Saturday, November 7, 2020

Groucho Marx's Copy of "The Butter and Egg Man" by George S. Kaufman

"Groucho Marx is the only actor I ever allowed to ad-lib in a show I wrote. That was because I couldn't stop him."
George S. Kaufman on the liner notes of "An Evening With Groucho" (1972)

Frank Ferrante, who provided me with the quotation above, writes about a prized book in his library that once belonged to Groucho Marx:

I have a piece that is particularly special. A 1926 first edition of George S. Kaufman's play "The Butter and Egg Man" [1925]. One of GSK's few solo efforts. Inscribed by George to Groucho. 1925...the year that they collaborated on the Broadway version of "The Cocoanuts." Their first collaboration. Both gents were about 35 years old. (Both wrote pieces for The New Yorker.) Much has been written about their relationship. Many quotes from Groucho referring to GSK as his 'god.' Their synthesis, combined sensibilities, similarities may have shaped and influenced American humor in all media more than any other creative partnership. And still does.

Copyright is 1926. So it was gifted and signed to Groucho during the Broadway run of “The Cocoanuts.” For what it’s worth I portrayed George S. Kaufman and Groucho Marx in one-person stage shows that I also wrote: “By George” and “An Evening With Groucho.”

This book recalls a brief line of Groucho's about Boston that appeared in The New Yorker of April 4, 1925.

Note:  My thanks to Frank Ferrante for going above and beyond

Five years ago, Frank posted different images of this book in The Marx Brothers Council, a private Facebook group. The post may be found here. Members of the group may access this post including the discussion.

Images of items personalized by the hand of George S. Kaufman or Groucho Marx would be considered welcome contributions to future Attempted Bloggery blog posts.

My post from 2015 about The New Yorker's seventh issue (April 4, 1925) is in the archives here.


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