Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Harpo Marx

On this day in 1888, Adolph Marx was born. Later, he was known as Arthur Marx, and he was popularly known as Harpo Marx.

Harpo was one of the Marx Brothers, a group of Vaudeville and Broadway theatre entertainers who later achieved fame as comedians in the Motion Picture industry. He was well known by his trademarks: he played the harp; he never talked during performances, although he often blew a horn or whistled to communicate with people; and he frequently used props - one of his most commonly used props in films was a walking stick with a built-in bulb horn. source: wikipedia

Why didn't Harpo speak?
According to :
During the Marx Brothers' early days in vaudeville, their Uncle Al Shean (of Gallagher and Shean fame) wrote some new material for the brothers, the show "Home Again". Harpo was rather upset that Uncle Al neglected to write any speaking parts for him. When Harpo questioned his uncle, he told Harpo that he thought it would add wonderful contrast to the act if he played it in pantomime. Harpo hated the idea and told him that he was going to ad lib all the parts he wanted to, and Uncle Al said "Ok, ok, go right ahead."

But then when they played in Champaign, Illinois, Harpo received some unfavorable reviews about his speaking parts, but very favorable reviews about his pantomime.
Here is what the review said:

"The Marx Brother who plays 'Patsy Brannigan' is made up and costumed to a fare-thee-well and he takes off on an Irish immigrant most amusingly in pantomime. Unfortunately the effect is spoiled when he speaks."
So from that point on, Harpo never uttered another word, onstage or in front of a camera.

Marx Brothers Collection - 7 Classic Marx Brothers movies.

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