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The Marx Brothers are the gold standard of movie comedy. Classic movies like A day at the races and Duck soup full of jokes and slapstick. There was no one like Groucho and co, especially since the team was inimitable.

Here are some revealing facts about the men named Marx. We’re going to start with a strange story about a mule!

Mule never believe it

Marx Brothers when they played vaudeville under the name of the Three Nightingales. From left to right, Gummo; Julius Schickler, their uncle who served as manager; and Harpo. Standing is Groucho. (Photo credit: Bettmann / Contributor)”/>

Marx Brothers when they played vaudeville under the name of the Three Nightingales. From left to right, Gummo; Julius Schickler, their uncle who served as manager; and Harpo. Standing is Groucho. (Photo credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

The Marx Brothers might never have existed without a rogue mule. In 1907, they were performing in an opera house in the town of Nacogdoches, Texas.

Julius, Milton, and Adolph (or Arthur) were not yet known as Groucho, Gummo, and Harpo. They performed on stage in a quartet with Lon Levy, a friend. And, surprisingly for these future stars, the reception was not enthusiastic.

Yet when a mule reportedly went mad in the street, the place cleared faster than bees from a burning beehive. When the crowd returned, the boys started making fun of them as they fled the scene. The excited public lapped the insults and from there was born the overwhelming experience of the Brothers that we know today.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle, reporting the mule incident, referred to manager / mother Minnie Marx. She would try to pass off her offspring as a 13-year-old girl to save on travel money, according to Groucho. In fact, they were 20 years old.

One driver mentioned that his “children” were busy smoking and shaving: “Minnie shook her head sadly. “They grow up so fast. “

Where do these names come from?

Harpo, Groucho and Chico Marx watch under a tent in a scene from

Harpo, Groucho and Chico Marx watch under a tent in a scene from “Marx Brothers at the Circus”. Film not dated yet. (Photo credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

The legendary grips arrived via a game of poker. Comedian Art Fisher has started handing out nicknames. For example, “Groucho” comes from Julius’ dry mind and habit of carrying a “grouch bag” (or hidden pocket), as Mental Floss writes.

“Harpo” was born from Arthur’s skills on the harp. Milton’s detective thing led to “Gummo”. Leonard’s womanizer got him nicknamed “Chicko” (sic). Herbert has become “Zeppo”, but this one is a mystery. All the “o’s” come from the comic strip Sherlocko the monk.

Groucho painted on his famous mustache

circa 1935: American actor <a class=Groucho Marx, with his mustache and designer glasses. (Photo credit: John Kobal Foundation / Getty Images)”/>

circa 1935: American actor Groucho Marx, with his mustache and designer glasses. (Photo credit: John Kobal Foundation / Getty Images)

Groucho wouldn’t be the same without his mustache. Interestingly, facial hair was a sticky job. And it wasn’t a mustache either!

Well, that was a real fake mustache to begin with. Then one night Groucho realized he could just apply an alternative to grease paint.

Later in his career, he sported the genuine article. For a long time, however, the master of cheerfulness turned his face into a living work of art.

Zeppo the inventor

Groucho Marx treats his brother Zeppo (who plays his son) after a football match in a scene from

Groucho Marx treats his brother Zeppo (who plays his son) after a football game in a scene from Paramount Picture’s “Horse Feathers” in 1932 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

The Marx Brothers were undoubtedly industrious. Herbert, aka Zeppo, received three patents for things he invented or co-invented. As a Marx Brothers fan website pointed out, the Vapor Delivery Pad (1952) and smart stuff that “belonged to heart pulse monitoring” (1969) is recorded on him.

In 1941, he founded the Marman Products Company. Their Marman Tongs traveled aboard the Enola Gay, making sure those pesky atomic bombs didn’t slip into the place!

