Who was Groucho Marx?

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Groucho Marx Quotes and Characterization

Eyeglasses, cigar, big mustache and ever-twitching eyebrows: who am I talking about? If you didn't say Groucho Marx [Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (1890 – 1977), the most famous of the four Marx Brothers], you are too young to know better. That is your unfortunate loss. However, to this day, you can go into a gag store to buy a glasses-and-mustache disguise and become Groucho. His distinctive look was carried over from Vaudeville, where he and his brothers actually started out as a singing group called The Four Nightingales. The Nightingales weren't that big a hit (who likes a bird with twitching eyebrows?), but when they quit singing and started cracking jokes instead, stars were born.

Groucho Marx - Early Years

The fast-talking, funny-walking, cigar-chewing wag with painted-on eyebrows and mustache came about as a substitute for his usual ethnic German accent, which started getting boos from patriotic audiences after the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania. He made a quick switch to his classic character and the rest is history.

Although Groucho started out wanting to be a doctor, those dreams were thrown out when the family needed money. The brothers went into show business, but Groucho made up for his lack of formal education by reading voraciously. One of his famous lines is “I think TV is very educational. Every time someone turns on a TV, I go in the other room and read.”

Groucho Marx Stuff from Amazon

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In addition, Groucho, the one brother who could best carry a note, introduced several clever songs in these films, including Hooray for Captain Spaulding; Hello, I Must Be Going; Whatever It Is, I'm Against It; Everyone Says I Love You; and, probably his most famous, Lydia the Tattooed Lady. Groucho went on to host a popular radio and television show, both called You Bet Your Life, which ran from 1946 through 1961.

Grouch Marx Movies

Groucho and his brothers, Harpo, Chico and Gummo, were a hit on Vaudeville, then Broadway, and finally on the big screen in a series of comedy spoofs, including The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera. Their movies were chock full of fast-paced, sarcastically silly, wickedly witty dialogue (especially from Groucho) and lots of physical humor.

Groucho Marx on YouTube

Below is a video clip from the classic television show "What's My Line." Groucho is on the panel of celebrity judges or questioners the are trying to figure out what the occupation is of a special guest and get to ask her yes or no questions. Groucho makes this show very fun and entertaining as the line of questioning gets a bit out of hand and some sexual references and innuendos which makes for a very funny show.

What's My Line: Groucho Steals the Show

Groucho Marx Quotes and One Liners

A master of the one-liner, Groucho Marx was well-known for his plays on words and groan-worthy puns that are quoted often to this day. Be sure to twitch your eyebrows when you use one of these lines:


  • I wish you'd keep my hands to yourself.
  • Marriage is the chief cause of divorce.
  • Women should be obscene and not heard.
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  • Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
  • While shooting elephants in Africa, I found the tusks very difficult to remove. But in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa...
  • I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
  • You're only as young as the woman you feel.
  • Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas and how he got in my pajamas I'll never know.
  • Behind every successful man stands a woman. And behind her stands his wife.

Groucho Marx as an older gentleman
Groucho Marx as an older gentleman | Source

Groucho Marx One Liners Poll

Which one liner do you like best?

  • I wish you'd keep my hands to yourself.
  • Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
  • I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
  • You're only as young as the woman you feel.
  • Behind every successful man stands a woman. And behind her stands his wife.
See results without voting

Groucho Marx and Jack Benny

This is another great video clip from the Jack Benny Show from 1955. Here Groucho Marx is a game show host and these to comedic legends end up going back and forth for some truly classic comedy here. We can get a real sense of what makes these two comedy legends so wonderful and why they were so successful.

Jack Benny vs. Groucho 1955

The Joke's on You - How to write Comedy by Stephen Hoover available from Amazon
The Joke's on You - How to write Comedy by Stephen Hoover available from Amazon | Source

More about Comedy in this Great Ebook

Now if you enjoyed this article on Groucho Marx and have a desire to learn more about comedy and other comedy legends, then I suggest that you check out this book from Amazon written by Stephen Hoover. Hoover covers all kinds of interesting things that pertain to comedy and the ebook is one of the best sellers in this category on Amazon.

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Your Comments About Groucho Marx Here 8 comments

EJ Lambert profile image

EJ Lambert 3 years ago from Chicago, IL

People always forget in the midst of his comedy routines how remarkably intelligent the man was. To think his legacy has endured for so long is a testament to his impact on his profession.


hoov45 profile image

hoov45 3 years ago from Denham Springs, Louisiana Author

Good point EJ and thanks for your comment.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I enjoyed reading this interesting summary of Groucho Marx's career. Thank you for bringing back some of the classics that many have forgotten. The videos you've attached here are great, as well. Voted up and shared!


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

This was an amazing, detailed and entertaining look at Groucho Marx. I loved the video of his appearance on What's My Line. Great job! Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose


hoov45 profile image

hoov45 3 years ago from Denham Springs, Louisiana Author

Thank you Rose. I appreciate it very much.


hoov45 profile image

hoov45 3 years ago from Denham Springs, Louisiana Author

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment and thanks for sharing.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

I grew up in the Groucho Marx era and always thought him to be a great entertainer. However, I always heard that he wasn't the nicest person off stage. Guess you can't have everything, right?


hoov45 profile image

hoov45 3 years ago from Denham Springs, Louisiana Author

I can believe that. Thanks for commenting.

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