The Marx Brothers, Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton and Herbert (Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo) were born in Yorkville in Manhattan’s Upper East Side from 1887-1901, and the family resided at 179 East 93rd Street during their boyhood.
The brothers were showbiz veterans (Chico, the oldest brother, was in his mid-thirties) by the time the family bought this house at 87-48 134th Street just south of Jamaica Avenue in the early 1920s. They began as vocalists and instrumentalists on the vaudeville circuit as early as 1905, when Julius Marx (Groucho) was fifteen; Herbert (Zeppo) was the last brother to join his brothers onstage in 1915. By the 1920s their familiar stage personas, as well as their nicknames, had been established; Broadway beckoned with “I’ll Say She Is” in 1924, and Paramount Pictures in 1929 with an adaptation of playwright George S. Kaufman’s “The Cocoanuts.” Chico, Harpo and Groucho made a string of highly successful movies until 1949, and Groucho was a TV staple until his death in 1977. Gummo and later, Zeppo tired of showbiz and both had retired from the act by the mid-1930s.
The Three Stooges, who were more of a slapstick act than the Marxes (though a look at any Marx Brothers film has its share of visual gags and pratfalls) had a presence in Brooklyn and had built houses in Bensonhurst before their own stage and film success took off.