The first Marx Brothers film was never finished

X Marx the spot.  Hollywood, California: The four Marx brothers of cinematic fame are surprised as they leave their fingerprints for posterity or something like that at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California.  From left to right, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo and Chico Marx.  (Photo credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

X Marx the spot. Hollywood, California: The four Marx brothers of cinematic fame are surprised as they leave their fingerprints for posterity or something like that at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. From left to right, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo and Chico Marx. (Photo credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

More often than not, the first film by a famous team of actors is the best. But it’s hard to say in the case of the Marx Brothers.

Humor Risk (1921) was filmed but apparently the first images did not go well. Or it was unfinished for some reason. The exact truth is not known. You expect unreliable narrators for a Marx Brothers article, don’t you?

“By Marx Brothers standards, this would have been an unusual movie,” notes Mental Floss, “with Harpo playing a heroic detective against a mean Groucho character. “

They almost worked with Billy Wilder

Director Billy Wilder smiles as he sits in front of a camera on the set of one of his films.  (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Director Billy Wilder smiles as he sits in front of a camera on the set of one of his films. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Groucho Marx delivering lines written by Some like it hot Maestro Billy Wilder? It could have happened. Unfortunately, important keys were thrown in the works.

Ranker writes that “Wilder developed a scenario about a group of thieves attempting to carry out a heist during a demonstration at the UN.” Title A day at the United Nations, the 1960 project stumbled in the wake of Chico’s sad death, coupled with Harpo’s ill health.

Groucho in Batman? Type of…

American actor Burgess Meredith as Penguin, American actor Cesar Romero as Joker, American actor Burt Ward (Bert Gervis Jr.) as Robin, American actor Adam West (William West Anderson) as Batman and American actress Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the television series Batman.  1966 (Photo credit: Mondadori Wallet via Getty Images)

American actor Burgess Meredith as Penguin, American actor Cesar Romero as Joker, American actor Burt Ward (Bert Gervis Jr.) as Robin, American actor Adam West (William West Anderson) as Batman and American actress Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the television series Batman. 1966 (Photo credit: Mondadori Wallet via Getty Images)

Ski Doo (1968) is an obscure cinematic comedy directed by none other than Otto Preminger. Groucho played the role of God himself in the LSD-themed script.

You could be forgiven for thinking that was the set of Batman, with Adam West. Marx was joined by Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), Cesar Romero (The Joker) and Frank Gorshin (The Riddler). Preminger also made a unique appearance as Mr. Freeze, improving the Bat-mosphere.

A loose remake of a Marx Brothers classic was made starring John Turturro

Brain donors (1992) with John Turturro, Mel Smith and Bob Nelson. Written by Pat Proft (The naked gun), it’s a cult comedy that came and went, putting things politely.

If you think Turturro et al have a Marx Brothers touch to them, then you’d be right. While not exactly a remake, the storyline is said to be based on A night at the opera (1935) and A day at the races (1937).

“War” with Freedonia

The Marx Brothers (left to right): Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Groucho Marx greet each other on the set of their classic 1933 film Duck Soup.  They respectively play Pinky, Lieutenant Bob Roland, Chicolini and Rufus T. Firely in the film.  (Photo credit: John Springer / CORBIS / Corbis Collection via Getty Images)

The Marx Brothers (left to right): Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Groucho Marx greet each other on the set of their classic 1933 film Duck Soup. They respectively play Pinky, Lieutenant Bob Roland, Chicolini and Rufus T. Firely in the film. (Photo credit: John Springer / CORBIS / Corbis Collection via Getty Images)

Duck soup (1933) is an all-time classic of the Marx Brothers. Groucho played Rufus T. Firefly, ruler of Freedonia. A crazy name for a crazy, made-up place.

There was just one problem… a real New York city was called Freedonia. The upper brass were not impressed. Groucho replied: “Our advice is that you change the name of your city”.

More from us: A look at the secret to Laurel and Hardy’s success

The hi-jinks continued six decades later. Mental Floss refers to the prank played in the House of Representatives by Spy review. They made faces on the floor making them comment on the alleged ethnic cleansing in Freedonia!

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