Weird News: Groucho vs. Elvis, Who's More Important?

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Lydia the Tattooed Stock Broker In recent weeks, so many Americans lost fortunes on Wall Street. Perhaps they can take some comfort in Groucho, who was cleaned out in the great stock market crash of 1929.

An extremely frugal man, Groucho saved for years, but weathered three costly divorces after the stock market crash. As he would say, "I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty."

Years later, in the 1950s, he was invited to take a tour of the New York Stock Exchange. Suddenly, while in the observation booth, he grabbed the public address system and began singing "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Trading stopped, as a sergeant at arms tried to wrest control of the microphone.

"Listen, you crooks," Groucho yelled out to the trading floor. "You wiped me out of $250,000 in 1929. For that kind of dough, I'm entitled to sing if I want to."

So, for about 15 minutes, trading came to a halt, as Groucho got his money's worth, singing, dancing and telling jokes, as the Wall Street stock ticker ran blank and traders cheered.

Equal Opportunity Offender More often than not, Groucho was a man of inspired nonsense. This is a man who once shot an elephant in his pajamas. How the elephant got in his pajamas, we'll never know.

And this self-educated, voracious reader became one of America's greatest wits. "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend," Groucho said. "Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

By the time he was emceeing the game show You Bet Your Life on radio and TV, contestants were lining up to subject themselves to Groucho's abuse, and he was an equal opportunity offender.

He once asked a tree surgeon, "Have you ever fallen out of a patient?" He told an author, "It won't do you any good to plug your book on my show, because none of our listeners can read."

Groucho, it seemed, could say anything to anybody, and he couldn't be flattered.

"Mr. Marx, I'd like to thank you for all the joy that you've put into this world," a Catholic priest once said.

"And I'd like to thank you for all the joy you've taken out of this world," Groucho replied.

Even when he won a prestigious Peabody Award for being Radio's Best Comedian of the Year in 1949, Groucho disparaged George Foster Peabody, in whose honor the award was named. "It's a good thing he died," he said, "or we wouldn't have won any prizes."