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Harpo Marx
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Harpo Marx

Adolph Arthur Marx, known as Harpo Marx, (November 23, 1888 - September 28, 1964) was one of the Marx Brothers. His trademarks were that he never talked in any of the Marx brothers films, that he played the harp, and that he frequently used props in sight gags — for instance, in one film he pulls a candle burning at both ends from inside his coat.

In January of 1910, Harpo joined two of his brothers to form The Three Nightingales. When the Marx Brothers were playing in vaudeville, Harpo was inspired to develop his "silent" routine after reading a review of one largely ad-libbed performance. The theater critic wrote, "Adolph Marx performed beautiful pantomime which was ruined whenever he spoke".

He taught himself to play the harp, and played it in an unconventional manner with an idiosyncratic tuning of the strings. While he later learned that he did not play the instrument in the accepted manner, his fame with the instrument drew musicians from all around to learn his style.

Harpo changed his name to Arthur during World War I because he thought Adolph was "too German".

Harpo married actress Susan Fleming on September 28, 1936. The couple adopted four children (Bill, Alex, Jimmy and Minnie.)

Harpo was good friends with theater critic Alexander Woollcott and because of this became a regular member of the Algonquin Round Table. Harpo, who was quiet in his personal life, said his main contribution was to be the audience of that group of wits.

In 1955, Harpo made a memorable appearance on Lucille Ball's popular sitcom, I Love Lucy.

In 1961, Harpo published his autobiography, Harpo speaks. In it he took pains to tell people he really could talk. Many people believed he was actually mute. In fact, recordings of his voice can be found on the Internet. In one story, he had a fairly distinguished voice like a professional announcer, though he did say "goils" for "girls." His name, of course, is derived from the fact he played the harp.

On September 28, 1964, Harpo died after open heart surgery.