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The Groucho Letters

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  960 Ratings  ·  96 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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 21st 1994 by Da Capo Press (first published 1967)
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Oct 23, 2008 Dolores rated it it was amazing
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
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
Vishnu Vardhan
Jul 20, 2016 Vishnu Vardhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What wondrous wit! Almost as much fun as his films. Crisp wisecracks abound, laughter flows, gaiety prevails.
Jeff Crompton
Sep 05, 2012 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kathy  Olivos
Me llevé este libro en préstamo por 2 razones: 1- soy fan de Woody Allen quien a su vez es fan de Groucho Marx, 2- Me pareció extraño encontrar este título en una ciudad y época tan alejada de la realidad y contexto histórico del personaje. Respecto al contenido, debo decir que al no estar familiarizada con la vida y obra de Groucho ni con el mundo del espectáculo norteamericano de la primera mitad del siglo XX, se me hizo algo complicado asimilar la cantidad de personajes a quienes aparecen ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Norman rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 22, 2014 Ángel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La correspondencia del genial Groucho Marx con su familia, amigos, productores, escritores, periodistas, admiradores y demás, aparece en una cuidada edición por parte de Anagrama, "La conjura de la risa", la cual es indispensable.

Estas cartas irónicas y divertidas son una gran obra de la literatura epistolar. Olviden a Cantinflas, si de verdad quieren sonreír, y vuélvanse marxistas
Jan 06, 2009 Elliott rated it really liked it
Whenever I'm asked the question, "If you could have dinner with one person from all of history, who would it be?" I reply, "Groucho Marx." This book just reminded me again of why I answer that question the way I do.
Anita Stanton
Oct 30, 2015 Anita Stanton rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Loved the back and forth banter with Groucho and his friends, keeping in mind they were writing letters and that these letters took more time to get to their recipients. Not like today with our instant messaging.

It was a fun read.
Oct 11, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
This is a great book for reading in waiting rooms or anywhere else where you just have time for snippets. It's a quick, easy read, and Groucho's comments are far superior and funnier than those of any of his correspondents. Here's an example: "I am beginning to regard myself as the kiss of death to any branch of the amusement industry. When I reached big-time vaudeville it immediately began to rot at the seams. During the days when I was a movie actor no theater could survive unless it gave away ...more
Aug 08, 2010 Moody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Klagge
May 05, 2013 James Klagge rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
Jun 22, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one will stay in my library.
It lends itself to repeated readings.

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) ferret-faced shyster 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
Feb 14, 2016 Rozonda rated it it was amazing
It's been often said of Groucho that he,like Falstaff, was not only witty himself, but also inspired the wit of others. It's quite true: one can see that because his correspondents in this collection of letters- probably also because they were intelligent and witty themselves, comedians, scriptwriters, writers (like TS Eliot) and composers (like Irving Berlin)- are often as witty and funny as Groucho himself.

However, if you're looking for humour that will make you laugh out loud you should try
Oct 21, 2008 Danielle rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2012 Tristy rated it liked it
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
Joe Alfieri
Jul 16, 2012 Joe Alfieri rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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
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
John Mccoy
Jan 01, 2014 John Mccoy rated it it was amazing
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
Kevin Downey
Oct 20, 2007 Kevin Downey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 08, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 22, 2016 V rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. It's wonderful in so many ways: Groucho's
* wit, obviously. He was so quick, sharp, and creative.
* engagement with the world in terms of his profession, politics, family, etc. is inspiring.
* commitment to friendships is awesome. He certainly believed in the power of relationships and it shows in his writing.

The book also reflects what's going on in the world around him from the days of vaudeville to the Nixon years.

I highly recommend this book. I'm looking forward to rea
Jul 29, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
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
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
Michael Tildsley
Jun 25, 2016 Michael Tildsley rated it liked it
I kind of expected this book would be funnier than it was. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolutely hilarious letters in this book. Sadly for me, there are just as many mundane letters that just happen to be to famous people. It's hard to know how to rate this to be honest. I found it to be entertaining for about 60% of the time I read it, so I'm giving it three stars. Loved getting some new insight on Groucho.
Elijah Kinch Spector
Not to be read cover to cover as a book, better for picking up now and then when you want a little wit and old fashioned correspondence. Honestly, there are chunks of this that didn't need to be here, as Groucho was never at his best when he was being NICE. That said, when he's mean or weird, it's quite wonderful, and you can pretty much hear him saying it aloud. Worth it for the angry letters to the Warner Bros. that begin the book.
Mar 29, 2010 Raymond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-poetry
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.
Sep 16, 2009 Elissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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.
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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.

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“The only real laughter comes from despair.” 261 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.” 152 likes
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