There was no doubt about this bent-kneed gait plus the grease-black eyebrows and mustache, the tousled hair and the razor-sharp mind.

Cigar in hand, he spat barbed-wire one-liners and goofy asides at the camera with devilish irreverence, hammering him and captivating audiences for 45 years.

“Groucho” Marx and his brothers used sophisticated visual gags and traps on burlesque stages and movie sets, through two world wars and the Great Depression, to make people laugh and distract from bad news in the world. world.

As Lloyd Vries of CBS News wrote, audiences “were surprised, then amused and finally convulsed by a kind of comedy they had never seen before… The four Marx brothers brought their own to the screen. chaotic – and subversive – vision of the world “.

At the height of their popularity, Groucho and his parents lived in Great Neck. The neighborhood kids were lining up to watch the crazy brothers rush and jump out the windows.

The leader of the unruly pack was Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx. His grandmother was a yodeling harpist, his grandfather a ventriloquist; Was there any doubt that the Marx Brothers would be entertainers?

“The secret of life is honesty and fairness. If you can pretend, you did.

Groucho was born in 1890 to European Jewish immigrants and grew up in the poor neighborhood of Yorkville, Manhattan, on the Upper East Side. He began to perform in vaudeville and burlesque in a trio of chants; her brothers then joined the song and dance comedy act run by their mother. Comedian Art Fisher gave them names reflecting their personality during a game of poker in 1914; Groucho was the one who described himself as “the moody mood”.

By 1924, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo Marx had perfected the act and starred in a Broadway hit in Coconuts. They kept company with the notable elite around the famous Algonquin Round Table, TS Eliot and George Gershwin.

When Groucho was 36, he bought a house at 21 Lincoln Road in Great Neck Villa, near the Long Island Rail Road station, for $ 27,000. His son Arthur Marx later described Great Neck: “Our house overlooked hundreds of acres of deep forest rich in birch and oak trees, unpolluted ponds and streams and all kinds of wild flora…. “

Groucho played croquet at the Sands Point’s Lands End mansion with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, exchanged witty jokes with satirist Dorothy Parker, and partied with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

The Marx Brothers continued their winning streak much like the sound-enhanced silent imagery that “talkies” did in the early 1930s. Plots revolved around the brothers barging loudly into a fancy party, or a cruise ship, or a room filled with stuffy dignitaries, where they would disrupt everything with annoying slurs and physical antics.

Life was fun most of the time.

Groucho Marx

“I refuse to join a club that would have me as a member.”

The New York Times described Great Neck in the 1930s as “one of the few communities on the Gold Coast to welcome or even allow Jews at the time, mixed as they were with the theatrical and literary crowd that flocked” there- low.

Groucho and his son tried to join the Sands Point Bath and Sun Club on Manhasset Bay, across from Kings Point. He recalled, “The chef from the place came over and said, ‘Well, we’re so sorry, Mr. Marx, but we don’t allow Jews to swim on our beach.’ We couldn’t join because I was Jewish. So I said, ‘My son is only half Jewish. Would it be okay if he went knee deep in the water? ” ‘

Later that day, Marx joined the more expensive Lakeville Country Club at Lake Success, “with all the other Jews in showbiz.”

Interviewer asked Groucho about the 1933 Marx brothers film Duck soupattacks anti-Semitic philosophies, which are gaining ground in Europe. Groucho’s response? “What are you talking about? There were five of us Jews trying to laugh.

“I had a perfectly wonderful evening. But it wasn’t that.

The Marx brothers made Time magazinethe 1932 cover; in 2004, the magazine called them “the fathers of all aggressive movie comics, from Stooges to Sandler”. They shoot 13 films, then in 1947, Groucho changes course. In his radio quiz show You bet your life, questions and answers mattered less than his jokes. He won two Hollywood Walk of Fame stars, one for radio and one for television shows from 1950 to 1956.

In 1974 he received an Honorary Oscar for the brilliant creativity and unparalleled achievement of the Marx Brothers in the art of cinematic comedy. He died in Los Angeles in 1977 at the age of 86.

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