Published Wednesday, October 02, 2013 @ 6:31 AM EDT
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an
American comedian and film and television star. He is known as a master
of quick wit and widely considered one of the best comedians of the
modern era. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden
patter earned him many admirers and imitators. (Click
here for full Wikipedia article)
A likely story- and probably true.
A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
Africa is God's county, and he can have it.
Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that
I was born at a very early age.
Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.
Before I speak, I have something important to say.
Blood's not thicker than money.
Don't look now, but there's one too many in this room and I think it's
Don't point that beard at me, it might go off.
Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.
From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was
convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.
Go, and never darken my towels again.
Growing old is something you do if you're lucky.
He may look like an idiot, and he may talk like an idiot, but don't let
him fool you. He really is an idiot.
Here's to our wives and girlfriends. May they never meet.
Home is where you hang your head.
Humor is reason gone mad.
I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions: the
curtain was up.
I don't have a photograph. I'd give you my footprints, but they're
upstairs in my socks.
I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a
I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You
Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: 'I
smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally?' I never said
I have nothing but respect you, and very little of that.
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an
I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent,
as written in our contract.
I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are.
I've been looking for a girl like you- not you, but a girl like
I've had a wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
If women dressed for men, the stores wouldn't sell much-just an
occasional sun visor.
In Hollywood, brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom.
It isn't necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be
Just give me a comfortable couch, a dog, a good book, and a woman. Then
if you can get the dog to go somewhere and read the book, I might have a
Love flies out the door when money comes innuendo.
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Money will not make you happy, and happy will not make you money.
My experience is that people are most likely to listen to reason when in
My favorite poem is the one that starts 'Thirty days hath September'
because it actually tells you something.
My idea of a good evening is to be at home, alone, listening to good
political arguments on the television, reading... I put on my pajamas,
fill a pipe with very good tobacco, and I soliloquize while the world
No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.
Now there sits a man with an open mind. You can feel the draft from here.
Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men, the other 999 follow
She got her good looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon.
There is no sweeter sound than the crumbling of your fellow man.
There's one way to find out if a man is honest- ask him. If he says
"yes," you know he is crooked.
Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others.
What has posterity ever done for me?
Why, a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and
find a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail of it.
You've got a goal; I've got a goal. Now all we need is a football team.
You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I bet he was glad to
get rid of it.
Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 2:44 AM EDT
(YouTube video: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady,")
Yesterday was Groucho's
birthday, and every other year or so I post this clip of him singing Lydia,
the Tattooed Lady from the classic Marx Brothers film At The
I was just about to re-post the video when I remembered an e-mail I had
received from a reader the last time I published it. A 21-year-old
college student asked if Lydia was a "gibberish" song, because
many of the lyrics made no sense to him.
Lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg was at the top of his form when he wrote Lydia.
It's fiendishly clever, invoking historical and contemporary references,
and he effortlessly blends them with oblique asides describing Lydia's
impressive physical characteristics. The result was an instant classic.
I watched the video again, and then it dawned on me... if my young
reader had failed to pay attention during his history, literature, and
geography classes, he just wouldn't get it.
So, if you've listened to Lydia and found yourself not only
tapping your toes but scratching your head, here are the lyrics. With
There will be a quiz later, so please pay attention.
Lydia The Tattooed Lady (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by
E.Y. Harburg, the guys who also did "Over the Rainbow.")
Ah, this meeting brings back memories. Childhood days... Lemonade!
Romance! My life was wrapped around the circus... Her name was Lydia. I
met her at the World's Fair in 1900 (marked down from 1940). Ah, Lydia...
She was the most glorious creature under the sun... Thaïs!(1) du
Barry!(2) Garbo!(3) Rolled into one...
Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia? Lydia The Tattooed Lady She
has eyes that folks adore so, And a torso even more so. Lydia, oh
Lydia, that encyclopedia.(4) Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo. On
her back is The Battle of Waterloo,(5). Beside it The
Wreck of the Hesperus(6) too. And proudly above waves the
red, white, and blue(7). You can learn a lot from Lydia!
When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world, If you step up
and tell her where. For a dime you can see Kankakee(8) or
Paree(9), Or Washington Crossing The Delaware.(10)
Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia? Oh Lydia The Tattooed
Lady. When her muscles start relaxin', Up the hill comes Andrew
Jackson.(11) Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia. Oh
Lydia the queen of them all. For two bits(12) she will do
a mazurka(13) in jazz, With a view of Niagara(14)
that nobody has. And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.(15) You
can learn a lot from Lydia!
Come along and see Buffalo Bill(16) with his lasso. Just a
little classic by Mendel Picasso.(17) Here is Captain
Spaulding(18) exploring the Amazon(19). Here's
Godiva,(20) but with her pajamas on.
