Shalom Life | October 02, 2014

Jewish Hall of Fame: Groucho Marx

Today we induct the legendary film and TV star, considered one of the finest comedians of the modern-day era

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: October 1st, 2014 in Culture » TV » News

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today's society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today's younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.

Check out last week's inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx

Born: October 2nd, 1890 in New York, New York.

Died: August 19th, 1977 in Los Angeles, California.

Born on October 2nd, 1890, in New York City, Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx would one day go on to become one of the biggest names in comedy along with his brothers. The middle child of five brothers, Groucho grew up in a poor family. His father, Samuel, was a tailor who struggled to find business. His mother, Minnie, however hoped that their family could achieve some level of financial stability and success through her five children and she encouraged them to develop their artistic talents.

Although Groucho, who was given his name by a friend who felt the nickname encompassed his personality, had aspired to be a doctor when he grew up, he began his career in the limelight as a singer. He traveled to Colorado as part of the Le May Trio, but after having his money stolen from one of the group members, he worked at a grocery store until he had enough money to travel back to New York.

Thanks to his mother, who encouraged him and his siblings to explore their talents to the fullest, Groucho and his brothers were already used to working on the stage. While the original Marx’s brother’s performance included Groucho, Leonard (Chico), Adolph (Harpo), and Milton (Gummo), the first World War called Milton away and their youngest brother Herbert (Zeppo) took his place. Despite performing together when they were younger, the brothers got their big break in 1914. While performing in Texas, the audience fell in love with Groucho’s quick wit and cutting jibes.

Come the 1920's, the Marx Brothers were insanely popular for their cutting edge comedy and innovative routines. Groucho’s trademark was a long coat, thick glasses, his signature mustache, and a cigar which he would smoke on stage during the act. By 1924, the brothers were performing on Broadway with show’s like I’ll Say She Is, which Groucho helped to pen. They also performed in The Cocoanuts, and Animal Crackers in 1928.

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