Sunday, April 17, 2011

Son of a Grouch

One of the first books I reviewed for The New York Times was Son of Groucho (1972), the second volume that tennis player and author Arthur Marx wrote about his famous father. That came to mind as I read that Arthur died at his Los Angeles home this last Thursday at age 89.

In his Times obituary of the younger Marx, William Grimes recalls:
His own show-business career was varied and long, writing Hollywood screenplays and scripts for some of television’s most popular sitcoms. ...

But his father’s life and career provided Mr. Marx with perhaps his richest source of material. “Life With Groucho,” published in 1954, captivated readers with its sharp but affectionate portrait of Groucho--who peppered the narrative with kibitzing footnote[s]--and its shrewd account of the show-business milieu in which he thrived. A sequel, “Son of Groucho,” was published in 1972. ...

Taken together, Arthur Marx’s two books about his father offered a bittersweet picture of life in the Marx home. He described himself as desperate both to escape from his father’s shadow and to please him, an impossible task. The comic genius who kept millions in stitches was, in his private life, miserly and emotionally distant.

“No matter how much he loves you, he’ll rarely stick up for you,” Mr. Marx wrote in “Son of Groucho.” “He’ll make some sort of wisecrack instead to keep from getting involved. It’s a form of cowardice that can be more frustrating than his monetary habits.”
READ MORE:Arthur Marx Obituary,” by Michael Carlson (The Guardian).

UPDATE: Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site notes that, in addition to being a biographer and memoirist, Arthur Marx “also wrote several novels, including three mystery novels: Set to Kill (Barricade, 1993); Tulip (PublishAmerica, 2004); and Lust for Death (PublishAmerica, 2008).”

No comments: