He had what can conservatively be termed one of the most remarkable careers in show business.
The grounding centerpiece of a chaotic comedy band of five vaudevillians — all brothers of which three formed the performing core — Groucho Marx’s talents spanned the stage, movies, radio, tv and tv syndication. By the time he died in 1977 at age 86, he was a revered show business figure cherished by generations of fans.
It can be argued that the antics on display on the some two dozen Marx Brothers movies are a tad dated today. But Groucho’s tv incarnation remains contemporaneous, living on in DVD (a three-disc set, The Marx Brothers TV Collection, has just been released by Shout! Factory).
Yes, you undoubtedly recall Groucho’s distinctive stage presence, the bushy eyebrows topping a generous mustache, the omnipresent eyeglasses and cigar, the leering double-entendres (with inspiration from the young woman pictured above with our man; can you identify her?) and magnificently literate puns. But how much else do you know about this durable figure?
Thus our Groucho Marx Monday Quiz today, which necessarily covers his more antic freres. Our inspiration here is author Stefan Kanfer’s 2000 tome, GROUCHO: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx. Answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Which one of the following was NOT considered a member of the Marx Brothers? a) Milton (Gummo); b) Adolph (Harpo); c) Leonard (Chico) or d) Herbert (Zeppo).
2) Question: Groucho once affectionately described this non-relative performer as “the fifth Marx Brother.” Can you name this person? a) Ed Wynn; b) Bert Lahr; c) W.C. Fields or d) Margaret Dumont.
3) Question: Groucho’s mother, the former Minna Schoenberg, was the subject of a short lived Broadway musical in 1970. Can you name the show and the actress who played her?
4) Question: Which of the following was Marx Brothers’ final Hollywood movie? a) Love Happy; b) A Night at the Opera; c) A Day at the Races; or d) A Night In Casablanca.
5) Question: Groucho famously shifted his career into high gear as a single by hosting and starring in which one of these tv programs? a) What’s My Line; b) Who Said That?; c) Celebrity Billiards; or d) You Bet Your Life.
6) Question: The announcer for Groucho’s tv program (see question above) was also an actor of minor note. Can you identify him? a) Don Wilson; b) Don Pardo; c) George Fenneman; or d) Ed McMahon.
7) Question: The chief musical number in the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers later became the theme song for Groucho’s famous tv program (see questions above). a) True; or b) False?
8) Question: Even though he prided himself that MGM was the haven of only the most prestigious Hollywood stars, Louis B. Mayer had a real soft spot for Groucho and his raffish brothers. a) True; or b) False?
9) Question: Groucho’s estate was subject to various legal action upon his death. Why? a) His three children were disinherited in his will; b) His butler stole freely from Groucho’s estate; c) The bank in charge of his estate awarded a judgement against Groucho’s final consort; or d) Unpaid income taxes.
10) Question: Who gave Marx the “Groucho” nickname, which he professed to hate? a) His Uncle Julius, for whom he was actually named; b) A fellow vaudeville performer named Art Fisher; c) His mother Minnie in commenting on Marx’s dour personality; or d) His brother Adolph.