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You Bet Your Life

Groucho Marx knew the secret word was enjoyment.
Arthur Marx
From the Print Edition:
Groucho Marx, Spring 93

(continued from page 1)

But the theater manager was outraged when he saw the painted mustache and confronted Groucho about it backstage after the performance.

"What's with the greasepaint mustache?" he asked Groucho. "I don't like it."

"You don't like it?"

"No. It looks phony."

"Who cares?" Groucho retorted. "It didn't hurt the laughs any."

"I don't care, Groucho. I paid for a real mustache, and I expect to get one."

But Groucho refused to back down, and from that moment on, he painted on the mustaches and eyebrows that soon became his trademark.

The painted mustache stayed with him through big time vaudeville, three Broadway hit shows--I'll Say She Is (1924), Cocoanuts (1926), and Animal Crackers (1928)--and 13 Marx Brothers films, which included The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930) (both reproductions of the aforementioned Broadway shows), and the classic, A Night at the Opera (1935).

The Marx Brothers films of the '30s and early '40s left Groucho financially comfortable--which was terribly important to a man who lost nearly every cent on Black Monday in 1929. After that shock, Groucho was forever insecure about money--he would have preferred to keep the greasepaint under his nose in case he needed to sell it as oil someday.

It took the Second World War and an incident in the train station in Washington, D.C., to make him give up the greasepaint mustache.

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