team of American movie comedians. The members were Julius (1890?–1977), known as Groucho; Arthur (1888?–1964), originally Adolph and known as Harpo; Leonard (1887?–1961), known as Chico; and two other brothers, Milton (Gummo) and Herbert (Zeppo), who had both left the act by 1935; all were born in New York City. After starting in vaudeville they made a sensation on Broadway with The Cocoanuts
and Animal Crackers,
both of which they transferred to film (1929, 1930). Their anarchic, slapstick humor turned dignified settings into playhouses for Groucho's outrageous puns and wisecracks, Harpo's horn honking and girl chasing, and Chico's distorted logic. Zeppo appeared in their first five films as straight man. Their films include Monkey Business
(1931), Horse Feathers
(1932), Duck Soup
(1933), and A Night at the Opera
(1935). Groucho enjoyed a solo career as film actor, television game show emcee, and master raconteur in concert.
See autobiographies by Groucho (1959) and Harpo (1961); A. Marx, Life with Groucho (1954) and Son of Groucho (1972); biographies of Groucho by H. Arce (1979) and S. Kanfer (2001); Groucho Marx and R. J. Anobile, The Marx Bros. Scrapbook (1973); S. Kanfer: The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx (2000); S. Louvish, Monkey Business (2001); G. Mitchell, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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