Born Julius Henry Marx in New York City, he is absolutely the most recognized member of the Marx Brothers by a long shot. His parents where of German Jewish and French Jewish families. He is often thought to have been the eldest of that highly successful comedic family, when in fact, both Harpo and Chico were older then he was, he was also the longest lived of the Marx Brothers. He was also certainly the most high profile of the group, doing a lot of television and appearing on a lot talk shows. In the 1950's he was really famous for for being a participant on You Bet Your Life. As to the history of The Marx Brothers, they started as a vaudeville act in the 1910's. They were all urged on the stage by their mother because of a uncle that was acting in theater. His older brother "Chico" (that would be Leonard by birth name) was the first to take to the stage. Individually, under his birth name Julius, he first took to the stage as "boy singer" in vaudeville in 1905. He must have been hilarious from the beginning; he claimed at one point that his vaudevillian acting as "hopelessly average." A wisecrack clearly meant to poke at his actual talent.
|Early Stage Vaudevillians Marx Bros. With Parents|
In regards to Hollywood there is not a lot to write about in the 1920's. As with our birthday subject man from yesterday, the venerable Stanley Holloway, because they were solidly theater people, the silent medium didn't really work for them. They did make one silent film in 1921, a short comedic film Humor Risk, that had only one public showing, and is now sadly lost. Groucho later claimed "it wasn't very good." So when full blown talkies started to become the norm in 1929 we have what is widely believed to be the very first Marx Brothers movie, The Cocoanuts.
Julius "Groucho" Marx passed away in on the 19th of August 1977 from complications due to pneumonia. As a point of just pure trivia: apparently he was a reader/fan of Horatio Alger in his early years. I have sometime fellow blogger on my live blog Scare Me On Fridays site Musik Hund to thank for finding the following "Dick Cavett Moment" embeded below.