The Groucho Letters
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The Groucho Letters

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  639 ratings  ·  78 reviews
No personage is too big, no nuance too small, no subject too far out for Groucho’s spontaneous, hilarious, and ferocious typewriter. He writes to comics, corporations, children, presidents, and even his daughter’s boyfriend. Here is Groucho swapping photos with T. S. Eliot (”I had no idea you were so handsome!”); advising his son on courting a rich dame (”Don’t come out bl...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 21st 1994 by Da Capo Press (first published 1967)
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Community Reviews

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Dolores
This classic collection of Groucho Marx's correspondence, which was donated to the Library of Congress, at their request, gives the best glimpse into who Groucho Marx was. Not only do we see his letters to his family and friends, who included some of the century's most famous people, but we get to see what people wrote in return. Groucho's personality and wit shine through, and these letters are a rare treasure.
With little formal education, Groucho could construct a letter better than most peopl...more
Evan
In 1946, lawyers for Warner Brothers shot off warning letters to the producers of the in-production Marx Brothers opus, A Night in Casablanca, threatening the makers with legal action if they used the name "Casablanca" in the film's title.

Much to the chagrin of the lawyers and Warner's head, Jack Warner, Groucho Marx got wind of this inherently absurd threat. Needless to say, they had met their match.

What followed was a flurry of devastatingly funny, insulting letters from Groucho. They are clas...more
Norman
This book was amazing. It was more than amazing. They haven't invented a word yet for what this book is. I can tell you that it kept me highly entertained while waiting at my desk for customers to call. In fact, I would rather read this book then talk to those customers. I am disconnecting my phone and starting all over again.
Jeff Crompton
I didn't find Groucho's letter's as hilarious as some reviewers here, but he was certainly an excellent, clever writer, and there's plenty of funny stuff here.
James Klagge
A collection of letters from and to Groucho, from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. The letters to Groucho had rather little interest, apart from the fact that those who wrote to him seemed to try to adopt his style--usually not very successfully. I guess this happened b/c his own style is so powerful and distinctive that it is sort of contagious. The only bit that got me to laugh aloud recounted how a man was once saying grace in a low voice: Someone else at the table said that he couldn't hear w...more
Lisa
Reading this book makes me miss the days of letter-writing. I am amazed at the amount of letter-writing Groucho did, even if it was through dictation and secretaries. His voice comes through the words. Yes, he's funny, but he's also very sweet and thoughtful. There are letters to friends and to strangers, giving encouragement at the new release of a book they've written or an appearance they made on a t.v. show. The book includes some letters written to him, as well, and it is interesting how it...more
Moody
I miss letters.

I heard about this book on the radio. Some professional reader being interviewed talked about how he uses this book as lighthearted buffer, to take a break from denser reading material.

I would have liked to use it similarly, but there was a waiting list at the library and I had to power through the last half of the book (someone expecting short delivery rather than the 15 cents a day motivated this rush). I preferred reading just a letter or two a night, just a little taste before...more
Mike
This one will stay in my library.
It lends itself to repeated readings.

notes:
7..all the brothers enjoyed having feet scratched
Falstaff: not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in others
(cf S Johnson dullness quote)
16..lawyer ferret-faced shyster
18..my plans still in embryo
21..why can't he sleep? He has $, beauty, talent, vigor, and many teeth.
23..i know you're a busy man, playing with that toilet plunger, and i don't want to keep you from your work.
hurry, hurry, hurry!
32..leading a quiet, si...more
Danielle
Oct 21, 2008 Danielle rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: folks who write letters to their friends not only to inform, but to entertain.
Recommended to Danielle by: Jacqueline Treiber, Dave Gunn
This lucky duck just received THE GROUCHO LETTERS in the mail from her valentine and I tell you what, it's probably a good thing that Groucho has already kicked the bucket or I might mailing paper hearts to another man right now. The words of Groucho Marx to his friends, associates, and children are some of the most charming I've ever read, and in less than an hour I've already read the first 100 pages of the book.

