Groucho Marx: A funny man with a funny name, playing characters with even funnier names.

“Those are my principles.  If you don’t like them, I have others.”–Groucho Marx

The inimitable Groucho

The Inimitable Groucho

Julius HenryGrouchoMarx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was not only one of the funniest men to ever live, he also played some of the funniest named characters in American movie history.  It’s also notable (at least to me) that he is the “ridiculous” part of the inspiration for the name of my personal blog (The Millennium Conjectures: A blog of the Ridiculous and Sublime).  And by the way,  the “sublime” half of the inspiration is one Mohandas K. Gandhi (October 2, 1869-January 30, 1948).  The point?  Well, take a close look and you will see one similarity.   They share the same birthday, October 2,  which just happens to be my birthday–if many years later.

But I digress.  While Groucho’s name may only be somewhat funny, many of the character names he played in a slew of classic Marx Brothers movies were over the top funny.  Here are just a few of them,  in chronological order.

Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Horsefeathers, 1932)

” I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived. “–Groucho Marx in Horsefeathers.

While Groucho’s first truly iconic role was that of  Captain Jeffrey Spaulding in 1930’s Animal Crackers, Wagstaff was his first funny-named character.  But believe me, in that department he was just getting started.

Rufus  T. Firefly (Duck Soup, 1933)

“Go, and never darken my towels again.”–Groucho Marx in Duck Soup.

While originally opening to mixed reviews, perhaps due to its then already dated World War I era political satire,  Duck Soup has since become regarded as a classic and comedic masterpiece and was named to the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 films of the 20th century.  One critic said “love the comedy and ignore the plot.”  No kidding.  Caring about the plot of a Marx Brothers movie is like caring about the frame on a Picasso.

Otis P. Driftwood (A Night at the Opera, 1935)

“And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.”–Groucho Marx in A Night at the Opera

Another classic which was also named to AFI’s top 100 American Films of the 20th century.  It just happens to also include what I consider the funniest scene of slapstick comedy ever made. (See below).

I’d laugh even harder, but the last cruise I went on, my own cabin was about that size.


Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush (A Day at the Races, 1937)

“I have a confession to make.  I’m a horse doctor.  But marry me and I’ll never look at another horse.”–Groucho Marx in A Day at the Races

As suggested by the quote above, Grouch plays a veterinarian of dubious skills in this flick.  I always think of the character name as being Dr. Quackenbush.  And as my wife happens to be a veterinarian, I laugh doubly hard.  Hey, if I can laugh at myself,  I can laugh at my wife, too.

J. Cheever Loophole (At the Circus. 1939)

 “I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.”  Groucho Marx in At the Circus

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, with that name, Groucho’s character in this one was a lawyer.  It wasn’t the best of the Marx Brothers’ movies, but produced one of the most iconic musical numbers from their oeuvre, Lydia the Tattooed Lady.

That’s just a sampling,  but if you don’t like these, well, he has others!

Visit my insane blog, The Millennium Conjectures.






About Mark Sackler

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."-Alan Kay; Let's invent a better future, together.
This entry was posted in fictional funny names, funny names in movies, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Groucho Marx: A funny man with a funny name, playing characters with even funnier names.

  1. Dave says:

    That’s awesome!!! I didn’t know you were birthday buddies with Groucho and Gandhi! I bet Kerbey would have unearthed that if she were to write you a happy birthday message – she’s amazing at finding birthday buddies!

  2. Dave says:

    I think the name Groucho Marx is over-the-top funny! Groucho?!? What a name!!!

    The sad thing is that I’ve never watched a Marx brothers video before… but I will! And when I do, I’ll def ignore the plot!

    After watching that scene, I’d realized I’ve never even heard Groucho Marx’s voice before… now that I have, so many pop culture references make sense to me!!!

    Haha, that was some good slapstick at the end!

  3. Bumba says:

    Tremendous post for the great Groucho. I think Groucho is in my blood, although I’m not positive.

  4. Love Groucho. I watched him as a kid. He still makes me laugh. Great post!

  5. ksbeth says:

    each of these are so great –

  6. paralaxvu says:

    “Lydia” is now by far the best ear worm I’ve ever had!

  7. Pingback: Twinsies week! Funny Names in the News ~102, with Israel Kamakiwiwo’ole and his brother Skippy! | The Blog of Funny Names

  8. kerbey says:

    I shall never go on a cruise, having seen this cabin scene. Lydia is in my head now. Rufus T. Firefly has a certain ring to it. I remember reading as a young girl that both Groucho and Chaplin’s mustaches were grease paint, and how weird that seemed. I guess it’s better in the long run just to be able to wash it off. Isn’t it odd to think he died the same year as Elvis and yet they still sell Groucho glasses and noses? I can just see him flicking that cigar in his fingers. Hey, Mark–you do share your bday with a ton of good celebs, including Sting, Don McClean, Abbott (not Costello), and Spanky McFarland! Spanky is quite the nickname…

  9. Pingback: Time Out: Groucho Marx and the Funniest Film Character Names – The Millennium Conjectures™

  10. markbialczak says:

    I mean, the dude had fake glasses with the nose and ‘stache invented for him, Mark. Our genius, indeed. Down comes the duck, you win twenty dollars.

  11. Pingback: Sunday Cryptoquote Spoiler – 05/10/15 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

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