Groucho Marx

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Caricature of Groucho Marx

Julius Henry Marx (2 October 189019 August 1977), primarily known as Groucho Marx, was an American comedian and actor, famous for his work in the Marx Brothers comedy team, and his solo film and television career.

Sourced

  • When I invite a woman to dinner I expect her to look at my face. That's the price she has to pay!
  • If I held you any closer I'd be in back of you.
    • A Day At The Races (1937); written by Robert Pirosh, George Seaton and George Oppenheimer
  • A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.
    • A Day At The Races (1937); earlier Rudyard Kipling, in 1895, had written: "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke".
  • Mr. Grover [Doing an informal job interview]: What experience have you had at a department store?
    Wolf J. Flywheel (Groucho): I was a shoplifter for three years.
  • A likely story — and probably true.
    • The Al Jolson Show repartee following a trite, scripted Al Jolson joke. (1949)
  • Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.
    • From his autobiography Groucho and Me (1959)
  • I sent the club a wire stating, "PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER".
  • [Variant:] "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".
    • As quoted in The Groucho Letters (1967) by Arthur Sheekman. The sentiment predates Groucho, however; it likely originated with John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga, chapter II: Old Jolyon is said to despise the club that took him as a member after another refused him because he was in trade.
  • No-one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.
    • From his book Groucho and Me
  • Here's to our wives and girlfriends... may they never meet!
  • From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.
    • To S J Perelman about his book Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge (1929), as quoted in LIFE (9 February 1962)
  • I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
    • As quoted in People I have Loved, Known or Admired (1970) by Leo Rosten
    • [Unsourced variant:] I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception.
  • I got $25 from Reader's Digest last week for something I never said. I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: "I smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally"? I never said that.
  • I did a bond tour during the Second World War... We were raising money, and we played Boston and Philadelphia and most of the big cities. And we got to Minneapolis. There wasn't any big theater to play there, so we did our show in a railroad station. Then I told the audience, that I knew a girl in Minneapolis. She was also known in St.Paul, she used to come over to visit me. She was known as "The Tail Of Two Cities." I didn't sell any more bonds, but eh... they didn't allow me to appear anymore.
    • Recounting a War Bonds tour in his Carnegie Hall appearance (6 May 1972)
  • My experience is that people are most likely to listen to reason when in bed.
    • Liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972) the recording of his appearance at Carnegie Hall.
  • I don't have a photograph. I'd give you my footprints, but they're upstairs in my socks.
    • When asked for a photograph for identification
    • The Groucho Phile (1976)
  • I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
    • As quoted in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion (1984) by Leslie Halliwell
    • Unsourced variant: I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
  • To write an autobiography of Groucho Marx would be as asinine as to read an autobiography of Groucho Marx.
    • Just after completing his second autobiography, as quoted in The Marx Brothers: A Bio-bibliography (1987) by Wes D. Gehring, p. 137
  • Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication.
    • As quoted in What Color is Your Paradigm: Thinking for Shaping Life and Results (2003) by Howard Edson, p. 184
  • Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!
    • Last words
    • Lord Palmerston's had similar last words in 1865: "Die, my dear doctor! That's the last thing I shall do!"

The Cocoanuts (1929)

Written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind
  • We'll put free sheets on all the beds, there'll be no cover charge.
  • No, my friends. No, money will never make you happy, and happy will never make you money. That might be a wisecrack, but I doubt it.
  • Hello, Cocoanut Arms. Yes, we have a dining room. If it's fish, we have it. If it's meat, we have it. If it's fowl, we've had it too long.
  • Ice water? Where'd you get it? Oh, you want some? Well that's different. Eat an onion, that'll make your eyes water!
  • Be free my friends. One for all and all for me, and me for you, and three for five, and six for a quarter.
  • Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.
  • Believe me, you've got to get up pretty early in the morning if you want to get out of bed.
  • Oh, are you from Wales? Do you know a fella named Jonah? He used to live in whales for a while.

Animal Crackers (1930)

  • There's one thing I always wanted to do before I quit...retire!
  • You know I could rent you out as a decoy for duck hunters?
  • You know, I'd buy you a parachute if I thought it wouldn't open.
  • OK. You go Uruguay and I'll go mine!
  • One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don't know.

Monkey Business (1931)

The Marx Brothers, 1931, from top Chico, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo
Written by S. J. Perelman and Will B. Johnstone
  • I've worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.
  • Do you suppose I could buy back my introduction to you?
    • To Chico Marx
  • Groucho: Would you mind getting up off of that fly paper and giving the flies a chance?
    Chico: Flies can't read papers.
  • As soon as I get through with you, you'll have a clear case for divorce — and so will my wife.
  • Love flies out the door when money comes innuendo.
  • It's nice to have seen you, and I've got nobody to blame but myself.

Horse Feathers (1932)

Written by S. J. Perelman, Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, and Will B. Johnstone
  • Whatever it is, I'm against it!
    • Main line in his first musical number.
  • I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived.
  • Well I thought my razor was dull until I heard his speech.
    • After being introduced by the outgoing school president
  • Baravelli, you've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it.
  • Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse.
    • Remark to Frank (Zeppo Marx)

Duck Soup (1933)

Written by S. J. Perelman, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
  • Go, and never darken my towels again.
  • I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows till you come home.
  • [regarding Mrs. Teasdale's late husband] Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.

A Night at the Opera (1935)

  • [To Mrs. Claypool] That woman? You know why I was with her? She reminds me of you. In fact, that's why I'm sitting here with you — because you remind me of you! Your hair, your eyes: everything about you reminds me of you. Except you. How do you account for that?

(Variant) "Why was I with her? She reminds me of you. In fact, she reminds me more of you than you do!

  • [To Mrs. Claypool] Fine. But if you're not in my room in ten minutes, I'll be back here in eleven. With squeaky shoes on.
  • [as he stands over the tenor's unconscious body] Oh, well, he pulled a knife on me, so I shot him.

A Day at the Races (1937)

  • (while taking another character's pulse) Either he's dead or my watch has stopped.
  • Hey, don't drink that poison! That's $4.00 an ounce!
  • Chico: One dollar and you'll remember me all your life. Groucho: That's the most nauseating proposition I ever had.
  • Send some roses to Mrs Upjohn and put "Emily, I love you" on the back of the bill.
  • Emily, I have a confession to make: I really am a horse doctor; but marry me and I'll never look at any other horse.

At the Circus (1939)

  • I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.

Unsourced

Marx Brothers, 1948
  • A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.
  • A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
  • A moose is an animal with horns on the front of his head and a hunting lodge wall on the back of it.
  • Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.
  • An apprentice mortician? What, do you only bury live people?
    • You Bet Your Life (television show; undated)
  • Because we were a kid act, we traveled at half-fare, despite the fact that we were all around twenty. Minnie insisted we were thirteen. "That kid of yours is in the dining car smoking a cigar," the conductor told her. "And another one is in the washroom shaving." Minnie shook her head sadly. "They grow so fast."
  • Before I speak, I have something important to say.
  • Blood's not thicker than money.
  • Do infants have as much fun in infancy as adults do in adultery?
  • Eventually I smoked Havanas. A cigar makers' organization once said that I was the most famous cigar smoker in the world. I don't know if that's true, but once while visiting Havana, I went to a cigar factory. There were four hundred people there rolling cigars, and when they saw me, they all stood up and applauded.
  • Ever since they found out that Lassie was a boy, the public has believed the worst about Hollywood.
  • Home is where you hang your head.
  • How do you make your living? If you call that living...
  • I cannot say that I do not disagree with you.
  • I chased a girl for two years only to discover that her tastes were exactly like mine: We were both crazy about girls.
  • I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions — the curtain was up.
  • I drink to make other people interesting.
  • I feel [I feel] like an old jerk.
    • On how it felt to be an elder statesman of comedy, c. late 1960s
  • I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.
  • I have nothing but respect for you, and not much of that.
  • I intend to live forever, or die trying.
  • I made a killing on Wall Steet a few years ago...I shot my broker.
  • I started smoking as soon as I went on the stage. I'd make cigars out of the Morning World when I was a kid.
  • I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract.
  • I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are.
  • I'm not feeling very well, I need a doctor immediately. Ring the nearest golf course.
  • If women dressed for men, the stores wouldn't sell much -- just an occasional sun visor.
  • If you fall out of that window and break both your legs, don't come running to me.
  • If you want to see a comic strip, you should see me in the shower.
  • If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.
  • In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.
    • Will Rogers made a similar comment: "My little jokes never hurt anyone, but when Congress makes a joke, it's a law.
  • It isn't necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.
  • It looks as if Hollywood brides keep the bouquets and throw away the grooms.
  • Marriage is a wonderful institution ... but who wants to live in an institution?
    • This has also been attributed to Mae West
  • Marriage is the chief cause of divorce.
  • Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
  • My favourite poem is the one that starts "Thirty days hath September" because it actually tells you something.
  • My mother treated us all equally ... with contempt.
  • My son is half-Jewish. Can he wade in up to his knees?
    • When told that a swimming pool was off-limits to Jews
    • Variation: "Well, my daughter's only half-Jewish. Could she go up to the middle?"
  • Now, there's a man with an open mind. You can feel the breeze from here.
  • Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse.
  • Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.
  • Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
    A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.
  • Room service? Send up a larger room.
  • She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon.
  • A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.
  • That kid's so smart, he could be the fifth Marx Brother.
  • The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.
  • The only game I like to play is Old Maid — provided she's not too old.
  • The secret of success is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake those, you've got it made.
  • There is only one way to find out if a man is honest...ask him. If he says 'yes', you know he is crooked.
  • Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana
  • Time wounds all heels.
  • We should pull out. Which is what Nixon’s father should have done.
    • On Vietnam [1]
  • When I heard about Hair, I was kind of curious about the six naked primates on stage. So I called up the box office and they said tickets were $11 apiece. That's an awful price to pay. I went into the bathroom at home and took off all my clothes and looked in the mirror for five minutes. And I said, "This isn't worth $11."
  • Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.
  • Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?
  • Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, and I'm going to be happy in it.
  • A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
  • A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.
  • Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.
  • Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.
  • From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.
  • Go, and never darken my towels again.
  • Hey! don't drink that poison, that's $4 an ounce!
  • I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
  • I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
  • I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
  • I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.
  • I resemble that remark.
  • I thought my razor was dull, then I heard his speech.
  • I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
  • I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
  • If you write about yourself, the slightest deviation makes you realize instantly that there may be honor among thieves, but you are just a dirty liar.
  • In Hollywood, brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom.
  • Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
  • My mother loved children, she would have given anything if I had been one.
  • Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women.
  • Outside of a dog, a book is Man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
  • Pardon me while I have a strange interlude...
  • Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
  • There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he's crooked.
  • Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
  • Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
  • Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.
  • You get a canoe later and I'll paddle you.

