Marx Brothers
   The comedy team the Marx brothers, born to German Jewish immigrants in New York City, consisted of Chico (Leonard, 1887-1961), Harpo (Adolph/Arthur, 1888-1964), Groucho (Julius Henry, 1890-1977), Gummo (Milton, 1892-1977), and Zeppo (Herbert, 1901-1979). They began appearing in vaudeville from 1905 onward, originally as the musical act “The Three (or Four) Nightingales,” but in 1912 they switched to comedy with a peculiar brand of slapstick and verbal humor. During World War I, they became “The Four Marx Brothers,” and by the mid-1920s had established themselves as one of the country’s funniest routines. Their Broadway shows, Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, were made into films by Paramount Studios in 1929 and 1930. The shows followed by Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), and Duck Soup (1933), when they left Paramount and made A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937) with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). By this time, Gummo and Zeppo left to take up management. After Room Service, made for RKO in 1938, the Marx Brothers returned to MGM to make At the Circus (1939) and The Big Store (1941). They retired briefly but returned to show business to make A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1949) with United Artists. Afterward, the brothers went their separate ways and entered radio and theatrical management. Groucho had a very successful career hosting a quiz show on radio, You Bet Your Life, and then on television from 1947 to 1961. Several of the Marx Brothers’ films are now regarded as classics of zany humor, rich with puns and ad-libs drawing upon the American immigrant background.
   See also Cinema.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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