Harpo Speaks! Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Harpo Speaks!

Harpo Marx writes of his life before, during, and after he and his brothers became famous, with lovely and humorous stories and anecdotes. He tells of growing up in a rough neighborhood and being poor, being bullied and dropping out of school, teaching himself to read, write, tell time, and to play the piano and harp, as well as other things. He also speaks of his relationship with his family, and how he was particularly close to his mother and brother Leonard (Chico), whith whom he was closest in age.
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There are tales of his antics on and off stage, how hard he and his brothers worked to get where they were, and what he thought of everything and everyone he worked with. He was truly gifted and a very talented man. He also speaks of the deaths of his mother, Minnie, and father, Sam, and how they affected him.

It also reveals his friendships and hardships in show business and of his marriage to his wife Susan Flemmings. They adopted four children and he eventually built a ranch where they all lived with many animals including horses, dogs, cats, hamsters, an aviary of birds, and a seagull with an injured wing. He also tells us how he achieved his dream of having a smiling face in every window of the house to greet him when he came home.
The review of this Book prepared by Patti Ford

"Harpo Speaks" is the autobiography of Harpo Marx, the silent comedian of The Marx Brothers fame. Starting with events close to his birth in 1893, Harpo goes on to tell of his journey from poor student to famous movie personality. Harpo writes hilarious anecdotes regarding his schooling, his many different occupations, and the people with whom he shared the spotlight. He also accounts for his family's successes and sorrows in the vaudeville circuit and their rise to fame in the movies. He also writes about making the movies he is most famous for.
Fortunately, this book also details a lot of his private life, including the events surrounding meeting his wife and having children. It also details the enormous love and brotherhood he shares with his brothers, and the close friendships he forged. Written in 1961, this book was written not too long before his death, and covers the vast majority of his life.

The review of this Book prepared by Louisa Eggleton

Harpo's delightful autobiography tells of his life from childhood through the years of fame & fortune, including insights into his socialising at the famous Algonquin with greats such as Dorothy Parker. An honest & straightfoward autobiography with the sweet silly humour you would expect from Harpo.
The review of this Book prepared by Claire Baldwin

Chapter Analysis of Harpo Speaks!

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   actor/actress Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Kind of living:    -   general poverty story Story of entertainer?    -   Movie Comedy Actor Period of greatest activity?    -   1900+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer Ethnicity    -   Jew Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   California Century:    -   1900-1920's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   very happy    -   like laughing Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A ton 16-20 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   51%-75% of book

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