the prizefighter, the alleycat and the president


When I think of Groucho Marx I think of cigars and animal crackers and nights at the opera. He also wrote fine letters to people he admired such as T S Eliot

November 1, 1963

Dear Tom

Since you are actually an early American, (I don’t mean you are an old piece of furniture but you are a fugitive from St Louis), you should have heard of Tom Gibbons. For your edification, Tom Gibbons was a native of Minnesota which is only a stone’s throw from Missouri. That is, if the stone is encased in a missile. Tom was, at one time, the light-heavyweight champion of the world.

Tom Gibbons

The name Tom fits many things. There was once a famous Jewish actor named Thomashevsky. All male cats are named Tom – unless they have been fixed. In that case they are just neutral and, as the upheaval in Saigon has just proved, there is no place any more for neutrals.


The third President of the United States first name was Tom…. in case you’ve forgotten Jefferson.

So, when I call you Tom, this means you are a mixture of a heavyweight prizefighter, a male alley cat and the third President of the United States.

Albert the Alley Cat

I have just finished my latest opus, “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover.” Most of it is autobiographical and very little of it is fiction. I doubt whether it will live through the ages, but if you are in a sexy mood the night you read it, it may stimulate you beyond recognition and rekindle memories that you haven’t recalled in years.


I would be interested in reading your views on sex, so don’t hesitate. Confide in me. Though admittedly unreliable, I can be trusted with matters as important as that.

My best to you and Mrs. Tom.

Yours, Groucho


Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (54)  
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  1. Groucho is a hero of mine.

    Groucho’s quiz show once had a contestant, the mother of no less than 13 children. “How extraordinary!” he remarked.

    She blushed, and replied, “Oh, Groucho, but I love my husband.”

    “I love my cigar, too,” quipped Groucho, “but I take it out occasionally.”

    • Great line headbang!

  2. Ah! The very clever, funny and oh-so-sharp Groucho. Did you know he was good friends with Alice (the black eye makeup)Cooper? Definitely worth a bit of Nursie research!
    An old friend of mine used to go out with Harpo and play naughty no-speaky tricks!(Harpo was not mute.)

  3. I never tire of watching Marx Brother films

    • Got a favourite Duncan?

      • OMG I love the spaghetti scenes on the ship in A Night at the Opera.

  4. watching Marx Brothers (and the Three Stooges) as a child is probably why my sense of humor is supremely warped…

    • I think with you it’s Nature vs. Nurture and Nature won πŸ˜‰

  5. I wish I could write letters like that …… marvellous

    • He makes you want to confide in him doesn’t he?

  6. Groucho was an amazing guy.

    • And kinda sexy too

  7. The good nurse always puts me in a sexy mood.

    • My intentions exactly RF!

  8. I love Groucho! He wrote letters in the exact same string of consciousness style that I used to unconsciously (ironic, I know) adopt when I used to smoke pot.

    He was a character in real life too!

    • Bet he had a French maid or two as well πŸ˜‰

  9. Man, I should write letter more.

    And then be funnier.

    Or I could just get somebody funnier to write letters to me.

    Yes, that does seem like less work.

    Well, there’s a plan.

    • Get your cousins to do it Megan

  10. “Men tighten the knot of confusion
    Into perfect misunderstanding.”

    • “Let us go then, you and I,
      When the evening is spread out against the sky
      Like a patient etherized upon a table…..”

      • Are you two a double act?

      • I set that to music once, for some reason that escapes me.

        Poor Eliot. While he was listening to the mermaids riding seaward on the waves, Bertrand Russell was diddling his wife, so I’ve read. No wonder Groucho pulled his chain.

  11. I heard he got kind of crotchedy in his later years.

    • Better than taking up crochet

      • The school’s croquet team just won the Victorian schools championships in croquet (senior division.)

  12. Favourite quote….

    “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

    • That’s my favourite quote too Nick!

  13. I love Groucho! What an awesome letter! If I ever wrote a letter to T.S. Elliot (not that I ever would have), I would be so self conscious about my writing that it would be horrible and stilted. Elliot would read a sentence and then throw it in the garbage. Groucho was so cool.

    • Maybe if you had sent a photo with it….. he was a collector of photographs and paintings of famous people. Especially people with cigars. You know what to do with a cigar don’t you Robin?

  14. I had to explain to my niece the other day that the Marx Brothers weren’t named, Groucho, Karl and Pinko.

  15. Cigars, Animal Crackers, and Nights at the Opera would make a great title for something.

    Memoirs of a Mangy Lover looks good. I feel like I have the same nose as that woman.

  16. kisses to you nursie gorgeous

  17. I am Groucho!

  18. I wonder what was the reaction of Mr.Eliot to this?

    • oo yes! I’d love to read his reply!

      • I can only find a reply dated 3 June 1964 so there may have been some correspondence not published

        “Dear Groucho
        We have arranged a car to collect you and Mrs Groucho on Saturday from the Savoy, we look forward to seeing you both with the greatest of pleasure.
        The picture of you in the newspapers saying that, amongst other reasons, you have come to London to see me has greatly enhanced my credit in the neighbourhood, and particularly with the greengrocer across the street. Obviously I am now someone of importance.
        Ever yours,

  19. if that’s the case.
    it would be rather cool to be called Tom

  20. Some of my writings were once called “Grouchy Marks” – – –

  21. This is a truly cool find, this snippet of correspondence. Groucho was certainly very attractive under the trademark disguise.

  22. Though admittedly unreliable… such honesty!

  23. LOL!!! Ok i’m totally retarded and clueless as to who this person is/was although i’m fairly sure i’ve heard the name. I’m def googling him up! I wish i were blessed with such wit!

  24. A one of a kind human being, and the best of the best. Tanks for the mammories.

  25. The first guy that ever professed his love for me was named Tom…We said that we would name our first born children after each other …and I did…

    • Did he reciprocate?

  26. Ah I wish I could pen a letter like that one

  27. I love the books of Groucho’s letters. And the movies. Those were some talented folks in that family.

  28. Haha! “I don’t mean you are an old piece of furniture but you are a fugitive from St Louis”

    I heart Groucho.

  29. I fear that text messages will make letters such as this gem obsolete.

  30. As an admirer of fine letters I thank you for this! I’ve always liked Groucho (but don’t think he needed to bold his jokes. That’s just showy.

  31. what a treat! I am not certain how you come across these but do hope you’ll consider the blog to book route for some of these jewels.

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