36 years ago? Grouch Marx died on August 19, 1977?
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.
- Groucho’s biography at Marx Brothers.com
- “There ain’t no sanity clause,” Gary Giddens’s review of The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx, by Stefan Kanfer (465 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf), New York Times, June 18, 2000; the review includes chapter excerpts, and a photographic slide show of Groucho
- Top Marx (martyjava.wordpress.com)
- “The Laws of My Administration,” excerpt from Duck Soup
- “Pioneers of Wit”