cover of book

Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage
by Robert S. Bader
Northwestern University Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-8101-3416-4 | Paper: 978-0-8101-4575-7
Library of Congress Classification PN2297.M3B33 2016
Dewey Decimal Classification 792.70280922


An updated paperback version of the book heralded as “a new benchmark in Marx scholarship” by the Los Angeles Times

Before film made them international comedy legends, the Marx Brothers developed their comic skills on stage for twenty-five years. In Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage, Robert S. Bader offers the first comprehensive history of the foursome’s hardscrabble early years honing their act in front of live audiences.

From Groucho’s debut in 1905 to their final live performances of scenes from A Night in Casablanca in 1945, the brothers’ stage career shows how their characters and routines evolved before their arrival in Hollywood. Four of the Three Musketeers draws on an unmatched array of sources, many not referenced elsewhere. Bader’s detailed portrait of the struggling young actors both brings to vivid life a typical night on the road for the Marx Brothers and illuminates the inner workings of the vaudeville business, especially during its peak in the 1920s.

As Bader traces the origins of the characters that would later come to be beloved by filmgoers, he also skillfully scrapes away the accretion of rumors and mythology perpetuated not only by fans and writers but by the Marx Brothers themselves. Revealing, vital, and entertaining, Four of the Three Musketeers has taken its place as an essential reference for this legendary American act. Now, the updated edition adds newly discovered performances—some submitted by readers—and additional information provided by descendants of long-departed vaudevillians mentioned in the book.

See other books on: Comedians | Comedy | Jewish Studies | Stage | Vaudeville
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