Tagged: Charlie Chaplin Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Charlie Chaplin, , , , Harpo Marx, , Paul Simon, , , silence is golden, silent films, , The Sound of Silence,   


    You sure you can’t move? –what Harpo Marx “said” to the tied-up hero (Richard Dix) before punching him in the 1925 film TOO MANY KISSES (fortunately, the film survived)

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    Italicized above are the only words ever “spoken” (but not heard) on film by the man whose birthday we note today, HARPO MARX. The audience didn’t hear those five words because the film was a “silent” — “talkies” didn’t come on the scene until 1927, two years before the first of thirteen Marx Brothers movies (1929-49). Harpo spoke in none of them.

    But why, oh why-o, should I try-o to “bio” Harpo, when here-o you can click on the official thing from his offspring:


    Because Harpo associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and other wits in the famed Algonquin Round Table repartee, I expected to turn up a number of witty Harpo Marx quotes for this piece. No such luck — I found only one I enjoyed enough to post here (both the “she” referred to in the quote, and who it is addressed to, are unknown):

    “She’s a lovely person. She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one.”

    One quote being three quotes short of a gallon, I shall return to giving you “the silent treatment” with a quota of four quotes of silence said by forethoughtful others:

    “Listen to the sound of silence.” –Paul Simon, American singer, songwriter, and actor

    “Silence is golden unless you have kids, then it’s just plain suspicious.” –anonymous

    “If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, what a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth!” –A. P. Herbert, English humorist, writer, and politician

    “I believe in the discipline of silence and can talk for hours about it.” –George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic

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    Since I didn’t give Harpo the last word, I’ll let him give¬†his audience the last laugh….and though he doesn’t speak, you’ll hear captivating sounds escape his lips 2:42 into this clip:

    Bravo, Harpo!

    EPILOGUE: Listen — 90+ years after the “silents” ended*, you can still hear….

    *with the exception of two Charlie Chaplin masterpieces in the 1930s, CITY LIGHTS and MODERN TIMES

    • calmkate 4:24 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      wow Harpo is actually playing that harp! Love his whistle ūüôā
      SnG’s song is a real favourite … thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:25 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You’re welcome, Kate. I too love Harpo’s whistling in the Marx Brothers Musical clip, and I can’t imagine anyone not loving Simon & Garfunkel’s THE SOUND OF SILENCE (except Trump, who is incapable of appreciating the sound of silence if you paid him).

        Liked by 2 people

        • calmkate 5:09 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          doubt he even knows what ‘silence’ means … not much between his ears except fluffy hair!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Don Ostertag 8:40 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          When i am in a funk I watch a Marx Brothers movie or listen to a favorite song like Sound of Silence.

          Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 7:47 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a HUGE Marx Brothers fan.

      Harpo adopted several children because he and his wife couldn’t have any of their own. His aim was, in his words, when he got home he’d have a child looking at him “from every window”…

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:35 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Likewise about the Marx Brothers. If they had made no other films than A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and DUCK SOUP, they would still be remembered forever (I hope).

        Liked by 2 people

        • masercot 8:32 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          My favorite, not to be contrary, is A Day at the Races. Why? The great jazz number in the middle of the movie as well as the Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream Scene…

          Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:01 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Although Races isn’t my fav Marx Bros. movie, I’m always up for a jazz number, though this one has a very brief “bug-eyed” shot or two that might be regarded as racist today:

        Liked by 1 person

        • masercot 10:15 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I agree with that but I’ll put up with a little light racism to see a wonderful performance by a jazz artist who died far too young…

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 7:40 pm on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I assume you’re referring to vocalist Ivie Anderson, whose gig in this film was one of her rare appearances apart from the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Her performance here (as well as on the many recording she made with the Duke) was indeed wonderful.


    • Rivergirl 8:46 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      My father loved the Marx brothers and I grew up on all the films. Thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:41 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Rg. Now I know (at least part of) why you grew up to be who you are (that’s wholly a compliment, btw).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 9:07 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Amazing to see and hear Harpo playing the harp. Captivating! So much talent!

      Liked by 2 people

    • D. Wallace Peach 9:19 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      ‚ÄúSilence is golden unless you have kids, then it‚Äôs just plain suspicious.‚ÄĚ So true! Lol. Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song from Paul Simon. ūüėÄ

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:49 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        “Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song” — three for the price of one! Who says I don’t offer bargains? Thanks for the testimonial, Diana!

