The Tampa Times from Tampa, Florida on October 9, 1972 · 13
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The Tampa Times from Tampa, Florida · 13

Tampa, Florida
Issue Date:
Monday, October 9, 1972
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t ' -' r' ' ' v- . .-r .v. , .... ' ' 4"' V " ( v - -t- -y Z j j rr -7 '3 S3) Jr ftp Wimp tines Monday, October 9, 1972 Section Of the Marx Brothers, only Groucho is a I i ve to see the replaying of their famous movies. Does it make him sad to see them? 'No. Why should it? My brothers are dead, but HI be joining them soon enough. Just remember, everybody dies. Even Groucho Marx. It's no big deal Life 5 He's a rea roce I took my wife out to a local shopping center the other night, where she was conducting advanced research in radical new ways to spend money. A scant few minutes before closing time, just when I was beginning to think I was home free, she finally thought of something she couldn't live without another day. "I need a rake," she said. ' "We've got a rake," I replied. "In fact, we've got three rakes one for leaves, one for bahia grass and a big long-handled one that I use to get my Frisbee off the roof after a bad . throw' "I don't mean a yard rake," she said. "I mean a carpet rake." Sure enough, right there in the middle of the carpet department was a rake. Now I've heard of carpet rakes before, but I always thought it was some sort of joke, like a left-handed monkey wrench. As the fluorescent lights overhead blinked off one by one, she quickly purchased this indoor garden tool. It was $1.98, plus the usual 4 cents state rakeoff. When we got home, she could hardly wait to try it. Correction. She could hardly wait for me to try it. We made an agreement long ago that we would split the gardening chores she handled the ones outside the house, and I took care of the ones inside the house. That was before we bought shag carpets, and all I had to do was water the plastic plants occasionally. "How does it work?" she asked. "Not bad," I said. "I've only done . the dining room, and I've already raked up a bushel of plastic leaves, a dime and half of the kids' dinner. Why is it necessary to rake a carpet, anyway?" "It keeps them from getting mat ted," she said. I continued raking, and found several other missing items in the living room, including the kids' new pet hamster. It was really a rather interesting experience, sort of like grooming a llama, or combing Smokey the Bear's hair, I imagine. If I ever get out of the newspaper business, I may become either a gardener or a hairdresser at Busch Gardens. The rake's progress wasn't exactly fast. At times, I wasn't sure whether the carpet fibers were matted or mating, and in a few areas they seemed to be molting. And, I must admit I felt a bit foolish, raking a rug. It didn't help matters any when the cat walked in and started following me around, hoping I'd flush a field mouse or at least a large locust. ' "I've finished raking," I told my ; wife. "What do I do now, pile all the " trash up and start the world's first Kodel bonfire, or spread it over the plastic plants for mulch?" I don't like to boast, but for my first attempt at carpet coiffuring, I didn't do too badly. In fact, I only had one real problem. I never' could figure out which side to part the rug on. "It's crying cause summer is over, s i r-" - f if i ., By BURT PRELUTSKV Los Angeles Times Service Fade in The screen Is black NARRATOR In the beginning, there were five boys born to Minnie and Frcnchy Marx. Their names were Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton and Herbert. The entire world would eventually know these sons of German immigrants as Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo who, along with Romulus and Remus and Orville and Wilbur became one of the three most famous brothers acts in history. In one form or another vaudeville Broadway, movies, concerts, nightclubs, radio and TV one or more of the brothers has been entertaining audiences since 1906. In order to find out what made these classic cuckoos tick, we talked to the people who worked with them, married them and knew them best. DISSOLVE TO: Interior Bantam Cock Restaurant Day Bill Marx, one of Harpo's four adopted children, is sitting, drinking coffee. A composer-pianist, he's long-haired, handsome and soft-spoken. BILL MARX My first recollection of the brothers was seeing "The Big Store," when I was four years old, at the old Orpheum. I only remember that seeing my father and uncles on the screen was like seeing strangers. I recall being terribly frightened that rny fa-' ther was going to hurt himself in the roller-skating sequence. ' i K ... :.. . ft, if. 4 v 5 t , J si V Jt v if X 1 f. lT,A 'Don't believe it. I got into at these concerts. I was a REPORTER What was Harpo like, though when he took off the wig? How different was he from the zany, blond-chasing mute he portrayed? BILL MARX My father was the quietest, most peace-, ful individual I've ever known. He was never out to prove anything. I have nothing but truly fond feelings about him. He was a wonderfully gentle man. REPORTER , What was it like growing up with Groucho and Chico Marx as your uncles? BILL MARX I never saw much of them. What socializing the brothers did generally took place at Hillcrest. But dad always had dinner with us. That's why he got married to have a family. And once he had that, it was all he really cared about. Except for the harp. He'd practice that for two or three hours every day. Dad could never read a note of music, though. He played very well, but he couldn't play with an orchestra because he didn't know when to come in. Chico, on the other hand, was a lousy piano player. He was the only piano player I ever heard of who never owned a piano. It' was dad who taught him to play. When he was a young man, my dad played piano in a whorehouse. REPORTER What do you remember best about Groucho? . BILL MARX I remember a dinner party. Whenever the brothers did get together, they'd sing a song they'd done in their vaudeville act. It was called "The Peasy Weasy Song." Well, y.J-.,. ...... . '.. .