Gummo Marx

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Gummo Marx
Born Milton Marx
(1892-10-23)October 23, 1892
Manhattan, New York City
Died April 21, 1977(1977-04-21) (aged 84)
Palm Springs, California
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Occupation Actor, theatrical agent
Spouse(s) Helen von Tilzer
(m. 1929; her death 1976)
Parent(s) Minnie Schönberg
Sam "Frenchie" Marx
Relatives Al Shean (maternal uncle)
Chico Marx (brother)
Harpo Marx (brother)
Groucho Marx (brother)
Zeppo Marx (brother)

Milton Marx (October 23, 1892 – April 21, 1977), better known by his stage name Gummo Marx, was an American vaudevillian performer, actor, comedian and theatrical agent.[1] He was the second youngest of the five Marx Brothers. Born in Manhattan, New York City, he worked with his brothers on the vaudeville circuit, but left acting when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I (years before his brothers Chico, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo began their film career).

Life and career

Marx was born in Manhattan, New York City on October 23, 1892.[2] His parents were Sam Marx (called "Frenchie" throughout his life), and his wife, Minnie Schoenberg Marx. Marx's family was Jewish. His mother was from Dornum in East Frisia, and his father was a native of Alsace and worked as a tailor.[3][4][5]

Although the fourth Marx Brother in age, he was the first to make his debut, pretending to be a dummy in an act with his uncle Henry Shean (né Heinemann Schoenberg) in 1899. Milton was put into a costume with a papier-mâché head and pretended to be a dummy while Henry pretended to work him. The act may have only performed once and was not helped by Shean's deafness or Milton's stammer.[6]

Gummo, who in an interview said he never liked being on stage, left the group and joined the military during World War I. He wasn't sent overseas because the armistice was signed shortly afterward. Gummo's younger brother Zeppo took his place in the group. Gummo later went into the raincoat business.[7] After his Army career he joined with Zeppo and operated a theatrical agency.[8] After that collaboration ended, Gummo represented his brother Groucho and worked on the television show The Life of Riley, which he helped develop. He also represented other on-screen talent and a number of writers. Gummo was well respected as a businessman. He rarely had contracts with those he represented, his philosophy being that, if they liked his work, they would continue to use him, and if not, they would seek representation elsewhere.[9]

Around the time he left his brothers' Vaudeville act, Marx applied for a patent for a clothes packing rack. On October 28, 1919, Marx was granted patent US1320335A.[10]

Gummo was given his nickname because he had a tendency to be sneaky backstage, and creep up on others without them knowing (like a gumshoe). Another explanation cited by biographers and family members is that Milton, being the sickliest of the brothers, often wore rubber overshoes, also called "gumshoes," to protect himself from taking sick in inclement weather.[11]

Personal life

He married Helen von Tilzer on March 16, 1929. Their son, Robert, was born in 1930.[12]


Gravesite of Gummo Marx

Gummo died on April 21, 1977, at his home in Palm Springs, California, aged 84, from a cerebral hemorrhage.[1] His death was never reported to Groucho, who by that time had become so ill and weak that it was thought the news would be a further detriment to his health. Groucho died four months later.

Marx was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[13]


His grandsons are actors Gregg Marx, Chris Marx, and actor/producer Brett Marx, who as a child actor appeared as 'Jimmy Feldman' in 1976's comedy film The Bad News Bears.

When Richard J. Anobile asked Groucho in The Marx Bros. Scrapbook which of his brothers he was closest, Groucho replied, "Gummo. He's a nice man, and that's more than I can say for Zeppo".[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Gummo Marx, Managed Comedians". New York Times. Reuters. April 22, 1977. p. D19. Retrieved 2013-12-15. Gummo Marx, an original member of the Marx brothers' comedy team, died here today. He was 84 years old. 
  2. ^ The 1900 United States Census shows his birth as "October 1892". His World War I draft registration uses "October 21, 1892". His death certificate and his grave use the year 1893. The documents closest to the birth date are usually more accurate.
  3. ^ La famille paternelle des Marx Brothers (French)
  4. ^ "Mrs. Minnie Marx. Mother of Four Marx Brothers, Musical Comedy Stars, Dies.". New York Times. September 16, 1929. p. 27. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Samuel Marx, Father of Four Marx Brothers of Stage and Screen Fame". New York Times. May 12, 1933. p. 17. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  6. ^ Bader, Robert S. (2016). Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 9780810134164. 
  7. ^ Current Biography, The H. W. Wilson Company, retrieved 2011-11-29 
  8. ^ The Marx Brothers : Their World, Their Movies, Their Lives, Their Humour and Their Legacy by Robert G. Anstey
  9. ^ Simon Louvish. Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2000. 337-8. ISBN 0-312-25292-7
  10. ^ Patent US1320335A: Devices facilitating the insertion of articles or materials into bags e.g. guides or chutes, US Patent Office, 1919.
  11. ^ Bader, Robert S. (2016). Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. p. 170. ISBN 9780810134164. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Gummo Marx at Find a Grave
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