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 3:31 pm on November 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Another big Marx Brothers fan here! Classic laugh fest!

      Liked by 1 person

    • tref 9:43 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Harpo playing the song “Alone” in night at the opera the very height of cinema. I could never grow tired of watching it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:25 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        That is one of many great moments in the movie that I never tire of watching, such as the stateroom scene. The 1930s was truly the height of film making.

        Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 3:57 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Priceless MM. Priceless. continue…


    • mistermuse 9:49 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you. I’d give your comment a Like, but it doesn’t “take” when I click it.


  • mistermuse 12:02 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: actors and actresses, Charlie Chaplin, , , , , , Norma Desmond, screen immortals, , The Little Tramp, the silver screen   


    On August 30, I did a post (titled “MAC”) about the late great actor Fred MacMurray. In recent comments to the MAC post, faithful reader Thom Hickey and I opined that I should publish more posts on actors and actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age, even though most of them are now little remembered, long forgotten, or unheard of. To the point, how many of these once-upon-a-time familiar film faces and names are familiar to you?

    I know not who you know not (above), but I’ve spent some of my happiest hours being entertained (and often drawn in) by such silver screen sorcerers/sorceresses working their magic on my imagination. Watching that clip, it seemed almost unfathomable that nearly all those ‘reel-life’ characters I knew almost as well as I knew real-life family and friends, have gone over THE END. Rapt in their world, how was I to know immortals were mortal?

    So, you can take this as a preview of coming attractions featuring close-ups of some of my favorite stars and character actors from the days when the likes of Charlie Chaplin was The Little Tramp….

    ….and Gloria Swanson was Norma Desmond….

    Are you ready for your close-ups?





    • America On Coffee 12:17 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful. I believe the featured actress is Barbara Stanwyck. I love her.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 12:58 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Likewise. Not only was she one of the most versatile actresses in screen history, but one of the most professional and well thought of.

        Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 2:20 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      what a trip down memory lane … know most of them, but a few I’ve not seen or heard of … I must be younger than you ūüėČ
      Had not realised Charlie was such a good-looker, he always acted the clown so I had no idea!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 8:38 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        ….and yet, that “Remembrance of Classic Hollywood Actors and Actresses” barely began a thoroughgoing trip down that memory lane. For example, what classic movie buff wouldn’t recall the likes of Buster Keaton, Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, The Marx Brothers, Errol Flynn, Charles Laughton, Walter Huston, and so many more. In upcoming posts, I hope to take us a little farther down the road.

        Liked by 3 people

        • calmkate 9:32 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink

          yea, I’m looking forward to it … and please don’t forget Charles Bronson ūüôā

          Liked by 1 person

    • Rivergirl 9:09 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Love classic Hollywood. Such glamour!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 11:57 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Rg. I’ll be sure to include one or more of those Hollywood “glamour girls” in an upcoming post (I’m sure you would qualify if not for the Hollywood part).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rivergirl 4:01 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink

          I always had a soft spot for Rita…

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 6:07 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink

          Did you know that Fred Astaire said Rita Hayworth (not Ginger Rogers) was his favorite dancing partner? She is probably not best remembered for her dancing, but was in fact a superb dancer and starred in two musicals with Astaire.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 10:05 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      A wonderful post. The “Remembrance” video had me smiling, and with tears in my eyes!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 12:00 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I know what you mean, Ashley. It’s sad to think that so many of those who gave us so much joy are gone.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ashley 5:17 am on October 14, 2019 Permalink

          Of course, I am constantly reminded of these old movies since my mother told me where my name came from; I always thought it was something to do with Ash trees (ash trees surrounded by a meadow-a ley) but it turns out that Mum’s favourite film was Gone With the Wind! Thank goodness I wasn’t called Rhett!

          Liked by 2 people

        • mistermuse 4:07 pm on October 14, 2019 Permalink

          If you had been called Rhett, you could always claim the BULER did it (ha ha).

          Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 11:37 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      A lovely trip down memory lane. ūüôā I wonder how many of today’s actors will be as well-remembered?

