Saturday, April 16, 2011

Arthur Marx R.I.P.

Author and comedy writer Arthur Marx passed on 14 April 2011 at the age of 89.

Arthur Marx was born on 21 July 1921, the son of famed comic actor Groucho Marx and his wife Ruth Johnson. Her early years were often spent on the road with his father and his uncles, the famed Marx Brothers. Once the Marx Brothers began making movies, Groucho and his family would settle in Los Angeles. As the son of one of the most comedians of all time, Mr. Marx grew up among celebrities, from actors to directors.

Oddly enough given his origins, Arthur Marx would not first find fame in the entertainment field. Instead he would become famous initially for his skill at tennis. Indeed, he achieved national ranking while he was still in high school. At age 18, while at the University of Southern California, Mr. Marx won the National Freshman Intercollegiate Tennis title at Montclair, New Jersey. During World War II he served in the Coast Guard in the Philippines.

Following World War II Arthur Marx took up writing. He worked as an advertising copywriter, as well as a gag writer for Milton Berle. His first screenplay would be for the film Winter Wonderland in 1947. Over the next several years he would write screenplays for such films as Blondie in the Dough (1947), Gypsy Holiday (1948), Reducing (1952) , and Do Someone A Favour (1954).  In 1951 his first book was published, The Ordeal of Willie Brown.

Arthur Marx would write a few more movies, including A Global Affair (1964), I'll Take Sweden  (1965), Cancel My Reservation (1972), and Groucho (1982). He would write plays for Broadway, including The Impossible Years (1965), Minnie's Boys (1970),and Groucho:  A Life in Revue (1986). He would write extensively for television, beginning with an episode of G.E. Theatre  in 1960. Over the years he would write for such series as Dennis the Menace, McHale's Navy, Petticoat Junction, The Mothers-in-Law, Love American Style, All in the Family, and Alice.

It would be for his books that Arthur Marx would perhaps be best known. In all Mr. Marx wrote twelve books, many of them biographies such as Goldwyn: A Biography of the Man Behind the Myth (1976), Red Skelton (1979), The Nine Lives of Mickey Rooney (1988), and The Secret Life of Bob Hope (1993). He wrote several books regarding his relationship with his famous father, including Life with Groucho (1954), Son of Groucho (1972), and Arthur Marx's Groucho: A Photographic Journey (2001). While Mr. Marx's books were not always free of bias (this was perhaps particularly true of The Secret Life of Bob Hope), they were always well written and meticulously researched. The reader was guaranteed that nearly everything in a book by Arthur Marx was documented.

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