-I a.. '. 1 V ' r.P 4 t 4 r radio and TV because I liked money. That's what I'm doing poor boy from New York and I want all the money I can lay my hands on.' I recall that they'd finished singing it and had sat down to eat , and Zcppo started telling anecdotes about the old days and Groucho fell off his chair, laughing. For all the years I've known Groucho, I've never known him to do more than smile at a story or a joke. I remember being terribly impressed that Uncle Zcppo could make Groucho actually fall off his chair. I'm in awe of Groucho. He started in the business when he was nine years old. Can you imagine anyone making his living at anything for 73 years? REPORTER : Did you ever know their mother, the remarkable Minnie? BILL MARX No. She died before I was born. But she must have been fantastic. AH she wanted was for them to be successful. She wasn't the typical stage mother, though. It wasn't a vicarious thing with her. She only decided on show business because her brother, Al Sheean, of Gallagher and Sheean, was in . show business and successful. If Al had been a doctor, she would have turned her sons into doctors. If Sheean had been a successful lawyer, I assure you it would have been Marx, Marx, Marx, Marx and Marx, attorneys at law. DISSOLVE TO: Interior Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel Day Groucho Marx, wearing a blazer, white tur-tleneck and beret, is eating clam chowder and ogling the fashion models passing by. GROUCHO I hope the kid's piano playing is better than his memory. I started in the business . .MfZ,Ae'fo X 1 r-f- 'lit A vs i4, 'A 11 K L ',S.,J "Ik. -Hi. when I was 16 years old, not when I was nine. But he's right about Harpo. He was wonderful much nicer than me. Ho and Gummo were always my favorites. I was the first of the boys to get Into show business. I wanted to be like my Uncle Al. I had been singing with a Catholic choir on Madison Avenue every Sunday for a dollar, when I saw an ad that said a boy was wanted for a vaudeville act. When I got there, this guy named LcRoy, wearing lipstick, opened the door. I didn't know about fags. Anyway, I sang "Somebody's Sweetheart I want to Be," and I was hired. There was another boy in the act, and he and LeRoy fell in love and ran off, leaving the show in Cripple Creek, Colo. I got a job driving a wagon until my mother mailed me the fare home. REPORTER At what point did the brothers get together professionally? GROUCHO Well, by this time Harpo was working in a butcher shop, delivering frankfurters. He got fired for eating more than he delivered. And Chico was now working in a whorehouse in Freeport, Long Island, playing piano. He didn't even know what the place was until it was raided. After that episode, he got a job in Far Rockaway as a lifeguard. Unfortunately, Chico could only swim about 200 yards. God only knows how many people drowned as a result. My mother decided we should form an act. Well, we had Harpo, who couldn't sing very well or talk very well, for that matter. Gummo could sing and dance pretty well. Zeppo never wanted to be in show business and once Gummo was drafted for World War I, he never came back to the act. CUT TO: Interior Hillcrest Country Club Day Gummo Marx, who looks a lot younger and sprier than 80, is drinking a martini. His voice sounds a great deal like Groucho's. REPORTER I know you live in Cathedral City. What brings you in from the desert? GUMMO I'm making the rounds of doctors, as usual. Next week they're performing a hysterectomy on me it's the only thing left they haven't done. REPORTER Do you ever regret having dropped out of the act? ' GUMMO Not in the least. After the Army, I was in the garment industry for several years. In the '30s, Chico called me one day and said, "That's no business for you to be in. Get into the talent agency business with Zeppo." And that's what I did. Eventually, the agency was sold to MCA, and they decided I was too old for them. So Groucho made me his rep. He was on radio at the time for Pabst Blue Ribbon. One week, he and Irving Breacher wrote a skit called "The Flotsam Family." Groucho turned over to me his rights to it, arid Irving and I produced it as "The Life of Riley." So I never had reason to regret dropping out of the act. Even my mother was delighted. After all, one of the boys had to go into the Army, and I was the most expendable. When I stepped out, Zeppo stepped in. I must say, though, that he was the only actor who ever had less talent than me. REPORTER What were the brothers like in those early days? , j GUMMO They never really changed. Groucho was always the sharpest. He was the motivating genius of the act. Harpo was really an angel; he played the right instrument. Chico was always Chico always crazy for girls and gambling. And, of course, I was always the best-looking of the lot. Not that that's saying much.- REPORTER How did the brothers come by their names? GUMMO Art Fisher, a vaudevillian cartoonist, named us. He named me Gummo because I had holes in my shoes, and I'd wear rub- , bers, or gumshoes, over them even when it wasn't raining. Chico was Chico because he chased the chicks; Harpo, because he played the harp. I'm not sure about Groucho. In those days, performers wouldn't want to leave their valuables lying around the dressing room, so they'd carry them on stage in a bag hanging from their neck. The bag was called grouch bag. Groucho may have gotten his name from the bag or from his general attitude. And Zeppo got his name as a result of our farm. REPORTER The Marx brothers owned a farm? GUMMO Oh, yes. Around 1915 or 1916, we were working in Chicago and we decided to buy a farm in the country. We gave each other hick nick-names, like Lum and Zeke. Well, See THE MARX BROTHERS, page 2-B ft

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