Thirty-five years ago this weekend (Aug. 19, 1977, to be exact), Groucho Marx died. It was not much of a surprise, really, not like the death of Elvis Presley three days earlier, which sent the country into a tizzy and mourners flocking to Memphis like it was Mecca. They're still doing that today, while us Groucho fans quietly reflect on blogs about his demise and how he sorta/kinda got robbed by Elvis's rolling thunder at the time. Me? I thought it was the best possible career move Elvis could have pulled off at the time. To this day, he is probably more profitable in death than he was in life. And for Groucho, death was a mixed blessing at best.
Groucho's death ended a long, sad, public slide. I thank god it didn't happen today with all the tabloid TV shows and media. Groucho and his family's battle with Erin Fleming was public enough; in today's 24-hour news cycle it would be a train-wreck of Anna Nicole Smith proportions (no pun intended), the kind of story that doesn't end with the subject's death. The entertainment media's predilection with necrophilia makes death just another part of the story, not the end.
But Groucho--like Elvis, who has a whole day of TCM movies going on as I write this--should be celebrated, not just mourned. The original "King of All Media" (unlike the bogus one-note Howard Stern who adopted that title), Groucho survived the rigors of backwoods Vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, and television. And in his off-time, he wrote a few books and magazine articles, and at least one play, too.
But probably the best way to celebrate Groucho Marx is to, quite simply, just show you this:
Apologies for the advertising that may pop up.