It’s also telling that his treatment of her was merciless, both on screen and off. She was a solid character actress and transitioned into films seamlessly. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
He had respect for many of his colleagues (particularly his writers), and tended to pay them tribute, in his own way. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! There is an art to playing the straight role.
How on earth did I find your wonderful blog and this article on Margaret Dumont? I always suspected that underneath Groucho’s lazy, semi-funny humor there lurked a spirit of unalloyed meanness, and it seems my hunch was correct. Come take a walk with me in Old Hollywood. Thanks for the great choice and engaging post. Laugh at the serious stuff + stare blankly at the jokes, A continuation of moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com...More of my thoughts on movies and pop culture, Smile! Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Stately, imperious comedienne best known as the sophisticated butt of many a star comic's insults and sight gags, especially those of the Marx Brothers. Though allegedly based on the American slang phrase “duck soup,” with a meaning similar to “easy as pie,” Groucho once explained the title: “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. The indispensable Margaret Dumont was born on October 20, 1882. She also moonlighted in vaudeville down the road in Atlantic City, quickly gaining notice as a “statuesque beauty” who could also carry off a quip with grace and ease. Get the freshest reviews, news, and more delivered right to your inbox!
Raquel Torres would like to remind you that Duck Soup is a pre-Code.
That bone structure and the dazzling smile. And I say that as someone who loves his work, and wishes I could love him, as a human being, more…. Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Margaret Dumont captured the bare minimum of necessary reality and did so with grace, enduring insults that would not be out of place in a modern day pick-up artist’s handbook. Nevertheless, Margaret Dumont was an instrumental part of many classic Marx Brothers movies. If Margaret Dumont didn’t get the jokes, it’s not just roles written for characters. Alka-Seltzer is funny. First joining the Marx Bros. on stage in Animal Crackers, Dumont reprised her role in the 1930 film version of the same. He could be a harsh person, that’s for sure.
Born Daisy Baker in 1882, Margaret went into theatre by 1902, where she’s listed as a “vocal comedienne” in programs and directories. Good luck with your report.
I never got to the Cinefest and wish it were still an annual event… I look forward to exploring the link!!
I have a lot of trouble with the Chico and Harpo parts in Duck Soup; Chico doesn’t get as much funny stuff as he should — his delivery on one-liners is excellent — and I loathe Harpo just on general principle.
How late do you stay open?" Her first performance with the Brothers was in the 1925 stage version of The Cocoanuts, and her career was made.
I loved your fascinating piece on Margaret Dumont.
It was cruel, it was self-serving, and it was clearly untrue.
- Mark Twain, Letter to Orion Clemens, February 6, 1861, Making amends, trying to not create new ones. I wrote this a while ago and honestly don’t remember all my sources except that I found them where I usually do, at the Billy Rose Library in Lincoln Center, where I do a lot of my research. Thank you so much for your extremely kind words, David!!
I am setting out to write a paper on Margaret Dumont and would appreciate using some of this information but need the proper citations. Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
She may have been the slightly more glamorous cousin of the battleaxe archetype, but she was also warm, charming, delightful, befuddled, naive and, most of all, humane. She was a fearless spirit.
Don’t forget to reaed my contribution to the blogatthon! Mrs. Emily Upjohn Year of the Month: Jake Gittes on STOP MAKING SENSE, Taco Break: What We Talk About When We Talk About Fear (by Babalugats), Year of the Month: Miller on GONE FISHIN', Film on the Internet: THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, The Untalented Mr. Ripley: The Craft of Standup Comedy and the Non-Comedy of TOM MYERS, B.O.O. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. http://mentalfloss.com/article/61383/fifth-marx-brother. Because she knew exactly what she was doing, that’s why. Dumont was indeed formidable. The pair click with the kind of mythical cinematic chemistry rarely seen in Hollywood. Thank you Aurora, I really appreciate it! So whatever.
She was one great straight. I suggest you watch the Dick Cavett interview, available on YouTube, before you make that assumption. I suppose it’s possible that she just rehearsed enough to wear the laughs out of herself, but who knows?
Susan Marx, Harpo’s widow, who was interviewed for the book, had nothing good to say about him.
And she might just have treated Groucho’s perpetual comment as just one more laugh she could accept in her own inimitable style.
Even one at her own expense. Duck Soup (1933) is a tight little 68 minutes of absurdist, anarchic comedy featuring the Marx Brothers and a cast of constantly befuddled straight men and women. I am attempting to write a paper about Margaret Dumont.
Groucho Marx, Sig Ruman, and Margaret Dumont in A Night at the Opera (1935). Margaret Dumont’s professionalism and skill really shines on the screen.
But even if Groucho thought she’d brought her own, why on earth would he be so nasty as to say so on national television? I prefer to think that Groucho’s ego simply got in the way of him letting go of a great joke: that Dumont was as clueless as her characters. Dumont also made four films with the brothers at MGM: A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), At the Circus (1939), and The Big Store (1941).
This was no dame who just fell off the back of a Bentley. Her last appearance with Groucho was on an episode of the Hollywood Palace — and I understand she was smiling at the old repartee.
Marvelous work, as always, and thank you for participating!
In deriding Dumont as dumb and haughty—even pathetic—Groucho was giving himself full marks as the brains behind their comic chemistry. There's so much to talk about!
I remember a clip of Groucho from some 70s chat show — Dick Cavett, maybe — claiming that Dumont never understood the gags and was always asking, “But Julie, what does it mean?” Which seemed odd, because as you note, she had to go through a dizzying array of facial expressions during their dialogues, and the only reason it was believable that Mrs. Teasdale (Or Rittenhouse, or Claypool, or Upjohn or whatever Society-sounding monicker they’d hung on her) didn’t just stalk off in a huff (or a minute and a huff) at the first whiff of an insult was because, under her stuffy veneer (which like most veneers, was pretty thin) she found Groucho as roguishly charming as we did.
It’s not Mrs. Teasdale and Rufus T. Firefly. And clearly the other comedians appreciated her, as they lined up to work with her!
I definitely agree, she was sharp and professional in film. She’s gotta have a convention.”) She and the Marx Brothers reteamed on stage for Animal Crackers in 1928, and soon after, the whole troupe headed over the 59th Street Bridge to Astoria, Queens to shoot both plays as films for Paramount. Includes bonus art deco set design.
I agree, I think behind the scenes she was probably treated much more nicely, though Groucho was a handful — she probably had to regularly put up with shenanigans. This post is the SBBN entry for the Funny Lady Blogathon, going on now at Movies, Silently. Victory is ours! She sounds like a pretty interesting lady in her own right! The young widow worked steadily on Broadway through the mid-1920s, when playwright George S. Kaufmann fell in love with her portrayal of a flighty matron in The Fourflusher. Hello, sorry I'm just seeing this now.
But while still a teenager, she headed back to New York to take up a life in the theater, first as Daisy Dumont, then as Marguerite, and finally Margaret. Writer Bert Granet noted that he had heard all of the Marx Bros, except maybe Zeppo, had hit on Dumont while filming both Animal Crackers and Duck Soup; he also noted that you could never tell what sort of response you would get from Groucho when you spoke to him. I think she would be one of my guests at a fantasy dinner party – more than Groucho, who would hog the conversation.
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