The Marx family grew up on East 93rd Street off Lexington Avenue in a neighborhood now known as Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The turn-of-the-century building that Harpo called “the first real home they ever knew” (in his memoir Harpo Speaks) was populated with European immigrants, mostly artisans – who even included a glass blower. Just across the street were the oldest brownstones in the area, owned by people such as the well-connected Loew Brothers and William Orth.
Groucho’s parents were Minnie Schoenberg Marx and Sam Marx (called “Frenchie” throughout his life). Minnie’s brother was Al Schoenberg, who shortened his name to Al Shean when he went into show business as half of Gallagher and Shean, a noted vaudeville act of the early 20th century. According to Groucho, when Shean visited he would throw the local waifs a few coins so that when he knocked at the door he would be surrounded by adoring fans. Marx and his brothers respected his opinions… read more