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Lawrence Bush
October 1, 2017

Groucho (Jules Henry) Marx, the comedian who bred anarchy and tweaked the pretensions of upper-class society with his brothers, Chico and Harpo, was born in New York on this date in 1890. He made twenty-six movies, including thirteen with his brothers, and hosted the comic quiz show, “You Bet Your Life,” on radio and television. Marx supported leftwing causes in the 1930s and accumulated an FBI dossier (which reported, without irony, that he was clearly “a Marxist”), but evaded any political harassment. In 1956, he performed a Charleston atop the pile of rubble that marks the site of the Berlin bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide. In 1974, Marx accepted an honorary Academy Award on behalf of the Marx Brothers and their leading lady, Margaret Dumont. To watch him as a contestant on “What’s My Line?”, look below.

“Those are my principles and if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others.” —Groucho Marx

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.