Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Harpo Speaks! Paperback – July 1, 2004
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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!
Top customer reviews
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. The book spends quite a lot of time detailing the various schemes that Harpo and Chico (at that age, they were often mistaken for twins) had to try to make the largest amount of money possible while doing the smallest amount of work. Each method is equally hilarious, as are the attempts by Harpo to spend, or hide the resulting cash before Chico had a chance to "re-invest" it.
Much of the chronicle of his adolescence and early adult life centers on traveling on the road with his brothers and getting booked into a variety of theatres and clubs. Being on the road meant very little time to oneself, so we get a real sense of the relationship that existed between the members of the Marx family. Although this portion of the book is the most heavily involved in his stage performance, a great deal of time is still spent talking about different ways the Marx Brothers found themselves relaxing between shows. That means that there are a lot of anecdotes about card games, but don't worry -- the stories are wonderful.
The sections dealing with his adult life revolve more around his friends than on the work he was doing with his brothers on the silver screen. Fortunately, Harpo was mixing with some fascinating people, and you hardly miss the lack of discussion about his movie career. His descriptions of the time he spent during the '20s make for fascinating reading. Who would have guessed that Harpo Marx, the clown who ran around in a slashed raincoat, was mixing with intellectual heavyweights such as George Bernard Shaw and Alexander Woolcott? Even after the market crash and the end of that decedent decade, there are numerous amusing anecdotes, my favourite being the occasion that Harpo ended up being a spy for the U.S. Government, smuggling secret documents out of the Soviet Union.
The majority of the final few chapters deal with his wife and children. It's quite obvious that he cared deeply for his family, and one gets the impression that talking about them in this way is his equivalent of showing us his cherished family photographs. While this has the tendency to be slightly tedious in places, Harpo's enthusiasm is contagious. It's fascinating to see him learning lessons from his own childhood and from his children.
HARPO SPEAKS! is quite a recommended read for anyone, whether they're a Marx Brothers fan or not. Harpo's adventures make for wildly entertaining reading. Even during his later years of declining health and diminishing energy, Harpo never stops seeming like a kid who never grew up, yet one who was never childish or petty.
Beware the Kindle version, however. The images are poor and there is a multitude of irritating typos. After reading the Kindle version, I went out and purchased multiple hard copies of the book; one for myself and the others as gifts.
If you like the Marx Brothers, or even if you only like one of them, get this wonderful book.
And btw, I ordered this book way over here in Israel, and it came with no problem, on time and no customs duties. Great.