Groucho Marx : biography
Another TV show, Tell It To Groucho, premiered January 11, 1962 on CBS, but only lasted five months. On October 1, 1962, Groucho, after acting as occasional guest host of The Tonight Show during the six-month interval between Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, introduced Carson as the new host. In 1965, a weekly show for British TV titled Groucho was poorly received and only lasted 11 weeks.
In 1964, Marx starred in the "Time for Elizabeth" episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, a truncated version of a play that Groucho Marx and Norman Krasna wrote in 1948.
Groucho appeared as a gangster named God in the movie Skidoo (1968), directed by Otto Preminger, and co-starring Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing. It was released by the studio where the Marx Brothers began their film career, Paramount Pictures. The film received almost universally negative reviews. As a side note, writer Paul Krassner published a story in the February 1981 issue of High Times, relating how Groucho prepared for the LSD-themed movie by taking a dose of the drug in Krassner’s company, and had a moving, largely pleasant experience. Four years later came Groucho’s last theatrical film appearance, a brief, uncredited cameo in Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate (1972).
In the early 1970s, largely at the behest of companion Erin Fleming, Groucho had a live one-man show, including one recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1972 and released as a double album, An Evening with Groucho, on A&M Records. He also made an appearance in 1973 on a short-lived variety show hosted by Bill Cosby, who idolized Groucho.
Groucho developed friendships with rock star Alice Cooper—the two were photographed together for Rolling Stone magazine—and television host Dick Cavett, becoming a frequent guest on Cavett’s late-night talk show. He befriended Elton John when the British singer was staying in California in 1972, insisting on calling him "John Elton." According to writer Philip Norman, when Groucho jokingly pointed his index fingers as if holding a pair of six-shooters, Elton John put up his hands and said, "Don’t shoot me, I’m only the piano player," thereby naming the album he had just completed. A film poster for the Marx Bros. movie Go West is visible on the album cover photograph as homage to Groucho. Elton John accompanied Groucho to a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. As the lights went down, Groucho called out, "Does it have a happy ending?" And during the Crucifixion scene, he declared, "This is sure to offend the Jews."
Groucho’s previous works regained popularity and were accompanied by new books of transcribed conversations by Richard J. Anobile and Charlotte Chandler. In a BBC interview in 1975, Groucho called his greatest achievement having a book selected for cultural preservation in the American Library of Congress. As a man who never had formal schooling, to have his writings declared to be culturally important was a point of great satisfaction. As he passed his 81st birthday in October 1971, however, Groucho became increasingly frail physically and mentally as a result of several minor strokes he suffered., Mark Evanier, 1999-06-04, retrieved, 2007-08-09., Mark Evanier, 1999-06-11, retrieved, 2007-08-09. Controversy surrounded the companionship he had developed with Erin Fleming, which consequently raised disputes over his estate.
Jack Lemmon presented Groucho with an honorary Academy Award in 1974, his final major public appearance, in which he received a standing ovation. Noticeably frail and sluggish, Groucho took a bow for his deceased brothers, saying, "I wish that Harpo and Chico could be here to share with me this great honor." He also wished that Margaret Dumont could have been present, adding that she was a great straight woman for him and that she never understood any of his jokes. Groucho’s final appearance was a brief sketch with George Burns in the Bob Hope television special Joys in 1976.
His health was noticeably worsening by the following year and when Gummo died, aged 84, on April 21, 1977, in Palm Springs, California, the death of his younger brother was not reported to Groucho because it was thought too detrimental to his health.
Groucho maintained his irrepressible sense of humor to the very end, however. According to Dick Cavett’s New York Times blog, when the elderly Groucho visited an old friend in the hospital, he said to the elevator attendant, as if in a department store, "Men’s tonsils, please." When Groucho himself was on his deathbed, and a nurse came around with a thermometer, explaining that she wanted to see if he had a temperature, he responded, "Don’t be silly—everybody has a temperature.""They Dressed like Groucho" Retrieved 5/1/2012. George Fenneman, his radio and TV announcer, good-natured foil, and lifelong friend, often related a story in subsequent years of one of his final visits to Groucho’s home: When the time came to end the visit, Fenneman lifted Groucho from his wheelchair, put his arms around his torso, and began to "walk" the frail comedian backwards across the room toward his bed. As he did, he heard a weak voice in his ear: "Fenneman," whispered Groucho, "you always were a lousy dancer.""George Fenneman, Sidekick To Groucho Marx, Dies at 77" . Retrieved 2010-06-21.