Groucho the Great

From vaudeville to Hollywood to television, for nearly 70 years Groucho Marx was one of the all-time great kings of comedy.

Thirty-five years ago on Aug. 19, 1977, the world lost the great Groucho. We're honoring him today with a look at the man (with the look so iconic that it was made into a popular novelty mask) and some of the most memorable work from his legendary career.

The Marx Brothers began their vaudeville careers as singers… but they didn't make much of a splash. At an early performance, when the audience clearly wasn't buying what they were selling, the brothers began to amuse themselves by joking around onstage. Much to their surprise, the audience loved it, and their comedy act was born. Still, the musical talent remained – as evidenced when Groucho had the chance to sing in a movie.

The Marx Brothers' stage show made the transition to the silver screen with ease. From the earliest days of talkies through the 1940s and even into the '50s, the team made some of the funniest movies in history.

Though Marx's movie career slowed down in the 1950s, there was still great success in store from him on TV. As host of the quiz show You Bet Your Life, Marx interviewed contestants – from regular folks to celebrities such as Ray Bradbury – and asked them trivia questions. Marx's quick and witty delivery kept the show popular for 11 seasons.

Groucho Marx was funny until the day he died. Though his gravestone has no epitaph, toward the end of his life he suggested a great one: "Excuse me, I can't stand up."