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November 28, 2023

Alice Cooper and Groucho Marx: An Unlikely Friendship

A little background on Groucho: he was born Julius Henry Marx on October 2, 1890. He is considered one of the best comedians of his time. His many trademarks include his cigar, glasses and greasepaint eyebrows and mustache. He was famous for the work he did with his brothers as as his solo work, especially as the host of long-running radio-turned-television game show You Bet Your Life.

It was Groucho who dubbed Alice’s horror-comedy concerts “vaudeville,” a classification Alice immediately knew was right.

“Groucho,” Alice Cooper said, “came to the show and said, ‘Oh, vaudeville.’ Before that everybody said ‘shock rock,’ and ‘theatrical rock’ and ‘glam rock.’ When Groucho said, ‘vaudeville,’ I said, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what it is.’”

Groucho called him ‘Coop,’ the way Groucho had called Gary Cooper “Coop,” and it stuck.

They met while dueting on “Lidia the Tattooed Lady” at a Frank Sinatra birthday party. They became friends while living in Beverly Hills. Groucho had insomnia and would call Coop at 1 a.m. to hang out.

“He had a chair next to his bed with a six pack of Budweiser, and we would sit and watch old movies. And then pretty soon, after about two movies were over, I’d look over and he’d be in his beret and his cigar and he’d finally go to sleep. I’d put out his cigar, turn out the lights and go home. And the next night, one o’clock in the morning: ‘Hey coop, can’t sleep, come on over.’”

Groucho took his friends to Coop’s concert, from George Burns to Jack Benny and Mae West. Ballet dancers in Coop’s show, performing as skeletons, would look over and see Fred Astaire on the side of the stage.

None of them needed earplugs.

A year after Groucho died from pneumonia Alice commemorated him by buying the “O” from the famous Hollywood sign after they were put up for auction in order to raise money to buy new letters. He is also featured on Alice’s 1974 Greatest Hits album cover.

(via Las Vegas Review-Journal)


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