5 Things You May Not Know about Harpo Marx


5 Things You May Not Know about Harpo Marx

 Harpo Marx

Like that today, Nov. 23, is his birthday. Happy 128th Birthday to legend Harpo Marx!


1) Hair wasn’t really his thing

Harpo Marx without wig

Harpo: au natural

When you think Harpo, you think: harp, top hat, long trench coat and curly blonde hair. Well, much like Groucho’s insanely fake mustache, Harpo’s hair was also fake: in reality he was as bald as his brother!


2) Art, however, was this thing


This looks like my kind of party…

Harpo was a huge art lover and had an extensive collection that included pieces by Joseph Hirsch, George Grosz, and LeRoy Nieman. He also was good friends with Salvador Dali, who once gifted Marx a unique piece of art: a harp with barbed wire for strings and spoons for tuning knobs, wrapped in cellophane. Needless to say, Harpo loved it.


 3) He was all about adoption

Harpo Marx and his children

They take after their father, I see…

Harpo and his wife, Susan Fleming, adopted four children: Bill, Alex, Jimmy, and Minnie. Harpo was once quoted as saying: “I’d like to adopt as many children as I have windows in my house. So when I leave for work, I want a kid in every window, waving goodbye.” I guess he only had four windows…


4) There’s a reason he didn’t speak

The Marx Brothers with tuba

Harpo and the bros

As most of you probably guessed, Harpo wasn’t actually mute: he just played one on TV (or, really, the movies). However, Groucho did write in his memoirs that Harpo wasn’t the best at memorizing lines. So, instead of forcing him to do something that he wasn’t good at, the Marx Brothers used it to their advantage and simply made Harpo’s character mute. Because, ya know, something about life and lemons and lemonade.


5) About that reading music thing


Stay classy, my friend

Despite the fact that the crux of his character was about being a harp player, Harpo couldn’t actually read music. Heck, he didn’t actually even play the Harp right. He was completely self-taught and played in a way that placed far less tension on the strings. To his credit, he did eventually try and learn the correct way to play. But whenever he took lessons, his teachers just wanted to watch him play because they were fascinated by his self-taught method!  I hope you didn’t spend too much money on those harp lessons, Harpo!


Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

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6 Responses to 5 Things You May Not Know about Harpo Marx

  1. Michael Bard says:

    I never new these facts about Harp Marx which fills in the missing gaps of knowledge about the Marx Brother’s humor. Harpo and Lucile Ball must had a great time when they worked together. A song of humor must have been strumming from angels harps.

  2. David Golden says:

    Harpo actually had a much deeper voice than his brothers. He would have made a great radio announcer, except for his thick New York accent.

  3. Shelia says:

    Totally fascinating!
    Thanks Minoo

  4. Irene says:

    Awesome facts

  5. Pete says:

    Actually, Groucho made no mention of Harpo’s inability to memorize lines. In “Groucho and Me”, I believe, there was a mention of a stage show in which Harpo was given only one line, and in protest (according to Groucho) he never spoke on stage again.

  6. KD says:

    And they were very funny without any profanity!
    Oh for the days…

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