Thursday, May 14, 2020

Episode 24: Take a Letter!

Here at The Marx Brothers Council Podcast, we are determined to address every detail of the Marx Brothers' lives and careers, no matter how obscure! This should prove it.

Official description: "This month we are joined by Zeppo expert/loyalist/fangirl/critic/stalker Andrea Orlando for a two-hour examination of the youngest Marx. Was he the funniest Marx Brother offscreen? Was he even a Marx Brother onscreen? Andrea rips some of Zeppo’s performances, then drools over his ripped shirt in Duck Soup. Matthew adds up his screentime, Noah secretly wonders if this was worth surviving COVID-19 for, while Bob questions how Vanity Fair will react. 

"Yes, we said two hours. About Zeppo Marx. You have something better to do? 

"Name checked in this episode: Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck, Hal Thompson."

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

Stream the episode via Cast.

Listen and subscribe via Google Play.

Listen and subscribe via Apple Podcasts.

Listen and subscribe via Stitcher.

Listen and subscribe via Blubrry.

Listen via YouTube:


  • Caption (from the L.A. Herald-Examiner, August 22, 1932) reads "Zeppo Marx, one of the famous four Marx brothers, comedians, re-enacts with typical Marxian interpolations the big jewel robbery at his Los Angeles home. In the first scene he discovers that jewelry valued at $37,600 has been stolen. In the next episode, he starts on the trail of the burglars with a duster, a butcher knife and an idea his three brothers might be helpful."
  • The Marx Brothers Council Podcast is included in Vanity Fair's "Eight Great Movie Podcasts to Try Once You've Finished You Must Remember This!"


  1. Great show. As a fan of the underdog, I've always had a soft spot for Zeppo. His appearance in "House that Shadows Built" gives a good idea of what he was probably like on stage -- an affable straight man capable of being amusing when given the chance. The bit with Zeppo reading his script to the agent while his brothers tear up the office always makes me laugh. Perhaps Matthew might understand when I posit that Zeppo, if given the chance in movies, could have been like Chesney Allen in the Crazy Gang: the "normal" guy who could take part in the shenanigans while trying to keep them in line when necessary.

    I don't get why people think his singing voice is dubbed in "Horse Feathers" and "Duck Soup." Wouldn't have Paramount found someone who sang a little better? I think the situation was Zeppo's voice wasn't particularly strong live, and, rather than reshoot the scenes, he dubbed it in under more favorable circumstances. (You might have touched upon that; I listened to the broadcast on and off over a couple of days).

    And his sense of humor: Didn't the Anobile book quote Jack Benny as saying Zeppo's humor offstage was Groucho's onstage?

    There's a video of Bill Marx and Dick Cavett somewhere on YouTube. Bill talks about being impressed as a child by Zeppo making Groucho laugh so hard that he fell off his chair. (Susan told him that only Zeppo had that ability.) Cavett recalls talking to Zeppo on the phone, and being impressed by his sense of humor and wealth of Marx Brothers stories that he had never heard before. The only reason why Cavett didn't have him on his show -- I think it was his first morning show -- was that he couldn't meet Zeppo's $3,000 asking price.

  2. By 1932, virtually all singing in films was pre-recorded, and the fact that Zeppo's singing voice was markedly different than how he normally talked was I think it's understandable that some might think it's not him.

    1. I had never even thought for once that it wasn't Zeppo singing in Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. But after knowing about this theory, I've given the matter some thoughts, and I must say: I'm convinced that it isn't him. The voice seems clearly lower pitched than Zeppo's. Also, it's obviously a very professional singer: there are no hesitations, the melody is 100% right all the time, and there's even some convicing feeling in the way the lyrics are sung. Nothing to do with Zeppo's non-singing musical bits in Animal Crackers, nor with his Sweet Adeline part in Monkey Business. Completely different stuff.

  3. Of course it's Zeppo singing. What nonsense. And not the good kind.

    For a more respectful analysis of Zeppo, I recommend Ellis, Allen. "'Yes, Sir': The Legacy of Zeppo Marx." _The Journal of Popular Culture_, Vol. 37, Issue 1, 2003, pp. 15-27.

  4. Very entertaining podcast again! I enjoyed all the banter about Zeppo for a change. When he wears glasses (the image above) he looks more like his brother Julius.

  5. I actually just re-listened to this episode! Really! And my comment regarding where Zeppo got his name - I like Maxine's story about "Zeke" and "Zep". Not necessarily saying it's the true account, but I like it!


Episode 50: The Gods Look Down and Laugh (Our Animal Crackers Deep Dive featuring Heidi Gassel)

Not every Marx Brothers fan would name  Animal Crackers  when asked which film is their favorite, but as it happens, all three of your hosts...