Hollywood Bowl concert, and there is existing footage of him applauding.
His son Arthur Marx was once smoking a corncob pipe in his room when he heard his father coming down the hall. In a panic, he stuffed the still-lit pipe into a drawer. Groucho came in, sniffed the air and left without a word. A moment later he was back with a briar pipe and a pouch of tobacco. "This will be better than that corncob you're using," he said. Arthur asked if his father was angry and Groucho said, "Nonsense. Smoking won't hurt you. I've been smoking for years, and aside from the fact that I feel terrible all the time it hasn't hurt me, either!".
Came fifth in a Channel Four (UK) poll in 2005 to find the all-time favourite comedians' comedian.
In the Broadway play "A Day in Hollywood--A Night in the Ukraine," which opened on May 1, 1980, and closed on Sep 27, 1981 (for 588 performances), a Groucho-type character, Moscow lawyer Serge B. Samovar, was played by David Garrison.
Came to regret never going beyond grammar school. To compensate, he became a voracious reader in adulthood, famed for his literary knowledge. Furthermore, in addition to the aforementioned regular correspondence to noted authors, he wrote several books himself.
When he died in 1977, he left an estate valued at $2 million.
His father was a tailor.
He sang "Everybody Works But Father" in both English and German on The Dick Cavett Show (1968).
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for Radio at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard and for Television at 1734 Vine Street.
W.C. Fields said that The Marx Brothers was the only act he couldn't follow on the live stage. He is known to have appeared on the same bill with them only once, during an engagement at Keith's Orpheum Theatre in Columbus, OH, in January 1915. At the time the Marx Brothers were touring "Home Again", and it didn't take Fields long to realize how his quiet comedy juggling act was faring against the anarchy of the Marxes. Fields later wrote of the engagement (and the Marxes), "They sang, danced, played harp and kidded in zany style. Never saw so much nepotism or such hilarious laughter in one act in my life. The only act I could never follow . . . I told the manager I broke my wrist and quit".
Appears on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp, issued 11 August 2009, in the Early TV Memories issue honoring You Bet Your Life (1950).
Appeared as Johnny Carson's very first guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) where he introduced Carson to his newfound audience (October 1, 1962).
Maternal grandfather, Lafe Schonburg, was a magician and ventriloquist who toured Germany for over 50 years with his wife and three children, one of whom was Groucho's mother Minnie. The Schonburgs emigrated to the United States in 1860. Lafe Schonburg died in Chicago, IL in 1919 at the age of 101.
He along with his brothers star in five of the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Movies: Duck Soup (1933) at #5, A Night at the Opera (1935) at #12, A Day at the Races (1937) at #59, Horse Feathers (1932) at #65 and Monkey Business (1931) at #73.
His famous quote, "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members," first appeared in the gossip column of the Hearst newspaper's Erskine Johnson on October 20, 1949. Johnson claimed it came from Marx's resignation letter to the Friars Club.
The cartoon character Bugs Bunny was modeled after him.
In 1959 The Marx Brothers reunited for General Electric Theater: The Incredible Jewel Robbery (1959). The silent half hour starred Chico and Harpo as a pair of jewel thieves who, disguised as Groucho, plan the perfect crime. Groucho joins them in the police line up at the end of the show. A TV pilot in 1959, Deputy Seraph again teamed Chico and Harpo, this time as two angels whose spirits possess the bodies of people on Earth. The pilot episode was never finished and never seen but a few seconds showed up on the A&E Network's biography of Groucho.
Paramount wanted him for the role of Dr. Dreyfuss in The Apartment (1960), but Billy Wilder wanted an actor with more dramatic weight for the part.
Famous Groucho movie character names include Otis P. Driftwood, Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush, Wolf J. Flywheel, S. Quentin Quale, J. Cheever Loophole and Mr. Hammer.
He, Chico and Harpo made three attempts at a weekly TV series but they all failed.
Granddaughter Jade Marx-Berti is Clint Eastwood's ex-sister-in-law. Jade is married to Dominic V. Ruiz, the brother of Clint's former wife Dina Eastwood. Coincidentally, Groucho's hand print square by the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard touches corners with Clint's hand print square. When Jade and Dominic started dating, they viewed this as a "sign" of their relationship being written "in stone and in the stars".
He never appeared in a film nominated for Best Picture Oscar.