Groucho Marx - comedian; Marvin Hamlisch - piano
Sadly, much of this recording is damaged and many of the wonderful stories and anecdotes appear here in an incomplete form. While the quality of this recording is not up to Wolfgang's standards, we have made an exception for this truly extraordinary event.
There is enough of Groucho's banter, his responses to questions from the audience, and popular Marx Brothers songs to get a good idea of what a remarkable celebrity he was. In 1972, at age 81, Marx was anything but retired. Although his film and TV career had pretty much ended more than a decade earlier (after the mid-1960s he only did guest appearances), and it had been nearly 11 years since the Marx Brothers had worked together (a failed TV pilot in the early 1961 just prior to Chico's death was the last time they were filmed together), Groucho still had much to do and say when this show was recorded in August, 1972.
Marx was on a book promotional tour that included a mini-run of theater shows. Kicking off with a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, the show featured Groucho at a podium reminiscing about the Marx Brothers, his childhood, his marriages, and his long solo career in film and TV. Throughout the show, his accompanist, pianist Marvin Hamlisch, would jump in with a classic Groucho song, and the legendary comedian would start to sing.
This show was recorded at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco, and was promoted by Bill Graham. Graham actually performed on the show itself, singing a song to Groucho before he introduced him on stage. Also on the bill that night was a young actress named Erin Flemming, who was also Grouch Marx's manager and travel companion. Flemming was actually a failed actress who often used her representation of Marx to get acting gigs for herself. Though many felt she took advantage of the elderly Marx (his own son, Arthur Marx, sued to have her removed as his manager), many felt she single-handedly revitalized his career and brought about the huge resurgence in the Marx Brothers' popularity with college students that took place in the late-1960s and '70s.
Groucho Marx outlived all but one of his four siblings, dying in 1977 at age 87 from complications due to pneumonia.