WBEZ | Marx Brothers http://www.wbez.org/tags/marx-brothers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Marxism on the Grand Boulevard http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/marxism-grand-boulevard-100911 <p><p>Our subject today is the graystone three-flat at 4512 South King Drive.</p><p>The street where the three-flat stands&nbsp;used to be called&nbsp;South Park Way.&nbsp;Before that, in the early 20th Century, it was known as Grand Boulevard.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marx%20Brothers.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Chicago History Happened Here: 4512 S. King Dr." /></div><p>The neighborhood was German-Jewish then.&nbsp;From 1912 through 1920,&nbsp;the building was home to Sam and Minnie Marx and their sons Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton and Herbert.</p><p>The sons&nbsp;are better known by their stage names &ndash; Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo.</p><p>The Marxes were&nbsp;New Yorkers.&nbsp;Sam was an easy-going tailor.&nbsp;Minnie had the brains and brass of the family.&nbsp;A performer herself, she raised her sons for careers in show business.</p><p>During the&nbsp;first years of the new century, when the older boys were teens, they started singing in vaudeville.&nbsp;In 1910 Minnie decided that Chicago would be a more central location for travel on the circuit.&nbsp;So the family moved.</p><p>For&nbsp;two years they all lived in an apartment at 4649 South Calumet Avenue.&nbsp;Late in 1912 Minnie scraped together a $1,000 down-payment for the graystone on the boulevard.&nbsp;The purchase price was $20,000 &ndash; about $450,000 in today&rsquo;s money.</p><p>The mortgage was held by a man named Greenbaum.&nbsp;He became the family bogeyman. Whenever the brothers complained about their hectic life on the road, all Minnie would have to do is say the magic word &ldquo;Greenbaum.&rdquo;&nbsp;Then they&rsquo;d shut up and get back to business.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">By now the oldest brothers were young men.&nbsp;Their act gradually evolved into less singing and more comedy.&nbsp;During these years, when they collected their mail in Chicago, the Marx Brothers developed their familiar stage persona.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marx%20Brothers%2002_0.jpg" title="Chicago Marxism, 1915--Groucho, Gummo, Minnie, Zeppo, Sam, Chico, Harpo (Wikipedia Commons)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Just when the act was becoming successful, America entered World War One.&nbsp;The brothers weren&rsquo;t enthusiastic about getting drafted.&nbsp;But Minnie had read that farmers were exempt from military service.&nbsp;She bought a farm in La Grange, and for a while the very urban Marxes raised chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Gummo was drafted, anyway.&nbsp;He hadn&rsquo;t been much of a performer, and didn&rsquo;t like being on stage, so it was no great loss to the act.&nbsp;In later years he became an agent.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Minnie sold the Grand Boulevard home in 1920.&nbsp;The Four Marx Brothers wanted to develop their act for the Broadway stage, and a move back to New York was in order.&nbsp;When their Broadway shows were successful, movies followed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A few years ago the Goodman Theatre presented a revival of Marx Brothers&rsquo; 1928 stage hit, <em>Animal Crackers</em>. The family&rsquo;s onetime Chicago home, an official city landmark, is a private residence.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It is not known whether the current owner is named Greenbaum.</div></p> Tue, 31 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/marxism-grand-boulevard-100911 The Esquire of Oak Street http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/esquire-oak-street <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="484" height="323" class="size-full wp-image-26169" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//6129888.jpg" alt="" /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">(photo by Lee Bey)</span></p><div>There is a fringe benefit of our current economic downturn: the Esquire Theater--architect William Pereira's chic, but shuttered movie house on Oak Street--is still standing, even if it has been dark for four years. That's because redevelopment plans for the site, which included demolishing the building have not yet come to fruition.<!--break--></div><p>Meanwhile, let's dream a little. If I were Bill Gates-rich, I'd buy the theater and restore the interior to its single-screen Art Moderne glory. The theater was built in 1938, so let's show classic movies from the period in our newly stored gem. I'll start, then its your turn in the comments section: <em>Gilda</em> (1946) starring old school hottie Rita Hayworth:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object width="480" height="385" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="src" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Tzg_1XwzG08&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed width="480" height="385" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Tzg_1XwzG08&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p><p>Alfred Hitchcock's <em>Suspicion</em> (1941)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object width="480" height="385" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="src" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mYG5qbnArEM&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed width="480" height="385" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mYG5qbnArEM&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p><p style="text-align: left;">And for pure nuttiness, The Marx Bros., in <em>The Big Store</em> (1941):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object width="480" height="385" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="src" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/u3BQ2SwGG40&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed width="480" height="385" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/u3BQ2SwGG40&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p><p style="text-align: left;">Your turn.</p></p> Tue, 15 Jun 2010 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/esquire-oak-street