Here is Grover Whalen,(21) unveilin' the Trylon.(22), Over
on the West Coast we have Treasure Island.(23) Here's
Najinsky(24) a-doin' the rhumba.(25) Here's her
social security numba.
Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia Oh Lydia the champ of them all. She
once swept an Admiral clear off his feet. The ships on her hips made
his heart skip a beat. And now the old boy's in command of the fleet, For
he went and married Lydia!
I said Lydia... He said Lydia... I said Lydia... We
said Lydia... La la!
(1) Thaïs, a stunningly beautiful and rich fourth
century courtesan who lived in Roman-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. She
eventually saw the error of her ways, converted to Christianity, gave
her money to the church, spent three years immured in a convent cell as
extreme penance, and died 15 days after her release.
(2) Jeanne Bécu, a.k.a. Madame du Barry
(August 19, 1743 - December 8, 1793), the stunningly beautiful and,
alas, final Maîtresse-en-titre (chief mistress) of King Louis XV. She
was convicted of treason for helping people flee the French Revolution
and was beheaded on the guillotine.
(3) Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson,
(September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990), the stunningly beautiful Swedish
film actress and international star. She made fewer than 30 films during
her 1920-1941 career, retired at the age of 36, and spent her remaining
years shunning publicity.
(4)A book or set of books containing articles on
various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all
branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.
(5)The military engagement in which an imperial French
army under the command of Emperor Napoleon was defeated by the armies of
the Seventh Coalition on June 18, 1815.
(6)The Wreck of the Hesperus is a narrative poem
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describing... well, bottom line, we're
talking about a tattoo of a wrecked, ice-covered ship on a reef with a
dead little girl tied to a broken, floating mast.
(7)The colors of the U.S. flag, a reference to the flag
itself, or a reference to the country.
(8)Kankakee, Illinois, a city about 60 miles south
southwest of Chicago.
(9)Paree (Paris), France's capital and largest city.
(10)German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb's 1851
oil-on-canvas painting depicting, with numerous inaccuracies and
anachronisms, then-General George Washington standing in a boat, leading
his troops in the Christmas 1776 sneak attack against Hessian
mercenaries stationed in Trenton, New Jersey.
(11)Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson (March 15, 1767 –
June 8, 1845), the seventh President of the United States, serving two
terms from 1829 to 1837. He's best known as the guy on the $20 bill and
the first President someone tried to assassinate. Prior to entering
politics, he was a noted military leader whose exploits included leading
his troops up a steep hill near Tohopeka, Alabama on the March 27, 1814
Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the War of 1812. (The War of 1812 lasted
until 1815.) The reader is encouraged to learn more about Jackson.
His presidency makes the current situation in Washington look like a
60s' hippie love-in. Old Hickory was ill-tempered, unforgiving, and the
target of vicious personal attacks. During the 1828 election, his
opponents called him a jackass. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast later
used the jackass to characterize members of Jackson's then newly-formed
Democratic party, a symbol that remains to this day. Jackson had been
involved in numerous duels and had so many bullets lodged in various
body parts that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles."
(12)25 cents. The etymology is left as an exercise for the
(13)An upbeat Polish folk dance.
(14)Niagara Falls, the three cataracts located on the border
of New York state and the province of Ontario, Canada.
(15)The island in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Federal
Penitentiary operated there from 1933 to 1963.
(16)William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846
– January 10, 1917), whose eponymous wild west shows toured the U.S. and
(17)Either badly-punctuated references to geneticist Gregor
Mendel and artist Pablo Picasso, or lyricist Harburg coupling the last
name of a world famous artist to a funny-sounding Jewish first name. You
know, like Shlomo Warhol. Come to think of it, Shlomo Picasso is
(18)The character Groucho portrayed in the stage play and
film Animal Crackers.
(19)The river in South America, not the website.
(20)In 1028, Lady Godiva repeatedly asked her husband Leofric
(the Earl of Mercia) to not pass along to the impoverished citizens of
Coventry the taxes levied on him by the King of England, Edward the
Confessor. ("Trickle down" had a different meaning then.) Leo told Lady
G that if she'd ride naked through the town market on a horse, he'd nix
the tax hike. The next day she did just that. Leofric kept his promise
and eliminated all taxes in Coventry except for those related to
boarding horses. The bits about her covering her, uh, bits, with her
long flowing hair- and the story that Tom the Tailor was struck blind
when he took a peek as she passed by his shop (the origin of "Peeping
Tom")- are later embellishments.
(21)President of the New York World Fair Corporation.
(22)One of two large structures located at the center of the
1939 World's Fair in New York.
(23)A man-made island in San Francisco Bay between San
Francisco and Oakland.
(24)Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1889 or 1890 – April 8, 1950),
considered by many to be the greatest male dancer of the early 20th
(25)A style of ballroom dancing based on the Cuban
bolero-son. Not to be confused with the terminal emulation software. Or
the autonomous robot vacuum cleaner.