Q&A with Bill Marx, Son of Harpo

Ten Questions for Bill Marx, author of Son of Harpo Speaks! from Out of the Past blog

What is your favorite memory of your dad, Harpo Marx?

I have no real singular “favorite” memory of dad. He always made you feel comfortable with him, even on the occasion when he was angry with my behavior. (Of course, those times were fortunately very rare…heh, heh). So really, all of my memories are all my “favorites” because if you knew him, there were no surprises. Whatever it was, he always came straight from his heart. I suppose my most ingrained image of him was the vision of him after breakfast, practicing his music in front of the living room bay window, his harp resting gently on his shoulder as he transported himself to his other kind of surreal world.

Out of all or your famous uncles, who were you the most close to and why?

Gummo was the easiest to be with. He was soft spoken and pretty mellow. Groucho was the most intriguing of my uncles because he was a very unpredictable character. You had to be on your game at all times with Groucho. Though I toured with Chico and dad when I was but twelve, I believe maybe because of the 50 year generation gap between us, he was more or less indifferent to me, as he was usually in his own world with his peers, and rarely in good health, except when re-energized by any available Gin or Poker game. Zeppo, too, was usually in his own world with his peers and was difficult to get to know. However, my mom did have a wonderful relationship with his first wife, Marion.

How did Son of Harpo Marx Speaks! come together and why did you decide to write it?

I wrote Son of Harpo Speaks! for two reasons. Siblings of Groucho’s and Chico had written books about their father, but no one from Harpo’s family had done so. I thought it was time to complete the trifecta. Yes, there are new stories about the Marx Brothers never before published, and the close father/son and professional relationship dad and I shared together. But the book has another story that I hope people find very compelling; that of the “too Hollywood to believe” way I came to become a part of Harpo’s and Susan’s lives. I chose to write about that only after mom’s passing in 2002, carefully respecting her lifetime role as my mom, the parent. It is a weird story about rejection, abandonment, adoption, and acceptance that I believe many can relate to and understand the accompanying feelings attached to these issues that can affect a lifetime of one’s behavior.

Read the last seven questions and answers on Out of the Past blog…


Son of Harpo Speaks!, in addition to offering a unique perspective of a very special man and revealing many stories never before in print, is also a book about a “too-Hollywood-to-believe” life-altering quirk of fate that ultimately brought him together with his parents. The background for this remarkable revelation unfolded unassumingly over a glass of wine and some conversation in the famous 1960s nightclub, Dino’s Lodge, on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. It would subsequently lead the author to explore the complex life task of dealing with his emotional scars of rejection and the secure feelings of acceptance, the latter due to his overwhelmingly good fortune of having been adopted by two loving parents.

Available at Amazon, B&N, independent bookstores, and Applausebooks.com.



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on February 10, 2012, in Comedy, Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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