Groucho has his own, highly individual interpretations of common supersitions. Some of his remarks include:

  • When a person's nose itches, it is a sign that it should be scratched.
  • A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.
  • Thirteen at a table is unlucky when the hostess has only twelve chops.
  • Shaking hands across the table means that two parties are lazy.
  • Singing before breakfast is a forewarning of a fight with a neighbour- if the neighbour is trying to sleep late.
  • Throwing salt over the shoulder is likely to give the impression that the man who throws the salt has dandruff.
  • Recognising the number 13 is a sign that you have been to school.
  • Finding a four leaf clover is a sign that you have been down on your hands and knees.
  • To get out of bed on the wrong side probably means that you had had too much the night before.
  • To carry a rabbit's foot is a sign that you are a good shot- or have a friend that is.
  • When three men get a light off one match it is indicative of the fact that they have only one match or are Scotsmen.

Misattributed

  • Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?
    • In the movie Duck Soup this line is spoken by Chico Marx, who is dressed up as Groucho.
    • [Variant]: Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?
  • It is better to have loft and lost than never to have loft at all.
    • Said by Chico in Monkey Business, while being chased around a hayloft by a gangster (1931)
  • I've been around so long, I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.

Quotes about Marx

  • Some years back, after a childhood of preocupation with comedy that led me to observing the styles of all the great comedians, I came to the conclusion that Groucho Marx was the best comedian this country ever produced. Now I am more convinced than ever that I was right. I can't think of a comedian who combined a totally original physical conception that was hilarious with a matchless verbal delivery. I believe there is a natural inborn greatness in Groucho that defies close analysis as it does with any genuine artist. He is simply unique in the same way that Picasso or Stravinsky are, and I believe his outrageous unsentimental disregard for order will be equally as funny a thousand years from now.
    In addition to all this, he makes me laugh.
    • Woody Allen on the liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972)
  • Groucho appeals on so many levels at once that you could go nuts trying to figure out whether it's the funny movement, the incomparable tone of voice, what he is saying, or that keenly witty face that hits you the hardest. I swear that if he never existed, we would sense a lack in the world of comedy, like that planet in the solar system that astronomers say Ought to be there.
    For me he is The Master.
    • Dick Cavett on the liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972)
  • Groucho Marx is the only actor I ever allowed to ad-lib in a show I wrote. That was because I couldn't stop him.
  • George Kaufman and I wrote a lot of funny lines for Groucho, some of which he occasionally used... but it was Groucho who by his innate sense of timing and his inimitable delivery, added the ingredient that brought the house down.

See also

External links

Wikipedia
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