Was There Anyone Funnier Than Groucho Marx?

Groucho's legacy

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian and film star. He is famed as a master of wit. He made fifteen feature films with his siblings, the Marx Brothers, and also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life. He had a distinctive image, which included a heavy greasepaint moustache and eyebrows and glasses.

Many Groucho-like characters and Groucho references have appeared in popular culture, some long after his death and even aimed at audiences who would never have seen a Marx Brothers movie, providing a testament to the character's lasting appeal. Groucho's glasses, nose, and moustache have become icons of comedy-to this day, glasses with fake noses and moustaches (referred to as "Groucho glasses," "nose-glasses," and other names) resembling Groucho are still sold by novelty and costume shops.

Actor Frank Ferrante has performed as Groucho Marx for several years under rights granted by the Marx family in a one-man show entitled "An Evening With Groucho" done in live theater throughout the United States. With piano accompaniment, Ferrante takes the audience from Marx' early years in Vaudeville to his final days, incorporating songs from several Marx Brothers movies. Gabe Kaplan has appeared in a filmed version.

Alan Alda often vamped as Groucho on M*A*S*H and a minor semi-recurring character in the series (played by Loudon Wainwright III) was named Captain Calvin Spalding in a nod towards Groucho's character in Animal Crackers, Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding. Rob Zombie also uses several Groucho Marx character names for main characters in his movies, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.

Two of Queen's albums, A Night at the Opera (1975) and A Day at the Races (1976) are named after two of the Marx Brothers' films.

Writer/artist Dave Sim revived Groucho as Lord Julius, the smooth-talking "Grandlord" of the fictional city-state of Palnu in Sim's epic 300-issue comic book Cerebus.

Groucho is referenced in the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi, via an impersonator who, suffering from memory loss, believes himself to be the real Groucho Marx. He is Dylan's sidekick on his supernatural-themed adventures.

On the famous Hollywood Sign in California, one of the "O"s is dedicated to Groucho Marx. Alice Cooper contributed over $27,000 to remodel the sign, in memory of his friend Groucho Marx.

In a tribute to Groucho, the BBC remade the radio sitcom Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, with contemporary actors playing the parts of the original cast. The series was repeated on digital radio station BBC7.

Scottish playwright Louise Oliver wrote a play named "Waiting For Groucho" about Chico and Harpo Marx waiting for Groucho to turn up to the filming of their last project together. This was performed by Glasgow theatre company Rhymes with Purple Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe and in Glasgow and Hamilton in 2007/8. The role of Groucho was played by Scottish actor, Frodo McDaniel.

Some of the Greatest Groucho Quotes Ever Hoid:

From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.

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Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

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Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

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Outside of a dog, a book is your best friend, and inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

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I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

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Africa is God's country, and He can have it. (Animal Crackers)

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This bear was six foot seven in his stocking feet and had shoes on. (Animal Crackers)

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One woman and one man was good enough for your grandmother, but who wants to marry your grandmother? Nobody, not even your grandfather. (Animal Crackers)

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One morning, I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas I don't know. (Animal Crackers)

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We took some pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed, but we're going back again in a couple of weeks. (Animal Crackers)

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Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty. (Monkey Business)

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Afraid? Me? A man who's licked his weight in wild caterpillars? (Monkey Business)

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Why don't you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out? (Horse Feathers)

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My boy, get in there and play like you did in the last game. I've got five dollars bet on the other team. (Horse Feathers)

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Two thousand dollars for ice? I can get an Eskimo for two hundred dollars and make my own ice. (Horse Feathers)

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I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived. (Horse Feathers)

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You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it. (Horse Feathers)

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I've got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.

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Clear? Huh! Why a 4-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a 4-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it. (Duck Soup)

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Don't look now, but there's one man too many in this room, and I think it's you. (Duck Soup)

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Say! You cover a lot of ground yourself. You'd better beat it. I hear they're gonna tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing. (Duck Soup)

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You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. (Duck Soup)

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You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here. You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. (Duck Soup)

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Maybe you can suggest something. As a matter of fact, you do suggest something. To me you suggest a baboon. (Duck Soup)

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Chicolini here may talk like an idiot and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot. (Duck Soup)

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Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.

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When I invite a woman to dinner, I expect her to look at my face. That's the price she has to pay. (Night at the Opera)

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You're willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why, you can get a phonograph record of Minnie the Moocher for 75 cents. And for a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie. (Night at the Opera)

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No, no, I'd rather not. I have an agreement with the houseflies. The flies don't practice law and I don't walk on the ceiling. (At the Circus)

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I'd have thrashed him to within an inch of his life, but I didn't have a tape measure. (Go West)

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We've got to speed things up in this hotel. Chef, if a guest orders a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he orders a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he orders a one-minute egg, give him a chicken and let him work it out for himself. (A Night in Casablanca)

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A woman can smell mink through six inches of lead. (Double Dynamite)

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There were three things that Chico was always on-a phone, a horse, or a broad.

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I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

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I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

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Humor is reason gone mad.

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Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows - marriage does.

Groucho's Signature Song "Lydia the Tattooed Lady"

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx   (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977)   American comedian and film star
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) American comedian and film star

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Comments 4 comments

Eddie Perkins 8 years ago

This is great. I don’t remember watching much of “Groucho” but I do remember him. I didn’t know he was so funny. I laughed till my sides hurt. Thank you for this hub. Thumbs up and Stumble. ~ eddi


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Wonderful tribute. My children are beginning to enjoy the Marx brothers also.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I grew up watching "You Bet Your Life" on old Black and white TV. He was brilliantly funny.

One of my favorite stories about him concerns an event that happened many years ago in when he and his family stayed at a hotel with a swimmining pool. Their policy was that Jews could not use the pool.

His wife was not Jewish, and he asked the manager if his little daughter could go in the pool up to her waist, since she was only half-Jewish.


Lawrence Hussar 5 years ago

The last photo is not Groucho!!! It is a photo of Frank Ferrante, a Groucho impersonator.

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