Tag Archives: Harpo Marx

The Little Girl Harpo Marx Was “Crazy About”

Harpo Marx Loved A Little Visitor To The Set So Much, He Seriously Wanted To Buy Her

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming  of Duck Soup 1933

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming of Duck Soup 1933

Maybe today this would be considered kind of creepy, but anyone who knew Harpo Marx would have said it was not, because it was “so Harpo-like.”

The story sounds apocryphal, but according to Groucho Marx as told to Richard Anobile in The Marx Brothers Scrapbook it is true.

In the midst of the Great Depression during the production of the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers in 1932, Harpo Marx would see this adorable girl who was about four-years-old along with her parents watching the Marx’s work on the set. During breaks in the filming, Harpo starting talking to the child and her parents. Groucho says, “Harpo was crazy about this girl.” He became so enchanted with this little girl, that he offered to adopt her and give her parents $50,000 as compensation.  They of course refused.

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

This all happened before the little girl was in a single film and would go on to become the biggest child movie star of all-time – Shirley Temple.

The photograph at the top of this article was taken a year after Harpo’s offer. By that time, Shirley Temple had still not made a feature film, but appeared in many ten minute shorts. Shirley was just beginning to become known to the public when she revisited Harpo while in the studio commissary.

Shirley Temple died in Woodside, CA, Monday February 10, 2014 of natural causes. She retired from motion pictures at the age of 21 in 1949. Shirley was happily married for 55 years to Charles Black. She became a United States ambassador and by all accounts had a very happy and fulfilling life.

Because Harpo’s wife Susan Fleming was unable to have children, Harpo did eventually adopt four children who all say he was the most wonderful father in the world.

Before They Were Famous…

The 4 Nightingales – “Big Hit Everywhere”

4 Nightingales

This rare trade card from 1908 – 1909 advertises a vaudeville group known as “The Four Nightingales.” Two of them went on to worldwide fame. Can you guess who they are?

Scroll down for the answer.

A huge clue is “Minnie Marx Manager”

It is The Marx Brothers. From left to right: Milton “Gummo” Marx, Harpo Marx, Groucho Marx and Lou Levy.

Gummo Marx never appeared in any Marx Brothers film. He retired from the act after World War I to be replaced by brother Herbert “Zeppo” Marx. Gummo later did manage the brothers and was an agent for many Hollywood stars.

Little is known about the act of The Four Nightingales. They began as a singing act and bits of comedy eventually were worked in. Gummo said, “we would sing what were the popular songs of the day – until we sang them”.

Part 1 Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #1 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20’s & 30’s

From the 1920’s until the 1940’s, book publishers put out some phenomenal books about New York. They also hired talented artists to design the book’s dust jackets.

The eye-catching art deco graphics were meant to attract potential buyers. Unfortunately, most people who purchased books 80 years ago would discard the dust jacket once they brought the book home with them.

Because of that, many of these books from that time are very scarce in their original dust jacket.

This is the first part of a five part series looking at the dust jackets of books about New York City, the artists that created the work and the authors.

Below are some fine examples of New York City books from the golden era of publishing.

(click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj New York By QuexNew York by Quex.  New York: David McKay, 1928, dj illustrator, Dixon (possibly Arthur A. Dixon)

Quex was the pseudonym of reporter George H.F. Nichols (1881-1933) of The Evening News of London. Nichols was at the time of his death one of the highest paid reporters in the world. Nichols was the originator of articles written in the form of “the diary of the man about town.” Quex’s observations about about New York are well worth reading.

The dust jacket is classic New York, but I am unsure about the attribution to Arthur Dixon, so we will leave biographical information out until someone can provide a conclusive identification on the artist.

Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #6

Harpo with his Children, 1954

Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers married the beautiful actress Susan Fleming in 1936. She promptly retired from acting and from all accounts they had a terrific marriage until Harpo’s death in 1964.

Unable to have children, Harpo and Susan adopted four children, three of whom are seen here. From left to right Alex, Jimmy & Minnie.

Upon reflection, years later in interviews, the children concurred Continue reading

I Just Paid $13,530 For Some Rags

OR…Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Memorobilia Auction

Well, I didn’t pay that kind of money. But somebody did.

When movie star Debbie Reynolds abandoned her long-time dream of having a museum to showcase the history of Hollywood, the treasures which she had been accumulating for decades, went to the auction block. A good portion of the nearly 600 lots sold for significantly more than their high estimate.

Charlton Heston’s robe from Planet of the Apes (1968) went for $13,530 (all prices include buyers premium). Yes it is the costume Heston’s character Taylor wears during much of the film, but it really is a rag isn’t it? There were fantastic costumes that were available and I suppose if you wanted to own movie history and you had a budget to adhere to, this raggy robe was as good as anything. I’d like to see the new owner actually wear it. In public. Continue reading

Groucho Marx’s Son Dies at 89

Arthur Marx, Son of Groucho Passes Away – April 14, 2011

Arthur Marx’s passing is being announced quite expectedly as “Groucho Marx’s son dies.”

Arthur was very talented in his own right and did carve out a successful career for himself as a champion tennis player and author.

Arthur was the author of a dozen books and wrote about his famous father in four books, most recently the picture collection Arthur Marx’s Groucho: A Photographic Journey 2001 (Phoenix Marketing Service). Arthur first wrote about his father in Life With Groucho A Son’s Eye View 1954 (Simon and Schuster) and the much more candid autobiographical Son of Groucho 1972 (David McKay). The last book is especially revealing in discussing the difficulty Arthur encountered in finding his own career path and being the son of one of the most famous entertainers in the world. By Arthur’s account Groucho had a difficult time showing affection and drove all three of his wives away through one form of mental cruelty or another.

Arthur told one story where the only time he had ever seen his father cry was at the funeral of Groucho’s brother Harpo.  Arthur was named after Harpo (whose real name was Adolph, and then Americanized to Arthur during World War I.)   All of the Marx Brothers named their daughters after their mother Minnie; each of their names begins with the letter “M”.

Arthur’s career as a writer for television, movies and the stage was quite varied but mostly within the comedy field.  He had written for such shows as Alice, My Three Son’s and McHale’s Navy.  He was much more than the “son of Groucho.”