Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers” as Want to Read:
Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Monkey Business is the first comprehensive biography of all five Marx brothers—Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo. It features the first authentic account of their origins, their comedy roots, and their twenty-four years on stage prior to their first movie, The Cocoanuts, in 1929. Monkey Business brings to life the vanished world of America's variety circuits, leading ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 25th 2001 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Monkey Business, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Monkey Business

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Craig Curtis
And interesting account of the extraordinary lives of some of the pillars of American comedy. I was, however, somewhat disappointed in the writing itself. Among other things, I was annoyed at how often the author would reference himself at several points during the story. In a forward or even an epilogue of the story of other historical people, it would be acceptable for an author to offer a personal opinion or background on their studies, but doing it at several points throughout the book takes ...more
Sarah
It took me a long time to decide how many stars to give this book, and I'm still not sure if I made the best choice with three. This is a well-written, engaging book, and a lot of time, effort, and research went into the making of it.

As I was reading it, however, I felt like there was something bothering me, a nagging feeling that continued until I finally narrowed it down: the fact that the author seemed to take a certain malicious glee in revealing the foibles and the flaws of the Marx Brothe
...more
Linda
May 02, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently saw a state production of Animal Crackers in Ashland, OR, and became fascinated (again) with these guys. The actors were great and a young woman in the bookstore told me that the fellow who played Groucho is painfully shy. Coulda fooled me!!!

Although the author doesn't write very well, he does give a wealth of information. First of all, a grouch bag was the place where vaudevillians kept their money, hence Groucho. He also places the group within the ancient comedic tradition of a smart
...more
Jack
Jul 26, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I really liked this one. It gets bogged down in the early period trying to sort out the hearsay of their European ancestry, but once it's solidly established in the Brother's timeline, it's very enjoyable
Tandava Brahmachari
[from my blog: http://blog.whistledance.net/2006/01/... ]

After a recent spate of Marx-Brothers-movie-watching, I went and found Monkey Business, by Simon Louvish to read more about them. Fascinating. I had never even realized there was a fifth brother, Gummo Marx, who never went so far in show biz with the others. The most fun bit, though, may be reading bits of scripts that never made it into movies. I especially loved this quote, from a show called "On the Balcony" in the '20's, before their m
...more
Rozonda
Feb 08, 2013 Rozonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has made me feel something I hadn't felt for some time- wishing for a book not to end. Informative and entertaining at the same time,funny at some moments, moving at others, and giving a historical and social context to the Brothers, their lives and their work, this book comes from a real Marx Bros fan but at the same time is de-mythifying and explores all sides of Groucho and his brothers, the nice ones and the not-so-nice. Great job, specially for fans like me.
jamie
Nov 29, 2007 jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
there are little details i love and remember: like the story of a young harpo going to a piano-playing job in chico's place and getting fired for playing the same song over and over again. and any story about the boys doing vaudeville.

it was also incredibly sad to read about the end of groucho's life, how he was taken advantage of and then, at his death, not properly celebrated because of the death of another legend, elvis presley.

good reading if you're a fan.
Siany
Sep 08, 2007 Siany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic! I believe that Tone has my copy, Tone??? I had intended to fly to the U.S to make a documentary after reading one of the 'urban legends' in this book, still on my list of to do's, pfff.

If you are even remotely amused by The Marx Brothers then you should read this. Simon Louvish also wrote 'Man on the Flying Trapeze' (W.C Fields), another great read in my expert opinion!
Kelseyflora
Jan 21, 2008 Kelseyflora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably only appeals to those most rabid of Marx Brothers fans, but for that set (however large or small it may be), this book is the ultimate. Aside from reading fanzines written by 80-year-old men in their garages, this is the best way to get the inside scoop on the lives of Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and even Zeppo, which were so masked by their antics and characters.
Linda
May 18, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't what I had been looking for. This book is perfect for people who are interested more in their theatre career and filmography. I was hoping for more of a book about the men behind the myth
Jerry Booth
Jan 03, 2011 Jerry Booth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic look at the lives and careers of the Marx Brothers (all five of them).
Atchisson
Jan 31, 2008 Atchisson rated it it was amazing
Great book! It's a really neat behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the Marx Brothers. Can read and reread. Never gets old.
Brian
Sep 25, 2014 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Disappointing. Didn't learn much, except that they were Vaudeville veterans who gained success on the silver screen. Chico like to gamble. Not recommended
Paul Ditroia
Mar 29, 2016 Paul Ditroia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read dozens of books on the Marx Brothers as a whole and individually and this is by far the most insightful, well-researched I have come across.
Simon Wallis
Simon Wallis rated it really liked it
May 05, 2015
Samantha Shelby
Samantha Shelby rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2015
Annie
Annie rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2017
Jeffrey
Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2008
Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright rated it really liked it
Jul 15, 2015
Libby
Libby rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2009
Jay T.
Jay T. rated it really liked it
Dec 15, 2016
Marcos Bellisco
Marcos Bellisco rated it liked it
Jan 15, 2017
Steve Stickel
Steve Stickel rated it really liked it
Jan 18, 2014
Emilio Amaro
Emilio Amaro rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2017
jennifer medina
jennifer medina rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2007
michael d bogdan
michael d bogdan rated it really liked it
May 29, 2014
Sean
Sean rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2011
Brett
Brett rated it it was ok
Mar 27, 2012
Jorgen Sundberg
Jorgen Sundberg rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2014
Jamie
Oct 02, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny. The Marx brothers were just as crazy in life as they were on the big screen.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart
  • It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks
  • Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess
  • Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Sometimes Zeppo: A Celebration of the Marx Brothers
  • Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys
  • Conversations With Scorsese
  • Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince : a Biography
  • Songwriters On Songwriting
  • Harpo Speaks!
  • And It's Goodnight from Him . . .: The Autobiography of the Two Ronnies
  • Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius, "The World's Greatest Bass Player"
  • Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass
  • Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era
  • The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash
  • Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, Madness, and the Mob
  • Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life
  • Herbert Huncke Reader
  • The Life And Times Of Little Richard
Simon Louvish (born 1947 in Scotland) is an Israeli author and film maker. He has written many books about Avram Blok, a fictional Israeli caught up between wars, espionage, prophets, revolutions, loves, and a few near apocalypses.

He has also written biographies of W. C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, and Mack Sennett.
More about Simon Louvish...

Share This Book