Lost history: Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977


1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life.  NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer:  Elmer Holloway

1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life. NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer: Elmer Holloway

36 years ago?  Grouch Marx died on August 19, 1977? 

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The man became an icon, though too few know the great history behind the icon. “Self-made caricature of Groucho Marx” Wikipedia image

 

That means that not only have your high school history students probably never seen much, or anything, of Groucho Marx and his comic genius; it means their parents don’t know him, either.

What a great tragedy.

Groucho Marx brought genius to American comedy films, to radio, and then to television.  His genius was of a sort that does not age, but remains fresh to audiences of today — get a group of teenagers to view Duck Soup or A Day at the Races and you’ll find them laughing heartily at even some of Marx’s more cerebral jokes.  It is symbolic that the films that brought writer Norman Cousins to laughter, and a lack of pain, were Marx Brothers movies (in the day when one had to rent a projector to show the film, long before VCR).  Cousins went on to a grand second career talking about hope in healing, starting with the book, Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit.  I recommend these films to anyone seriously injured or ill, or recovering.  We got VHS, and then DVD copies of several of the films when our kids were ill, with great effect.

Groucho Marx should be in the pantheon of great Americans, of the 20th century, if not all time, studied by children in high school, for history and for literature purposes.

Groucho’s been gone for 36 years, and we are much poorer for his passing.

More:

Groucho grills Ray Bradbury and a woman named Leticia on You Bet Your Life in a 1955 episode:

English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.” ― Groucho Marx (Wikipedia image)

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5 Responses to Lost history: Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977

  1. Ellie says:

    One of my high school age grandchildren knows Groucho. He was stuck with a Mom and a Nana who think A Night At The Opera is a classic movie that everyone should see. You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Claus.

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Mr. Byatt.

    Like

  3. john byatt says:

    my obligatory comment

    Like

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Ernie died about this time of year, as I recall. Another pioneer, especially of television.

    I’ve been especially fond of this piece, originally an ad-lib to fill some vacant time: The Zambezi Nairobi Trio

    Like

  5. Bob Becker says:

    Not as significant, but in a similar vein as a comic pioneer now forgotten mostly, how about Ernie Kovacs?

    Like

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