Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Harpo Marx

Who died on this date:

On September 28, 1964, actor Harpo Marx died. He was born on November 23, 1888 in New York City and was the second oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by pantomime traditions, wore a curly reddish wig, and never spoke during performances (he blew a horn or whistled to communicate. He got his stage name during a card game at the Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg, Illinois. The dealer called him "Harpo" because he played the harp. His first film appearance was in the 1921s, Humor Risk, with his brothers, although according to Groucho, it was only screened once and then lost. Four years later, Harpo appeared without his brothers in Too Many Kisses, four years before the brothers' first widely-released film, The Cocoanuts (1929). Harpo became famous for prop-laden sight gags, in particular the seemingly infinite number of odd things stored in his oversized pockets. In the film Horse Feathers (1932), Groucho, referring to an impossible situation, tells Harpo that he cannot "burn the candle at both ends." Harpo immediately produces from within his coat pocket a lit candle burning at both ends. Earlier in the film a man on the street asks him for a cup of coffee, and he subsequently produces a steaming cup from inside his coat! He often used facial expressions and mime to get his point across. Harpo Marx died on September 28, 1964, after undergoing open heart surgery. Harpo's death was said to have hit the surviving Marx brothers very hard. Harpo was cremated and his ashes were reportedly sprinkled into the sand trap at the seventh hole of the Rancho Mirage golf course which he occasionally played on.

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