Julius Henry Marx–better known by his stage name Groucho Marx–passed away on August 19, 1977. He left behind a legacy of humor on stage, radio, and film. I was not able to find to find any images of him in our holdings, which was disappointing as his trademark mustache was a fine candidate for Facial Hair Friday.
However, I did find something unexpected. Groucho had been corresponding with President Truman.
What would a funny man and a President have in common? Well, it turns out that the young Harry Truman was an avid vaudeville fan, attending shows at the Orpheum Theatre and the Grand Opera House whenever he was Kansas City. He even took his future wife Bess to vaudeville shows on dates. Truman especially enjoyed the Marx Brothers, later recalling that he never missed a chance to see them when they were in town.
So Truman was a fan of the famous brothers, but how did he come to correspond with Groucho (and later Harpo Marx)?
It started with the displaced persons, the survivors of the Holocaust who had lost their homes and families and were now living in temporary camps. Truman had issued a directive in 1945 to allow some of them to immigrate to the United States. In 1946, Groucho Marx–the son of Jewish immigrants–sent Truman a newspaper clipping of an article claiming Truman had failed to … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on August 19, 2011, under - Presidents, - The 1960s, - World War I, - World War II, Facial Hair Fridays, Letters in the National Archives, Prologue Magazine.
Tags: displaced persons, Groucho Marx, Harry Truman, Holocaust, President Truman, vaudeville