In fact, I was already on the floor laughing within the first 5 sentences of the i...more
Joe Alfieri
You'll laugh till the cows come home. On second thought, why don't you go home and leave the cows here? At least we'll have another line to milk. Seriously, though (and can you tell the difference?) The Groucho Letters are laugh out loud funny, so if you're embarrassed by spewing liquid through your nose in public, you'd best read this one at home. Marxian dialog captured in short form with letters to the likes of Thurber and e.e cummings are hilarious, and enlightening in the realization that t...more
Tristy
Nov 11, 2012 Tristy rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: die-hard Groucho fans
This is definitely a window into the intimate world of one of the most funny human beings that ever lived. It's great to see how almost every correspondence from Groucho comes from a place of bemused, vaudevillian irreverence that only someone like Groucho could pull off. I wish we could read letters that the Marx Brothers wrote to each other, but as the excellent introduction states, they were rarely apart from each other long enough to write letters. I particularly enjoyed Groucho's letters to...more
John Mccoy
I end up re-reading this every few years and always enjoy it immensely. Groucho's sometimes absurd, sometimes dry humor is even more hilarious in the "natural" setting of his conversational letters than in the Marx Brothers' sometimes overly scripted movies. His range of correspondents is wide - from close friends and family members to studio heads and lawyers, and T.S. Eliot. (My favorite moment may be when Groucho and his wife have dinner with the Eliots in London. Groucho has re-read Death In...more
Joyce
Loved it!!! Donated to the Library of Congress in the mid-1960s, Groucho Marx's correspondence was first crafted into this celebration of wit and wisdom in 1967. Reissued today with his original letters and humor intact,The Groucho Lettersexposes one of the twentieth century's most beloved comedian's private insights into show biz, politics, business, and, of course, his illustrious personal life. Included are Marx's conversations with such noted personalities as E. B. White, Fred Allen, Goodman...more
Dana
Sep 15, 2012 Dana added it
How often do you get personal insight into the life of a great comedian, author, actor, and correspondent by reading his own words to other people? Not often.

And Groucho Marx isn't an ordinary writer. He's one of the great comedians of the past hundred years, and he's conquered all the media of his day—movies, television, radio, vaudeville/live performance, and the written word. He had only a few years of schooling, but he was damned smart, and became well-read.

His less-literate brother Harpo...more
Kevin Downey
Groucho Marx was a very funny man who wrote amusing letters to his friends and others. Some of these were collected in this book, published in 1965. At times, reading this book was like reading the script from a Marx Brothers movie. Included in this book is a touching exchange of letters between Groucho and T.S. Eliot, who finally met in England shortly before Eliot passed away. One very interesting letter was a note from Groucho congratulating his friend Arthur Murray (of dancing fame) on the m...more
Adrian
Jun 02, 2010 Adrian added it
When I started this book I wasn't sure I was going to read the whole thing but his letters are like popcorn once you start you can't stop. Funny, intelligent and sensitive. He corresponded with S.J. Perelman, Fred Allen, James Thurber and E.B. White. Among many others. There was a short correspondence with T.S. Eliot who he visited in England about a year before the poet's death. Groucho also wrote a letter to the chairman of Chrysler in the early 50s asking if there wasn't something that could...more
Julie
The more books I read about the Marx Brothers, the more I like them! Groucho comes off as intelligent, warm, and clever in this collection of letters - there are very few people whose letters I would enjoy reading, and I enjoyed this book. I also liked reading the letters To Groucho - fun to see how many influential, important people were so excited to get a letter from Groucho. I wish I could understand a little bit more of the cultural references, but that's a disadvantage growing up in a diff...more
Tom
Letters to and from Groucho Marx with others in show business as well as fairly important writers of his time. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that there's a keen mind behind his sarcastic tongue but it's still enlightening to see him casually quote poetry or reference obscure historical events. As he does this he generally undercuts himself at the same time staying true to his persona. I'm a great fan of the Marx Brothers generally, and Groucho in particular. I wish You Bet Your Life wa...more
Raymond
I don't know why I let this book sit, in this space, without comment. If I were ever to recommend a book, this would be one of them. Groucho's wit shines through in even the smallest of notes.

