Harpo Marx Papers, ca. 1900-1964 (bulk 1930s-1964)
Marx, Harpo 1888-1964
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell) 1891-1986
Truman, Harry S. 1884-1972
Woollcott, Alexander 1887-1943
Warren, Earl 1891-1974
Marx, William Woollcott
7 cu. ft. : 7 boxes
Arthur "Harpo" Marx was the silent, harp-playing member of the Marx Brothers. His performing career---with and without the Brothers--mirrored the development of 20th century American popular entertainment, beginning in vaudeville and running through Broadway theater, Hollywood film, radio, and television.
The collection contains correspondence, photographs and photograph albums, scrapbooks, scripts, original music manuscripts, business records, and audio discs. The correspondence mostly consists of letters and telegrams between Marx and his close friend, theater critic Alexander Woollcott; the original letters from Woollcott are included but the letters Marx wrote to Woollcott are photocopies. Other letters are from famous people such as Harry Truman, Averell Harriman, Earl Warren and others.The albums include some original photographs, though most are copies. These include family photographs of the Brothers' parents and extended family, some childhood photographs, and photographs from the Vaudeville era. The scrapbook kept by the Brothers' mother, Minnie Palmer, contains advertisements for their appearances at theaters and some other ephemeral items. Much of the collection relates to Harpo Marx's life after the Brothers broke up their movie act. He became quite wealthy through investments in oil and orange groves and other things, and there are a lot of papers relating to those investments, also to income from royalties on the movies, and income from television or night club appearances, and contracts for these appearances. Much of the collection relates to Chico Marx, including some photographs and music manuscripts, including parts for various instruments. There are a handful of music charts that Harpo's son Bill created to enable them to play duets (Bill played piano) because Harpo couldn't read music. Includes are a large number of printed materials, such as articles about the Marx Brothers and about Harpo Marx, many of them from after his death; and advertisements featuring Harpo Marx.
Harpo Marx Papers, ca. 1900-1964 (bulk 1930s-1964), Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of William Woolcott Marx
2012.3102 (NMAH Acc.)
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves