Today is the 126th birthday of Harpo Marx. We have all seen the brilliant mirror scene that he did with Lucile Ball when I Love Lucy went to Hollywood. To think that it was almost 20 years after Animal Crackers and he was still at the top of his game. The world is a better place because Harpo was in it and still feels the loss that Harpo has left.
NAME: Harpo Marx
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Comedian
BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1888
DEATH DATE: September 28, 1964
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Originally: Adolph Arthur Marx
Best Known For: Harpo Marx was a talented comedian and mime best known for his performances as part of the Marx Brothers comedy act.
Comedian and actor Marx Harpo was born Adolph Arthur Marx on November 23, 1888, in New York City. The second oldest of five boys born to Samuel “Frenchie” Marx and Minnie Schoenberg Marx, Harpo was the only Jewish boy in his public school class and, after being bullied one too many times, dropped out at age 8.
Harpo and his brothers, Leonard (Chico), Julius (Groucho), Milton (Gummo) and Herbert (Zeppo), performed countless odd jobs while growing up to help support the family. Minnie, however, was bound and determined for her boys to become stars of the stage. In 1910, the Marx Brothers singing troupe was formed, which was originally dubbed the Four Nightingales. Minnie even leased a harp for the occasion for her second eldest, and hence his stage name was born.
In 1912, the Marx Brothers’ singing act devolved to madcap comedy, and the new show became the hallmark of their fame. Because Harpo couldn’t compete with the comedic wits of his brothers, his lines were taken away from him. Though insulted at first, he soon became a gifted mime, particularly in his use of facial expressions and a honking horn. He never spoke professionally again.
The Marx Brothers comedy act was wildly successful, and they eventually made their way to Broadway and in films, including Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers and Room Service. Harpo also traveled the world entertaining troops during World War II and made numerous television appearances.
Harpo married actress Susan Fleming in 1936. The couple adopted four children to whom Harpo was a devoted and loving father. He published his autobiography, Harpo Speaks, in 1961 and died three years later following complications from open-heart surgery.