Tag Archives: Horse Feathers

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.