Today is the 132nd birthday of the comedian Harpo Marx. Choosing a favorite Marx Brother is a lot like choosing a favorite Hitchcock Blonde: each one brings something different and valuable to the overall experience. I was particularly intrigued by his silence as a kid, I found it interesting that he did not have to speak to communicate. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he 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
REMAINS: Cremated, Sand trap, Rancho Mirage Golf Course
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.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Story of Mankind (8-Nov-1957) · Isaac Newton
Love Happy (12-Oct-1949) · Harpo
A Night in Casablanca (10-May-1946) · Rusty
Stage Door Canteen (24-Jun-1943) · Himself
The Big Store (20-Jun-1941)
Go West (6-Dec-1940) · Rusty Panello
At the Circus (20-Oct-1939) · Punchy
Room Service (30-Sep-1938) · Faker
A Day at the Races (11-Jun-1937) · Stuffy
A Night at the Opera (15-Nov-1935) · Tomasso
Duck Soup (17-Nov-1933) · Pinky
Horse Feathers (10-Aug-1932) · Pinky
Monkey Business (19-Sep-1931) · Harpo
Animal Crackers (28-Aug-1930) · The Professor
The Cocoanuts (3-May-1929)