Groucho Marx: Julius Marx, better
known to us as "Groucho
Marx", originally wanted to be a dentist. Not exactly making the
cut into his wanted profession, he took up entertaining.
Zeppo Marx: There were five Marx
brothers, although only four would make it into films. Most
people only think of there being three Marx brothers. Of course
we all know Groucho, Harpo, and Chico. Do you remember
Zeppo? Have you ever heard of Gummo?
In their early vaudeville
days there were four Marx brothers: Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and
Gummo. Gummo (who real name was Milton Marx) left the act just as
they were beginning to get popular in vaudeville because he didn't feel
he had the performing talent of his brothers. The youngest of the
five Marx brothers, Zeppo, replaced him in the act. Zeppo was
typically the straightman, but actually had a lot more talent than most
people credit him for. Sometimes in the vaudeville acts, Zeppo
would play Groucho's parts. People who have seen that have said
that Zeppo could play Groucho better than Groucho himself!
My favorite Marx Brothers
movies are the ones with Zeppo. He was a good straight man and a
breath of relief from the craziness of the other three brothers.
After he left, there was no straight man and the Brothers often went
too over the top. Zeppo brought things back to some kind of
reality, while the other brothers were perennial mischief-makers.
Plus he was good-looking enough to be thought of as the "cool" Marx
brother. Zeppo was also the ladies' man and because of him you
got to see a lot more of the sexy love interests. The other Marx
brothers definitely were not "smooth" or handsome in their movies.
Zeppo had small parts in
the first five Marx Brothers movies which at the time were not big
hits. It wouldn't be until the act was a trio that they would
have real commercial success. Zeppo left in 1933 because he just
didn't feel his talent was being fully utilized. Although he
played his parts well, no one can say that Zeppo was really as wacky or
"out there" as the other Marx brothers. Zeppo managed the
brothers along with other brother Gummo before they ran a talent
management company of their own.
Allegedly, Zeppo was the
funniest of the five brothers off camera despite the fact that he
always played the romantic lead man in their films. He was also a
mechanical whiz. His company Marman Products produced clamping
devices which were used in the first atomic bomb raids over Japan in
1945. From about 1948-1949 this same company developed a
2-cylinder motorized bicycle called "The Marman Twin".
Unfortunately the bikes were unable to compete the more established
Whizzers even though they were far more powerful. These bikes are
highly collectible today.
In 1969, Zeppo invented a
wristwatch that would monitor the pulse rate of cardiac patients.
If the wearer went into cardiac arrest an alarm would sound. How
cool is that?! He had a great many careers during his life
including being a commercial fisherman and growing grapefruits.
Now for some more fascinating Zeppo facts:
Birth Name: Herbert Marx
Birth Date: February 25, 1901 in New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death: November 30, 1979 in Palm Springs, California, USA (cancer)
Spouse #1: Marion Benda (April 12, 1927-May 12, 1954) (divorced) 1 child
Spouse #2: Barbara Marx (September 18, 1959-1973) (divorced)
How He Received His Nickname: Herbert missed out when his brothers received their nicknames, so when he came into the act they gave him one. He was always practicing acrobatics, so they called him "Zippo" after a famous chimpanzee circus star called "Mr. Zippo". Herbert didn't think this was flattering so he changed it to Zeppo.
After He Died:
His ashes were scattered at sea.
Brothers Filmography: The Cocoanuts (1929); Animal
Crackers (1930); Monkey Business (1931); Horse Feathers (1932); Duck