Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, 1890 - 1977

portrait of Julius Henry 'Groucho' Marx


Born: 2 October 1890, New York City
Died: 19 August 1977, Los Angeles, California

The Marx family lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in a community of immigrants. Minnie, with a relatives in show business and burning ambition for her sons, intended for Julius to go into medicine but needed him to leave school at twelve to earn money. By that time he was a voracious reader with a taste for Horatio Alger's stories. In 1909 "The Four Nightingales" were performing in vaudeville, during an off performance in Texas they turned to cracking jokes between them and were surprised to find that the audience liked their comedy more than their music. They became the biggest comedy act at the Palace Theater, the pinnacle of vaudeville venues, and began a string of very successful Broadway shows, some of which became movies as well. In 1947 Julius, then universally known as Groucho, was tapped as host of You Bet Your Life, a radio quiz show in which the quizzes were an excuse to let Groucho comically interact with the contestants. Each show was a half hour, but edited down from a full hour of tape. When the show moved to NBC in 1950 it also ran on TV, the process of filming and editing meant that unlike most shows, they were able to package The Best of Groucho as reruns in the summer months. The show ran on radio from 1947 to 1957 and on TV from 1950 to 1961. Marx was a popular guest on other shows, was a frequent guest host on The Tonight Show after Jack Paar retired, and introduced Johnny Carson six months later. Countless later comedians site him as an influence.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Museum of Broadcast Communications

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