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Harpo Speaks! Paperback


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Harpo Speaks! + Groucho And Me + The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 482 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; 1st Limelight ed edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879100362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879100360
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

To Marx Brothers fans who have yet to read this book: Put it off as long as you can, because once you are finished, you will wish you could read it again for the first time. Harpo's life was interesting in itself, but it also frequently intersected with the lives of other fascinating people, most notably his own brothers and drama critic Alexander Woolcott. Marx also was part of the legendary Algonquin Round Table; he's got plenty to say about that. Wait'll you hear about what it means to "throw a Gookie." You'll never be able to watch a Marx Brothers movie again without looking for the Gookie!

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Harpo has always been my favorite Marx brother.
Joyce McQueen
Great stories, and great to find out that Harpo, the man, was really as sweet and funny in his "real life" as you'd hope he was , based on his film persona.
Howard Beal
And the way he told the story of how his wife Susan courted him.
devotedmarxist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Nelson R. Willis on November 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
_Harpo Speaks_ is deffinitely one of the best books I have ever read by anyone, anywhere, not just among books about the Marx Brothers, but among books on any subject. Even though it was several hundreds of pages long, I wanted several hundred more pages when I got to the end. It was so totally engrosing. Harpo seems to have an almost inexhaustable supply of hilarious true stories. I wonder why more of these hysterically funny tales and practical jokes were not used in Marx Brothers movies. There are, it must be said, also several serious passages -- some heartbreaking, some suspenseful, some inspirational. There are parts of this book which read like a wonderful manual on how to have a great marriage and adopt and raise four great kids, which is exactly what Harpo and Susan did. Harpo was an extremely interesting person who surrounded himself with many extremely interesting friends. Harp has many lessons to teach on how to get the most out of every moment, and out of life. This book makes you wish you had met Harpo; it makes you wish you had been one of his friends. He shares so much in this book that is personal that reading it makes you feel almost as if you are one of his friends. Rowland Barber helped Harp get his great story across in a fairly orderly manner, but the content of the book is all from Harpo's fascinating mind, big heart, and his numerous, diverse, extaordinary experiences. This book is about Harp's and his brothers' career(s) in show business, but it is about so much more than that; there are amazing true stories about poverty & affluence, tough urban street life, Vaudville, Broadway, Hollywood, international espionage, love, family, friendship, life & death, crime & punishment, failure & success, anti-Semitism, and more. There are also some wonderful photographs.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on January 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Autobiographies are usually enjoyable for one of two reasons. The author can possess an engaging style that piques the reader's interest regardless of the material. On the other hand, the author may have lead such an interesting life that the subject matter is fascinating despite their ability to spin a good yarn. Fortunately, in the case of HARPO SPEAKS! both conditions are satisfied, creating a well-written, intriguing look at one of the more interesting characters of the first half of the Twentieth Century.
Harpo Marx was famous for being the silent clown who never uttered a word during any of the dozen or so Marx Brothers movies. However, his story is quite a fascinating one. I'll admit to being slightly surprised at exactly how engaging the prose style of this book was. Having no idea what he sounded like, even in scripted movie conversation, I was curious as to how he'd come across in print. Fortunately, either he or his co-author, journalist Rowland Barber, was quite good at the art of storytelling. The reader really feels close to the action, as though one were really there. It's a simple and straightforward style, but it's one that is quite effective.
As I mentioned, the events of Harpo's life were extraordinary in themselves. Quite literally a rags-to-riches story about a group of vaudeville brothers who made it very big, this book is excellent at reconstructing those early days when they rarely had enough to eat, but always had a laugh and a game of cards to pass the time. The autobiography goes into great detail about his early childhood, from being literally thrown out of school (from a first floor window) and never returning, to every lousy part-time job that he had.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Danielle Bennignus on June 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a true must-read for anyone, Marxist or not. Full of good humor, incredible experiences, an amazing childhood, and life in vaudeville, its message is one of warmth and hilarity. I first read it at 18 years of age, and still revisit its pages twelve years later. I hope that's always the case, for each time, I find something new.
As you read through this book, you'll find yourself thinking, "There just aren't people like this guy anymore" - Harpo Marx was the cheerful, resourceful product of turn-of-the-century New York, and vaudeville, at that. His childhood of scrapping out a survival of relative destitution (the jobs he took are hilarious, and fascinating, to read about), in a loving, albeit quirky, family couldn't be found in fiction - it's too wacky to have been invented. And his introduction to life on the stage - well, you'll have to read for yourself.
Harpo Marx's life seems never to have had a dull moment - from a hugely successful life on stage and screen, to his intimate friendships with members of the legendary Algonquin Round Table (the croquet fixation among those folks is a book in itself) - it's practically a life worthy of fairytale status. His stories about Alexander Woollcott are absolutely hysterical, and a great treat by themselves. And don't even get me started on the section about Oscar Levant - just thinking about it makes me laugh out loud. Finally, we read about Harpo's marriage to Susan Fleming, and their adoption of five children. The warmth and humanity that were such a huge part of Harpo can be summed up by the reason he chose to adopt five children - so that when he came home every day, there would be a face in each window to greet him. What a great, great man.
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