Conversations By Marx: A desert dessert

Harpo Marx
Harpo Marx



So this was out in the high desert just after dinner with the son of Harpo and Susan Marx telling us one of his parents’ favorite jokes.

Bill Marx, now in his 70s, pianist by profession, twinkle in his eye by lifestyle, had just hosted “Marx Madness” — an evening at the Rancho Mirage Public Library in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Marx Brothers’ first appearance on stage. We sat at a long table in the back room of what was formerly Bing Crosby’s restaurant. Now its an Old Spaghetti Factory across Highway #111 just inside Palm Desert.

Bill’s sister Minnie Susan Marx, now Minnie Susan Marx Eagle, was here, too. Along with two of her grandchildren visiting from Orange County, as well as a journalist who came  from Toronto and a funny woman named Trudy who came all the way from England for the event, where everyone sang old funny songs and Bill showed home movies featuring Groucho with children in Beverly Hills with nothing but farmland around, and Harpo and his children at 701 N. Canon — and other goofy stuff for a few hours. Also around this grand groaning board were Paul G. Wesolowski, editor of the Freedonia Gazette in Free Hope PA, comedy writer David Misch author of Funny: The Book and a panelist with me at “Marx Madness,” as well as seminal biographer of the Brothers (and of Walter Lantz, too!), Joe Adamson. Plus, Gummo Marx’s son Bob Marx, and also across from me, Robert S. Bader, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Robert is an archivist of mucho Marxian memorabilia and author of the upcoming book about this very stage career we’ve been celebrating tonight: Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage.

Now Harpo’s son Bill stood up at the end of the table, telling us this joke.  He said his mother Susan Marx loved to tell the children this one, about three guys in a mental hospital who are offered the chance to get out, if they can answer the question:

“What is 3 times 3?”

“270!” says the first guy.

“No, sorry,” says the hospital administrator who is administering the test.

“Tuesday!” says the second guy.

“Sorry,” the hospital head says again.

Finally, he asks the third guy: “What is 3 times 3?”

“3 times 3 is 9.”

The administrator is amazed. “Okay,” he tells the patient. “You can leave the hospital now. Oh by the way, how did you know that?”

“Simple,” says the patient. “I just took 270 and divided by Tuesday.”



Chico, Brecho & Harpo (1939)


LINKS to authors mentioned above

Bill Marx

Bill Marx’s Harpo family site:

Robert S. Bader

Joe Adamson

David Misch

Freedonia Gazette and all things Marx Brothers:

The Chico, Harpo, Groucho Society who put on “Marx Madness” event

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of