Monday, November 23, 2009

The Silent Partner

The bewigged fellow above is our 96th hero of the day, one Adolph Marx, born this day 1888 in New York City, New York. Of course he is better known as Harpo of the Marx brothers. A name he received during a card game at a theatre in Illinois because he played the harp. He did play the harp in real life, he had received one as a gift from his mother, and tuned it as best he could, starting with one basic note and tuning it from there. Three years later he found out he had tuned it incorrectly, but he could not have tuned it properly; if he had, the strings would have broken each night. Harpo's method placed much less tension on the strings. It seems it did spent a lot of money and time hiring teachers to show him the right way to play the harp, but most of them were too fascinated by the way he played to be of any use showing him the right way. Harpo's claim to fame in the talented Marx brothers group was as the mute brother. He only spoke one line on camera ever, it was in the movie In Too Many Kisses: "You sure you can't move?" Ironically enough it was a silent movie, and the audience only saw his lips move and saw the line on a title card. He communicated on screen with all sorts of props the most famous being his horn. His silent act was implied by his brothers to be a choice of not speaking rather than Harpo being an actual mute. In his auto-biography he tells the story of meeting a man who thought that Harpo was a mute in real life, an opinion that was shared by many people. His trademark wild hairdo was, in fact, a wig that started out bright pink and eventually was toned down to red (even though it looks blonde on screen). He was apparently an overall nice guy, adopting four children with his one and only wife. Saying that he wanted to adopt as many children as his house had windows, so when he left home there could be a child at each window waving goodbye. So for making so many people laugh out loud, myself included, without having to say a word, Adolph (Harpo) Marx (November 23rd, 1888- September 28th, 1964, at the age of 75), you are my hero of the day.

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