By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“Dude,” a guy asks, “who’s the author of the Bible?”
Twenty minutes and holding. I’ve set up camp underneath a picture of Stephen King, who’s smiling his trademark doughboy-meets-psycho smile. Two girls in pajamas wander in and wish they’d gotten there earlier — sorry, all the tickets to buy Harry Potter are gone. Come back next week. Oh, the horror. The girls look around frantically. We who have tickets clutch them even tighter. Harry Potter is about standing your ground. At midnight the final countdown begins:
“Ten — Nine — Eight —” How will
“Seven — Six — Five —” How will
“Four — Three — Two — One — Happy Harry Potter Day!” we scream, and the coveted Book 5 is in hand. “That’ll be $29.99 plus tax,” says the salesclerk with a flourish, and then asks the magic question: “Now . . . will that be cash or credit?”
Marx A Lot: A Night at the Cabaret
Last Tuesday, Gregg Marx’s mellow, eclectic cabaret show, “Wet Night, Dry Martini — Love, Shaken . . . Stirred . . . and on the Rocks,” opened at Feinstein’s at the Cinegrill. And if anyone ever doubted whether Gregg Marx was one of those Marxes — as in Groucho, Harpo, et al. — an audience roll call would settle the matter. There was dad Bob, son of Gummo, plus sister Laura Guzik, the costume supervisor for Dumb and Dumberer, The Nanny and other film and TV hits. There was handsome, suntanned, silver-haired Uncle Bill, Harpo’s son, in from Palm Springs. Cousin Jade, granddaughter of Groucho and an aspiring actress, burst in like a giant poinsettia, attired all in flaming red, from the flower in her long, dark hair to her slinky dress, shawl and heels.
And then there were the Gildas. In a strange twist of fate, or perhaps the result of a deep-seated obsession with Rita Hayworth on the part of his father, Gregg Marx’s mom and stepmom are both named Gilda. The former, Gilda Block, was Bob’s high school sweetheart; the latter is famed designer Gilda Marx. Add piles of old family friends and other distant relatives and you would have thought it was a bar mitzvah.
It’s not impossible that The Brothers were there too. A few days before, Gregg Marx had an odd little experience. He was getting into his car when the horn suddenly tooted. All by itself. Then it did it again. And again. Could it possibly be . . . Harpo?
Had this ever happened to anybody else in the family?
“Can’t say it has,” shrugged Bob, an obvious skeptic.
“Not that I remember,” mused Bill. “But if he was playing anything, it should have been his harp. He’s certainly in heaven, because he was as great a man who ever walked on this planet.”
So did the mute Marx brother ever talk? “Only when he had something to say!” ‰ said Bill, laughing. “And then, you listened! You know, he was very soft-spoken and gentle. But he could cut through any conversation, straight to the core of the issue.”
As for Gummo, said Bob, “He was very kind, very low-key. Did you know that he had the biggest agency in Hollywood? It was so big that when he sold it, the government made him split it up. So one-half went to MCA and one to William Morris. Here’s something you won’t believe: Nobody ever signed a contract with him. It was all done on a handshake. That’s how honest he was.”
“My grandfather was very elegant and genteel,” Laura Guzik remembered. “The Chasen’s type all the way.”
The younger generation has virtually no memory of Chico, who died in 1961. And any recollections of Groucho are at best dim. “I met him a few times,” said Laura. “I don’t remember much about him, other than he was very nice.”
“I just remember being held by him,” added Jade.
The show started up. From their table, the Marx family cheered and whistled. Gregg Marx, a well-built man of 48 who looks 35, and whom soap fans remember from his Emmy-winning role as Tom Hughes on As the World Turns, sang about love. Love lost, love found, love unrequited. It was obvious from the moment he opened his mouth that he had The Gift — a combination of physical exuberance, rich musicality and personal warmth that seems to run in the Marx blood.
There were great old songs by Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer. There were great new songs by Ray Jessel and Cynthia Thompson, Ken Hirsch and Lindy Robbins. Marx paid homage to the Brothers with a delicious rendition of “A Message From the Man in the Moon,” from A Day at the Races. And, in a shining impromptu moment, Uncle Bill, a pianist who has a devoted following in Palm Springs, ascended the stage to accompany his nephew at the shiny Baldwin grand, exhibiting an incredible command of the keyboard.
“Bill is a brilliant composer and pianist,” Gilda Marx whispered. “He studied at Juilliard. We were at Barbara Sinatra’s a few weeks ago — she was married to Zeppo before Frank, you know — and she said, ‘Bill’s the best pianist I know. They don’t come any better.’ Coming from her, I call that a compliment!”
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