Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
present our 2001 Halloween Costume as
(Yes, there were 5 Marx Brothers folks!)

Cast of Characters

Groucho (real name  Julius Henry) is Brownielocks
Chico
(real name Leonard) is MaMa Bear- Brenda
Zeppo
(real name Herbert) is PaPa Bear - Barney
Harpo
(real name Adolph or Arthrur) is Baby Bear - Billy
and
Gummo
(real name Milton) is a hand puppet!


Marx Brothers Trivia Information

There is an enormous amount of information on the Marx Brothers, both on the net and in many books. Some books have been published by each individual brother, and some by their children.  Because they also had a 70-year career in the entertainment field (vaudeville, Broadway and then Hollywood) the amount of data on everything is overwhelming.

After spending 3 days visiting numerous sites, I've decided to give you a Reader's Digest version of what information I read.  For further knowledge, you'll have to get on the search engines and discover all the sites yourself. 

I'd like to say that I am not plagiarizing, but telling the information in my own format. I also will add, I can't verify all the facts I read are true as only 3 sites listed their sources and all the rest did not.

Here is just a brief overview of 5 brothers and their life.
I am not giving information regarding their movies, radio, etc.
I'll leave that up to the other sites.
Nor do I go into details about stuff with anecdotes, quotes, etc.That can be found on other sites as well. I'm providing just the facts that were basically on several sites.

About Their Parents

On November 9, 1864, in Dornum, Germany Miene Schonberg was born.  At the age of 16 she immigrated to the US with her parents.

Simon Marx (immigrated 3 years earlier from Alsace, France where he was born) was a dancing instructor when they met.  He later became a tailor, but not a good one because he just did not want to use a measuring tape. Needless to say, he had a lot of unhappy customers. 

Originally, the family name was Marrix, but when in the US they changed it to Marx because of the German-sounding strength of it (helping him get employment).  

Now, after living in the US, Miene decided to change her name to be more American so she was called Minnie. And, Simon decided to do the same and he became known as Sam.

At 18, Minnie met Sam at a dancehall.  They dated a few years and when Sam was 23 and Minnies was 20 they married, and moved in with her parents and other relatives. 

Sam and Minnie actually had 6 children...all boys. Unfortunately, the first born boy in 1885 named Manfred, died before reaching the age of 3 yrs. old.  There's several theories on how this child died so I am not going to say anymore.

The other remaining sons are what we know today as the "Marx Brothers."

They are born in the following chronological order:

First = Leonard (Chico) on March 21, 1887
Second = Adolph (Harpo) on November 23, 1888
Third = Julius Henry (Groucho) on Ocober 2, 1890
Fourth = Milton (Gummo) on October 23, 1892
Fifth = Herbert (Zeppo) on Febrary 25, 1901

Minnie's brother was born Abraham Eliesen who later changed his name and became known as the comedian Al Sheen.  Because Minnie was a big force in getting her brother into show biz, she decided that that was the route to go for her sons. (Remember, her parents were from vaudeville.)

From an early age, it was Gummo who was first on the stage with his Uncle Julius in his ventriloquism act.
Chico would play the piano in bars and Groucho would sing as a male soprano.

Minnie, their mom was also their manager for many years until she no longer could do it. Then Chico took over as the manager (being the oldest).

From 1920 to 1949 they made 13 Films besides their previous work on the Vaudeville and Broadway states.
And they also had radio and Groucho also hosted the game show "You Bet Your Life" bringing him a TV following for a few years also.  This is probably why when you are asked to name the Marx Brothers, well it's Groucho's name that most of the time comes first, followed by Harpo and then Chico and then Zeppo.  Gummo is the brother who has been for the most part incognito.

 

Here is a brief summation about each brother. 
Since there is so much one could share, I'll just give you some of the basic facts and leave out all the details of the movies, etc.

As far as "How Did The Marx Brothers Get Their Names?
all I could find out from an "Interview With Groucho" is what he said. And it appears a good vaudeville friend named Art Fischer came up with them during a card game. Their mother never game them their stage names.

First of all, they all have their nicknames ending in an "O". Why? One view is that it's based on "Knocko The Monk" comic strip. Another feeling is that back when they were growing up, it was cool and hip to have an "O" at the end of your name.  Remember Dobie Gillis? Remember Maynard G. Krebs the beatnik?  Everything was "Daddy-O" and stuff back then.


Chico
(Leonard)

Born: 3/22/1887 in New York City

Died: 10/11/1961 in Hollywood, CA of Heart Disease

How he got his name?

 Chico loved to chase the girls and so that's why he was given the name. Back in those days, women were referred to as "chickens."  So, the real pronunciation is "Chick-O" and not as "Cheek-O" as many say it.

Chico loved a good time, always had a smile on his face and loved to charm the ladies. Perhaps this might be why he was him mom's favorite?  He loved a good game of pinochle and well, he ended up having a gambling problem where his brothers were always bailing him out of his financial responsibilities.  He is the one who worked the longest, not necessarily because he loved it, but because he had to due to all his gambling debts.  He was the brother who is said to have the most guts and kept his brother's spirit's up during the down times of their career. He had the insight to see that the musical tabloid show were becoming hot and to get the group into that style of entertainment.  Chico played in every vaudeville act and film.  He assisted Groucho's radio show as well. His best comedy style was off-beat Italian accents.

1917

1918

1940

1943

1958

He married Betty Carp on March 22 He had a daughter, Maxine in January Betty and Chico got divorced. Chico formed his own band. Remarried to Mary De Vithas and stayed married till his death.

Harpo
(Adolph or Arthur)

Born: 11/23/1888 in New York City

Died: 9/28/1964 in Hollywood, CA of Heart Disease

How he got his name?

 He loved to play the harp. 

Harpo was born Adolph. But during WWI due to the negative cloud that surrounded that name because of Germany, he changed it to Arthur.

Harpo is probably the 2nd most popular Marx Brother, next to Groucho. The reason is because of his unique look that stood out from his other brothers, he played the harp (not many did) and he never said a word, making him very funny.

But, the truth is Harpo wasn't really mute at all.  On Broadway he did speak.
But he had a problem remembering lines and he had a bad habit of just making up stuff and being spontaneous.  It was hard for the others to follow and well, the critiques just slammed him.  Thus he decided to just shut up@  And he discovered he got more laughs and more attention that way.

He wore the blonde wig because it made him stand out against his other dark-haired brothers and because it photographed well in black and white.

His harp knowledge ( I assume) was taught to him by his grandmother who was also a harpist.  All the harps he played he owned. And he never played the same harp twice in any movie. His two very favorite harps were actually gold-leafed Lyon & Healy Grands Model #24.  After his death, they were donated to an orchestra in Israel to be used, not stuck in a glass case and just looked at.   So that is what was done. Plaques were put on the harps stating they were Harpo Marx's , but they are being played.

1934

1936

1938

He toured Russia He married Susan Fleming They adopted a son Billy. (Later Alex, Jimmy and Minnie)

1955

1961

1964

He appears on the 
Lucille Ball Show
He publishes his autobiography, "Harpo Speaks." He dies after having open heart surgery.

Groucho
(Julius Henry)

Born: 10/10/1890
 in New York City

Died: 8/19/1977 in California

How he got his name?

 He said he didn't remember. My guess
is if all the brothers got their names while playing cards, perhaps he was a
bit grouchy when not winning? It's my
own guess. Someone wrote and me and said that his name was derived from a "grouch sack" that her wore around his neck during the Depression.  A grouch sack contained all a person's valuables.

 Groucho has been the most famous, and the most prolific and active of all the brothers, even though he is the 3rd in the group as far as age.  He's written a few books, had his own radio show, was the host of a game show for a while as well as starred with his brothers right from the start in vaudeville, Broadway and film.  He's done guest appearances and done interviews the most as well.  Since some WebPages are devoted just to him, I  recommend you visit those rather than me restating a lot of information.  Groucho was most famous for his snappy wit of one-liners, and of course the glasses, cigar and the moustache.

Personally, he is the one who married and divorced the most.

1920

1921

1927

1942

Marries Ruth Johnstone 2/4 His son Arthur,  is born in July Miriam, his daughter born in May. Ruth and Groucho Divorce

1945

1946

1950

1954

Remarries to
Kay Gorcey
Daughter born to him and Kay named Melinda. Groucho and Kay get divorced. Groucho remarries to Eden Hartford.

Gummo
(Milton)

Born: 10/23/1892 in New York City

Died: 4/21/1977 in California

How he got his name?

 It is based on "gumshoe" and that he had these rubber soles on his shoes that made noises when he walked. Another version is that he liked to sneak around like a private eye, or "gumshoe" as they are also called.

 Gummo is probably the silent or unknown brother of the group? Not many of us have ever heard of him outside of the Marx Brothers real devoted fan followers.
I admit, I didn't until I did this research.

With all due respect to his surviving family, putting him as a hand puppet was not meant as demeaning.  We just did not know about him until later on. But Gummo wasn't into the show business activity as much as the other brothers. And, he was actually the first brother ever to step up on a stage before the rest of them.

How? Gummo would appear with his Uncle Julius in his ventriloquism act. Thus, this is why to honor this we made him a puppet.  He performed on Broadway with his brothers for a while, but stopped to join the Army before they became big stars on stage and in Hollywood.  It was then that Zeppo replaced his brother as part of the group. 

Upon returning from the war, Gummo chose to go into ladies apparel and fabrics as a business. But after a while the lure of entertainment called him and he returned to the business with his brothers as their manager and as a partner in a talent agency.

 

1929
He married Helen Von Tilzer and adopted her daughter Kay.

There is no more information on him.
We assume he remained happily married until his death. Well, we hope so.


Zeppo
(Herbert)

Born: 2/25/1901 in New York City

Died: 11/30/1979 in California of
 Lung Disease

How he got his name?  There are several stories. The first one is that he was named after the Zeppelin that arrived in Lake Hurst, NJ. My assumption is because he had a reputation of being a hooligan and fighting a lot, well the Zeppo meant explosive temper?  Another theory is that they had a farm in Illinois and "Zeb" is a farmhand nickname and it's a variation of that? Another is that during their time, (in Chicago) Zeke and Zeb jokes were popular. Another, that he could do chin-ups like a "Zippo, The Chimpanze." 

Zeppo was the youngest, fought a lot and he won a lot in those fights. And yet, he was the straight man in the group taking over Gummo's roles when he joined the Army.  But Zeppo always seemed to be in the shadow of older brothers. Yet, they considered him the most funny of the group.

Off-stage he was a whiz with mechanics and kept the car they all owned running. He also held many patents.

Besides being a performer, he helped maintain parts as doing his fair share during the war effort; he grew grapefruits; he did commercial fishing; and he became a partner in Gummo's talent agency business.

Since he was the last to survive, he got stuck in the middle of Groucho's estate battles in court.

1927

1944

1954

Zeppo marries Marion Brenda  on April 12.

 

 

 

Zeppo and Marion adopted a son Timothy. They later adopt another son Thomas.

 

 Marion and Zeppo get divorced on May 12.

 

 

1959

1973

1979

On September 18, Zeppo remarries to Barbara Blakely. Zeppo and Barbara get divorced. (Note: Barbara goes on to marry Frank Sinatra.) Zeppo dies of lung cancer.

 

Our Midi is "Duck Soup"
Here is a genuine recipe for Duck Soup


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See us in previous year's costume,  plus Halloween's History and other fun stuff.

 

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