Four of the Three Musketeers
The Marx Brothers on Stage
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
544 Pages, 7.00 x 10.00 in, 78 b-w images
- Published: October 2016
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 also 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 will take its place as an essential reference for this iconic American act.
“A new benchmark in Marx scholarship.” —Los Angeles Times
"I don’t know what this guy [Bader] was thinking, that he would spend this much time and do this much work on the Marx Brothers. He did the most incredible job of research, and he’s also a very good writer. And to me, the history of the Marx Brothers is kind of the invention of comedy, not just as a substance but as a business." —Jerry Seinfeld
"Who would have dreamed that there could be much, much more to learn in still another book about the Marx Brothers? Not I. And yet, Robert Bader—focusing on the under-researched vaudeville days of the hilarious siblings—has gone where no man went before, discovering a treasure trove of Marxiana to delight the hearts and minds of those of us who can never get enough." —Dick Cavett
"I have read virtually every book ever published about the Marx Brothers. I have even written about them myself. Robert Bader’s book is a revelation." —Leonard Maltin, author of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and The Great Movie Comedians
"In discussing the brothers' personal and professional accomplishments, Bader gives each man his due individual and group justice. Dozens of good books have been written on these brothers...and Bader's rich volume joins those." —CHOICE
"In Four of the Three Musketeers Robert S. Bader shows that Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo had nothing on Minnie Marx—the booster, nag and agent who set them on their way to fame." —Wall Street Journal
"A book that no devoted Marx Brothers fan should be without… Four of the Three Musketeers is a fascinating, indispensable book that details the evolution of one of the greatest comedy teams as they went through a long, bumpy trial by fire." —Montreal Times