You can’t spell Groucho without grouch. In fact, famous funnyman Groucho Marx was quite cranky in real life. “He was a difficult person,” Frank Ferrante, a Groucho imitator, and family confidant, exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. Of the Marx Brothers, “He was the serious one.”
Groucho (born Julius Marx) developed this crotchetiness early in life. His mom, Minnie, forced him and sibs Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo into vaudeville, and “Groucho was her least favorite,” Ferrante said. “He never made it past sixth grade,” which gave him lifelong insecurity about his intelligence. “Groucho kept a dictionary in his car because he was always trying to improve his vocabulary.”
Still, Groucho developed a finely honed wit and used it to skewer the rich and powerful in classic Marx Brothers movies like A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. “He was irreverent and said things we could only imagine saying,” observed Ferrante. “That was exhilarating and appealed to audiences during the Great Depression. He didn’t pull his punches.”
His love life, however, was no laughing matter. Groucho was married and divorced three times. “He had a very unorthodox existence,” said Ferrante. “And he didn’t choose women who were his intellectual equals.”
Yet Groucho was a doting dad to son Arthur and daughters Melinda and Miriam. “He was very attentive,” said Ferrante, who added that Groucho often sang with his kids. “He gave them the gifts of great humor and music.”
Groucho shared those gifts with the world, and more than 40 years after his death, he still leaves us laughing. Noted Ferrante, “What better legacy is there than that?”
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