Considered one of America’s greatest comedians, Groucho Marx is a distinctive figure of stage and screen. Making a cigar a central part of his character and appearance, Marx has long been an icon in the world of cigars.
To celebrate this cigar-smoking icon, we take a look at his life and relationship with cigars.
Born as Julius Henry Marx in 1890 in Manhattan, Marx spent his youth working alongside his brothers in vaudeville. This did not bring in much money for the family, but it helped to establish Marx within the vaudeville and stage world of New York.
After years of working in small-time vaudeville, Marx and his brothers landed a spot on stage as the comedic stars of Palace Theatre in New York. Together they found success on Broadway with a number of comedic productions.
Following his work on stage, Marx made 26 films, many of which were in collaboration with his older brothers. Two of his most popular films were developed from stage productions he had made – Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts.
In addition to his work on stage and screen, Groucho Marx also worked as a radio host, performing comedy and hosting a quiz on-air. The quiz, You Bet Your Life, proved so popular on the radio that Groucho eventually took to the show to the screen, with the quiz show running on TV for 11 years!
One of the most notable aspects of Groucho Marx’s life is his distinctive appearance. Known for his trademark glasses, moustache and – of course – always having a cigar in hand, Marx used his exaggerated appearance to enhance his comedy performances.
Love of Cigars
Groucho Marx discovered cigar smoking when he was 15 and acting on vaudeville. To start with, the cigar was used as a clever acting prop. The idea behind it being that if he forgot his lines, he could smoke the cigar on stage until he remembered them, without the audience realising.
At the time, he used nickel cigars as they were all he could afford, but as he earned more money, he upgraded to more luxurious smokes.
Groucho Marx began to smoke a brand of Cuban cigars called La Preferencias due to the fact they were advertised as offering ’30 Minutes in Havana’. In a move that perfectly summarises Groucho’s humour, he returned to the shop to complain after the cigar only smoked for 20 minutes! He managed to return and get a replacement cigar five times before he was told to leave the store!
Despite loving cigars, Marx didn’t smoke that many, especially compared with other famous cigar smokers. He chose to smoke one cigar after lunch and one after dinner.
If you want to try Cuban cigars like Groucho, then you can find a wide range available online at Havana House.