Marx (October 23, 1892 - April 21, 1977), known as Gummo, was one
of the Marx Brothers. Born in New York City, he worked with his brothers
on the vaudeville circuit, but left acting when he was drafted into
the U.S. Army during World War I; he was the only Marx Brother to
have served in the military.
His military service began shortly before the Armistice and he was
therefore never sent overseas.
After leaving the army, Gummo went into the dressmaking
business. Later he joined with his brother Zeppo Marx and operated
a theatrical agency. After that collaboration ended, Gummo represented
his brother Groucho Marx and worked on the television show The Life
of Riley, which he helped develop. He also represented other on-screen
talent and a number of writers.
Gummo was well respected as a businessman. He rarely
had contracts with those he represented, his philosophy being that,
if they liked his work, they would continue to use him, and if not,
they would seek representation elsewhere. Unlike his brothers, his
social life involved primarily business people.
Gummo was given his nickname because he had a tendency to be sneaky
backstage, and creep up on others without them knowing (like a gumshoe).
Another explanation cited by biographers and family members is that
Milton, being the sickliest of the brothers, often wore rubber overshoes,
also called "gumshoes," to protect himself from taking
sick in inclement weather. Three of his brothers (Groucho, Chico,
and Harpo) were given their nicknames during a card game at the
Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg, Illinois, and the names stuck for
their entire lives.
died on April 21, 1977, in Palm Springs, California His death
was not reported to Groucho, who by that time had become so ill
and weak that it was thought the news would be of further detriment
to his health. Groucho would die four months later.
grandsons are actors Gregg Marx and Brett Marx. His granddaughter
is Laura Guzik.
In the Jasper Fforde novel The Fourth Bear, there is a brief reference
to GummoWorld, an amusement park dedicated to Gummo Marx.
In the Woody Allen film Stardust Memories, a woman at a film festival
is referred to as having written the definitive filmography of Gummo
Marx. As another enthusiast then observes, this is strange, as Gummo
never appeared in a single film.
The 1997 Harmony Korine film Gummo was named after Gummo Marx, and
there is one reference to his comedic style in a scene of the film.