Groucho Marx (1890 – 1977) was the bushy-browed, cigar-smoking wise-cracker with the painted-on moustache and stooped walk who was the leader of The Marx Brothers. The Marx Brothers, known by their stage names: Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Gummo and Zeppo, were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in films from the first half of the 20th century. Five of the Marx Brothers’ 13 feature films were selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) as among the Top 100 Comedies of All Time; two of them Duck Soup (1933) and A Night At The Opera (1935) in the Top 15. They are among the greatest and most influential comedians of the 20th century.
With one-liners that were often double entendres, Groucho never cursed in any of his performances and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love of music and singing (The Marx Brothers started as a singing group), one of the things Groucho was best known for was his rendition of the song Lydia the Tattooed Lady.
Chico was known for playing piano and Harpo became a famous harp player. Groucho played guitar. He played guitar in one film, Horse Feathers (1932). In a rowboat, Groucho performs Everyone Says I Love You for costar Thelma Todd on a vintage Gibson L-5. 1930s superstar Will Rogers said:
“Groucho can play as good on the guitar as Harpo can on the harp, or Chico on the piano. But he never does. So, he is really what I call an ideal musician; he can play but doesn’t.”
In 1964, Groucho went to Germany and hired a car with a chauffeur and told the driver to take him and some of his friends to the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide. He climbed the debris and then launched himself, unsmiling, into a frenetic dance routine. The dance on Hitler’s grave lasted a couple of minutes. Nobody in his group applauded and nobody laughed.