The Late Movies: Harpo Marx, Harpist

Chris Higgins

Harpo Marx, the "silent" Marx brother, was a phenomenal self-taught harpist -- hence the nickname. (His given name was Adolph, later Americanized to Arthur.) Today I saw a clip of Harpo playing "Blue Moon" quite brilliantly, and thought I'd dig in to find some other performances -- and I was really pleased by what I found. Let's take a look at that clip and a few others, to remember what a terrific harpist Harpo was. For some background on how Harpo learned to play and his position in the harp world, read this account by his son or this article with some more technical details.

"Blue Moon"

From At the Circus, which is better known (to me, at least) for Groucho's rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady." But, boy, this is great.

"Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2"

A little Liszt to flesh out this list.

With Chico

This hilarious snippet starts off showing Chico's talents on the piano, from A Day at the Races. The middle section of this video is a pretty good argument for building sturdier pianos, and the transition to harp around 4 minutes in is a hoot. Apparently Harpo was also self-taught on piano and several other instruments.

Monkey Business

"O Sole Mio" and "I'm Daffy Over You" from Monkey Business. Love the hat bit at the end.


The video quality is poor, but you get the idea.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

Remember when Harpo was on I Love Lucy? Now you will: