Groucho Left His Marx On Us

Aug 18, 2017

Forty years ago this weekend, the funniest man God ever created died at the age of 86. The secret word was Groucho.

I sure hope someone looked at Groucho Marx and said -- as he did in "A Day At The Races" -- "Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped."

Groucho's death on Aug. 19, 1977, didn't get proper attention because Elvis Presley died three days earlier, at age 42.

Poster for "Monkey Business" (1931)
Credit Paramount Pictures

In honor of Groucho's passing, here are 40 of my favorite Groucho lines. And I'll take Groucho's Top 40 hits over Elvis Presley's any day. Here goes:

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard these before, because I want to hear them again.

Don’t look now, but there’s one man too many in this room, and I think it’s you. ("Duck Soup")

We’ll set up a 75-cent meal that will knock their eyes out. Once we knock their eyes out, we can charge anything we want.

She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon.

Why don't you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out? ("Horse Feathers")

Battle scene from "Duck Soup" (1933)
Credit Paramount Pictures

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

You're one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, and that's not saying much for you. ("Animal Crackers").

He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot. ("Duck Soup")

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going. ("Animal Crackers")

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.  Then we tried to remove the tusks. The tusks. That's not so easy to say: Tusks.  You try it some time. As I say, we tried to remove the tusks. But they were embedded so firmly we couldn't budge them.  Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa, but that is entirely ir-elephant to what I was talking about. ("Animal Crackers")

Groucho from NBC's "You Bet Your Life" quiz show in 1958
Credit NBC Television

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Well, I thought my razor was dull until I heard his speech. And that reminds me of a story that's so dirty, I'm ashamed to think of it myself. ("Horse Feathers")

I can see you bending over a hot stove. Only I can’t see the stove.

You can have any kind of home you want. You can even get stucco. Oh, how you can get stucco. ("The Cocoanuts")

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Have we got a college? Have we got a football team? Well we can't afford both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college. ("Horse Feathers")

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter.  Some day I intend reading it.

Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself.  You better beat it. I hear they're going to tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing.  ("Duck Soup")

Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?

Lydia the Tattooed Lady!

When her muscles start relaxin' up the hill comes Andrew Jackson

Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia, Lydia, the queen of tattoo

For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz

With a view of Niagara that nobody has

And on a clear day, you can see Alcatraz

You can learn a lot from Lydia! 

Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso

Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso

Here's Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon

Here's Godiva but with her pajamas on… 

("At The Circus")

Stateroom scene from "A Night At The Opera" (1935)
Credit MGM

Sign here, and give me your check for $1,500. I want to tell you, madam, that with this insurance policy you have provided for your little ones, and for your old age, which will be here in a couple of weeks now, if I'm any judge of things. ("Animal Crackers")

I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thought, I’d rather dance with the cows until you came home. ("Duck Soup")

Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.

Oh, I'd horsewhip you, if I had a horse!

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Groucho, Chico and Harpo with Margaret Dumont
Credit Paramount Pictures

MARGARET DUMONT: Why, that reminds me of my youth! GROUCHO: He must be a pretty big boy by now.

We took some pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed. But we're going back again in a couple of weeks. ("Animal Crackers")

I danced before Napoleon. No, Napoleon danced before me. In fact, he danced 200 years before me. ("Duck Soup")

You take me, and I’ll take a vacation.

Today, father, is Father's Day, and we're giving a tie

It's not much, we know, It is just our way of showing you

We think you're a regular guy

You say it was nice of us to bother, but it really was a pleasure to fuss

For according to our mother you're our father, And that's good enough for us!

--"Father's Day" by Harry Ruby

Groucho on Dick Cavett's late-night show.
Credit ABC Television

That's in every contract, that's what you call a sanity clause.  CHICO: You can't a fool a me! There ain't no sanity clause! ("A Night at the Opera")

I've got a good mind to go out and join a club and beat you over the head with it.

Maybe you could suggest something. As a matter of fact, you DO suggest something! To me you suggest a baboon! (pause) I'm sorry I said that. It isn't fair to the rest of the baboons. ("Duck Soup")

Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff.  If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff.  You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here?  You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. ("Duck Soup")

I intend to live forever, or die trying.

I'll do anything you say. In fact I'll even stay.  But I must be going.

Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped.

Groucho in "A Day At The Races" (1937)
Credit MGM