I am lucky enough to have heard him on radio with his You Bet Your Life show and later watched it on television. Of course, there are the movies with his brothers.

Groucho is an American treasure, this, or any book by him, is absolute evidence of the truth of that statement.
Lorea Castroviejo Grozin
Adoradora de Los Hermanos Marx como soy, por fin he terminado el aburrido recopilatorio de cartas. No negaré que tiene momentos sublimes, más bien frases. Pero el libro es perfecto para quien haya vivido en esa época y conozca de primera o segunda mano a todas las personas a las que se refiere en cada carta. Desconociendo los famosos de esa sociedad en aquel momento, no le puedes ver realmente el sentido a sus gracietas.
Marie
Some of the letters were very funny, others more on inner giggle.

I think this book was first published in the mid to late sixties which meant most of the people in the correspondence were probably known to readers. I think later editions would benefit from footnotes on the people.

Still good stuff and I plan to pepper my own vocab with some of the swell sayings
Travis
After his death, Groucho Marx writings, including a ton of letters, were donating to the Library of Congress. The best of the bunch are gathered here and give us a fascinating peek at Groucho and his life and times.
Neat bits of history and Groucho's POV on them and fun to see the various famous names that he became pen pals with.
Great book.

Patricia
Funny letters from a funny man. We learn how smart he was, how well read, how much he cared about his children. I wish the editor had provided more notes on who some of the people were. The letters from Fred Allen are choice because he was his equal. Groucho encouraged Allen to write books, which Allen did. Thank you, Groucho.
Jeff Hinsonofabeesting
Insight into the personal life of Groucho. His sense of humor and the dynamic that was his genius is revealed on a different level than that which was portrayed in his film and TV career. This collection includes correspondence with his brothers as well as his contemporaries. Many, many memorable quotes to and from Groucho.
Elissa
For those who aren't already aware - Groucho is not the most morally upstanding man of his time and this book has its share of his bawdy jokes and references. But it is also chock full of his sharp wit and I laughed my way through a large percentage of this book. The chapter "Grouchy" is easily the most entertaining.
Sarah
This is a hilarious and entertaining collection, and I only wish that I could write letters like Groucho. My one complaint was the fact that the was it was organized- by topic- was a little bit odd, and I think I would have either preferred it exclusively by recipient/writer pairing or by chronology.
Lamont
Brilliant. This is a great read, perfect for the nightstand. Or standing at night when you can't fall asleep. It's nearly inspired me to write once again those lengthy short story-size letters was once infamous for. (The ones with sentences ending in prepositions.) Nearly.
Stephanie Baker
This is just a book of letters. Not all of them are funny (most of them aren't). I didn't know who most of the people he was writing to, which might have made it better reading. The book is oddly organized with the letters divided into categories that are not clearly defined.
Chris
It's a shame that the Marx Brothers are only thought of in terms of their movies (if at all), because reading anything written by Groucho reveals him to be extremely funny as a writer as much of a performer (Harpo is also funny, but more innocently funny than Groucho).
Andrew
This is wonderful. Full of the trademark wit of one of the funniest people to ever live. His letters to the Warner Brothers complaining because they won't let him call his movie "A Night At Casablanca" is worth the price of the book alone. What a character...
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Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, was an American comedian and film star. He is famed as a master of wit. He made 15 feature films with his siblings, the Marx Brothers, and also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show, You Bet Your Life. He had a distinctive image, which included a heavy greasepaint moustache and eyebrows, and glasses.

More about Groucho Marx...
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“The only real laughter comes from despair.” 187 likes
“I read in the newspapers they are going to have 30 minutes of intellectual stuff on television every Monday from 7:30 to 8. to educate America. They couldn't educate America if they started at 6:30.” 146 likes
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