MAD Marxness

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The Marx Brothers
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The pages under www.marx-brothers.org/whyaduck/ were originally created by Frank Bland for his site www.whyaduck.com.

The Three Marx Brothers at the Rotten Circus.

Send Above Image as a Why A Duck? Postcard

Since about 1954, the Marx Brothers have made a fair number of appearances in the pages of Mad Magazine. In 1999, Mad released a collection of all issues through December 1998 on CD ROM and thus was Totally Mad born. As near as I can tell the title has gone out of print. At least its "official site" has nothing to offer but links to Warners and no information on how to purchase. However, it's still relatively common and easy to get at the usual places (e.g., eBay, Amazon, etc.) for $30 or less (CHEAP!). Anyway, after getting a copy, one of the first things I tried was an extensive search using the CD collection's excellent keyword search and turned up many references to the brothers, both individually and as a group. More often than not these images were part of the background or used for a visual gag secondary to the story, but sometimes the brothers were at the center of the story.

I immediately shot off an email to the folks who created the CD, asking if I could use selected images from the CD ROM collection on my Marx Brothers web site... No reply. So I wrote a snail letter to the magazine itself... Again, no reply. Well, I'm not one to take "no reply" for an answer, so I decided to go ahead with it anyway, figuring if E.C. and Warners want to go after a fershlugginer web monkey like myself they can have at it. (Understanding, of course, that I'm not making any money off this particular feature, okay guys?)

Anyway, in hopes of placating them somewhat, here's the first copyright notice for your enjoyment:

All images presented herein are the sole property of <STRONG><A HREF=http://www.warnerbros.com/web/madmagazine/home.jsp>Mad</A></STRONG>. Copyright (C) 1999 by E.C. Publications, Inc.

Since I can't think of any more logical method of presentation, I'm going to show these to you in chronological order. As I mentioned before, the search engine included in this 7-CD set is exhaustive -- to the point that it sometimes points out Marx Brothers references where they don't actually exist. F'rinstance, I threw out any appearances of ambiguous-looking gents with glasses, moustache and cigar as not representing Groucho unless I was relatively sure by the context that this was the case. And a word to the Zeppo and Gummo fans out there: I'm afraid these two never appeared in the pages of Mad. NB: These files cover up to two pages and can sometimes be pretty large.

One more thing. While I thought I caught every reference (even some that didn't exist), I have found that the guys who fed the search engine missed at least one (it took a Marx mailing list member to point it out to me). So if you know of any reference to the Marxes I haven't included here, please send email to madmarxness@whyaduck.com. (You can also send any questions or comments to this address. Anyway, here goes...

The 1950s

  • In 1925, Harpo was the first Marx Brother to appear in a commercially-released film called "Too Many Kisses." In 1954 he became the first of the brothers to appear in an issue of Mad Magazine. See if you can spot him in the opening panel from Mad's cop show parody...

  • The second Marx appearance in Mad was not by a brother at all. Join us in a game of duck hunt in the Sherlock Holmes spoof...

  • Groucho made his first appearance in the background of a TV show broadcast from a popular New York joint...

  • Groucho shows some unusual political affiliations as we find him on the back cover of Mad in attendance at a rally promoting...

  • For the first time on the pages of Mad, The Three Marx Brothers appeared together, once again in the company of...

  • Groucho joins a cavalcade of stars to demonstrate why...

  • Join us at the same party, two months later and play...

  • Henry Morgan introduces his new act, The Marx Brothers, in...

  • You Bet Your Life is sent up as Mad asks...

  • Find Groucho among the happy, peppy people who have embraced...

  • Groucho had his one-and-only starring role in a full-length Mad strip as the coach of the NBC baseball team playing against Phil Silvers and the CBS bunch in...

The 1960s

  • Groucho helps the public economize on medical treatment as Mad asks what would happen...

  • Mad jumps on the bandwagon, casting Groucho and others as cute furry animals in...

  • Mad wonders what the results would be...

  • See if you can find two (count 'em) references to Groucho in an excerpt from Gerald Gardner's cold-war rib-tickler...

  • Try to track down a classic Marxist site gag nestled within Mad's...

  • Harpo finds himself on the panel of a TV quiz show as Mad looks into...

The 1970s

  • Mad has John Lennon made up like Groucho in the musical...

  • Mad notices an upswing in the disposable income of radicals as it ponders what will happen...

  • Streisand gets her signals crossed at a certain costume party in the Mad parody...

  • To see how detailed the keyword search is in Totally Mad, check out a passing reference to the Marxes in...

  • Groucho's picture ends up in the strangest places. Such as in this scene from...

  • Groucho makes a cameo as a passenger on a train in...

  • Groucho is, as usual, misquoted in this scene from...

  • Just a quick reference to Harpo in a ho-hum parody of a useless movie. No need to move over, Mr. Jordan, because...

The 1980s

  • See if you can guess the reference as Mad takes its gloves off and trashes M*A*S*H in...

  • Groucho goes back to high school, a lampshade where his fez used to be, in...

  • What better place to find a Marxist reference or two (thanks, Ira, for finding them for me) than in a Woody Allen movie parody, namely...

  • Groucho shows up as graffiti in an opera house, of all places, as Mad presents...

The 1990s

  • The Marxes are given the appreciation they deserve as they wind up on top of the heap in...

  • A Mad first! Two Marx references in one issue! As usual, Groucho's image appears plastered on some commie's wall; this time in Mad's movie sendup...

  • As it turns out, Groucho is not only a cultural icon; he's also a religious icon in this Mad TV parody...

  • Groucho shows up in advertising as Mad ponders what would happen...

  • Who looks like a muscle-bound hulk, acts like Robin Williams and does Groucho impressions? Well it ain't...

  • This is a personal favorite. Not only is it a fine sendup, but it features the one and only reference to Margaret Dumont in the pages of Mad through 1998 (I checked). Plus, the Mad "Dept." is such a dynamite pun, it would've been a much better title for the series than...

  • Finally, Mad invokes the spirit of Groucho in this sendup of a comic strip, where Mad asks...

Well, that's it. It's fitting to note that the last reference to the Marxes on this CD-ROM collection happened to appear in the final magazine in the collection. This bodes well for further appearances of the Marxes in the pages of this most enjoyable magazine.
 

©1995-2006, Frank M. Bland

The pages under www.marx-brothers.org/whyaduck were originally created by Frank Bland for his site www.whyaduck.com. Frank did kindly give me permission to use the contents of his site.

If you find text referring to "I" or "me" on pages under www.marx-brothers.org/whyaduck, this will usually refer to Frank.