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 12:12 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Shakespeare (in HAMLET) said, “I shall not look upon his like again.” That’s how I view yesterday’s actors compared with today’s, scifi.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mlrover 8:56 am on October 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Just saw a clip about Audie Murphy. If only people looked up to true heroes like him instead of sports stars. But a man like Audie is so rare. The pain in his eyes from his lifelong struggle with PTSD is haunting. And all through it, he continued to serve. Loved him best in the film The Unforgiven.

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 12:12 pm on October 16, 2019 Permalink

          Sorry to say I haven’t seen The Unforgiven, as (with a few exceptions) I’m not a big fan of westerns. However, I should have made this one of the exceptions, as I notice The Unforgiven was directed by John Huston and has a great cast. My bad.


    • Don Ostertag 4:29 pm on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      One of the little granddaughters asked why I always watched movies with the color turned off.

      Liked by 4 people

    • D. Wallace Peach 4:31 pm on October 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I used to watch Barbara Stanwick in Big Valley. Remember that show? She was the matriarch. Gloria and Charlie not as much, but I remember them. Fun clips.

      Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse 5:26 pm on October 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t watch Big Valley, but I’ve seen many of her movies — some of them (such as THE LADY EVE and REMEMBER THE NIGHT) multiple times. Truly a wonderful actress!


    • Thom Hickey 3:37 pm on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Looking forward to an extensive series!

      Regards Thom

      Liked by 2 people

    • Cheryl Wright 12:17 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Watching the video In Remembrance brought back memories of when I used to watch old movies with my grandmother. She also got me into watching soap operas…lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:34 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Watching soap operas is one habit I never got into….but I did watch many a ‘horse opera’ (western) when I was a kid. Oddly enough, I’ve never heard a fat lady sing in a horse opera, but I have heard many a horselaugh when the fat lady sings in The Marx Brothers At The Opera.


    • Susi Bocks 10:15 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not from that era but I was fortunate to have a step-father who exposed us to a lot of the generations we weren’t a part of. Lovely! ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:38 am on October 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I’m so old, I’m a part of many generations (but ‘apart’ from today’s).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Susi Bocks 11:21 am on October 23, 2019 Permalink

          Sorry to hear that?

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 12:30 pm on October 23, 2019 Permalink

          To clarify, I simply feel that so much of today’s politics and culture are so beyond the pale and so debased, that this generation has become increasingly foreign to the values and ideals we should stand for.


    • Silver Screenings 8:34 pm on November 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m very much looking forward to this series. At some point this weekend, I’m going to settle down with a cup o’ tea and binge read you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:02 pm on November 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Enjoy the multi-post series, SS. You’ll know it’s over when the fat lady sings.


  • mistermuse 12:00 am on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Borscht Belt, , Carl Reiner, , Charlie Chaplin, Dancing In The Dark, , Howard Dietz, , Imogene Coca, Isaac Newton, , , , Sid Caesar, television, , , Your Show of Shows   


    If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. –Sir Isaac Newton

    Comedian Sid Caesar, in his autobiography, CAESAR’S HOURS, quotes¬†the above and adds, “I too stand on the shoulders of giants. Nobody does anything alone.”

    To me,¬†to call Sid Caesar (born 9/8/22) a¬†comedian is akin to calling Newton¬†a physicist¬†— accurate, yes, but hardly adequate.¬†In¬†a down-to-earth way,¬†I might even say that¬†what Newton was to gravity in the 1680s, Caesar was to levity in the 1950s.¬†The¬†bottom line¬†is,¬†I was in my teens¬†then (the 1950s, not the 1680s), and still reasonably sentient at the time; thus I can¬†bear witness¬†to¬†the comic genius that¬†I, as¬†a geezer, still see¬†in Caesar.

    And just who were those giants on whose shoulders Caesar stood? He tells us in his book: “I always wanted to be Charlie Chaplin. He was one of my earliest comedic heroes, along with Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields. Most of their comedy came from their character. They each believed in what they did, and I believed them.”

    Caesar¬†was an up-and-coming comic performing mainly in the so-called Borscht Belt in New York’s Catskill Mountains when this opportunity arose in the infancy of network TV:

    It was¬†called YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, and what an innovative¬†show it was. It premiered live on 2/25/50 with writers like Mel Brooks, Max Liebman (who also produced) and (later) Woody Allen.¬†Said Caesar: “For nine years, I presided over what was arguably the best collection of comedy writers ever assembled in the history of television, and possibly in the history of the written word — unless you think the U.S. Constitution is funny.”

    Add co-stars Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris, and the show was both a commercial and artistic success from Hour One. Here, they show you why:

    Again quoting Caesar: “Until that time, the only big things on television were bowling, wrestling and Charlie Chan. [Max Liebman] wasn’t interested in the American public’s lowest common denominator. He wasn’t going to dumb down.¬†His goal was that the quality of the show would drive its popularity and ultimately elevate taste.”

    As¬†Charlie Chan¬†might say: Noble goal like chasing rainbow —¬†beautiful while it lasts.

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    Originally, I¬†came to this¬†post with the idea of¬†making it a¬†birthday (9/8/1896) tribute to Howard Dietz,¬†one¬†of my favorite lyricists, whose autobiography (titled DANCING IN THE DARK)¬†I also commend.¬†Then I¬†learned that¬†Sept. 8¬†is the birthday of Sid Caesar as well as Howard Dietz, and I thought I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLAN.

    Hold on —¬†it wouldn’t be right¬†not to¬†dance with¬†the¬†dude what brung me, so rather than ditch Dietz,¬†I’ll sing¬†his¬†praises here¬†too….starting with his first big¬†hit¬†(above),¬†then an excerpt from¬†early in the book,¬†closing with a¬†realization of¬†the song which titles his story.

    The following is quoted from the book’s forward by¬†Alan Jay Lerner: As for that quality of life known as charm, I can only shrug sadly and chalk it up as another victim of that creeping nastiness called modern civilization. I think about the man whose reminiscences are contained in this book. They come to mind because of that special gift of charm that is so characteristic of his lyrics. Howard [Dietz]¬† is the Fred Astaire, the Chevalier, the Molnar, the Lubitsch of lyric writers.

    Dancing in the dark
    Till the tune ends
    We’re dancing in the dark
    And it soon ends
    We’re waltzing in the wonder
    Of why we’re here
    Time hurries by we’re here
    And gone

    • scifihammy 2:41 am on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know Sid Caesar too well but I have seen that hilarious clock clip. ūüôā

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ricardo 9:44 am on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Your talent for bringing back things I barely remember from childhood continues unabated, Sr. Muse. My dad was a big fan of “Show of Shows.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 4:31 pm on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I can still remember seeing that Bavarian Clock piece when they first did it in the early 1950s. It made such an impression on me that I still think it ranks as one of the most original and funniest skits ever done on TV….especially when you consider how ‘primitive’ television was back then.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jay 12:17 pm on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Hardly adequate: you’ve got that right.

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 4:39 pm on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      That makes it absolutely certain, because two rights can’t make a wrong. ūüė¶

      Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 8:40 am on September 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I was a little too young for that show and then it didn’t get syndicated, or at least we didn’t see it where I lived. I only heard about Sid Caesar later, but of course I knew of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. Speaking of Mel Brooks, I just watched “Young Frankenstein” last night and could not stop laughing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 10:19 am on September 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        In his autobiography, Sid Caesar has some very interesting and funny things to say about Mel Brooks when Brooks was a 20-something year old CHARACTER (that’s character with a capital CHARACTER) working for YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS. I have a feeling you would enjoy the autobio (CAESAR’S HOURS) tremendously if you have time to read it (Amazon has it in both hardcover and paperback).

        Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Scheel 10:05 pm on September 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply


      Wow! That takes me back all right. You’ve got a great talent for bringing back the blast from the past! Thanks for the memories.


      Liked by 2 people

    • Don Frankel 5:17 pm on September 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Muse most people are familiar with Sinatra’s upbeat version of Dancing in the Dark but he also sang it like this from time to time a little slower and more poignant.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 10:40 pm on September 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Don — I hadn’t heard this version before, and must say I prefer it to the upbeat version. I usually prefer Frank’s older & more mature voice, but in this case, I think he’s more in tune with the way the song should be sung and no doubt the way the songwriters (Dietz and Arthur Schwartz) envisioned it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jadi Campbell 3:02 am on September 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for a grreat post! I had the incredible good luck to see Sid Cesar and Imogene Coca together on stage. They did a piece without any words and it was amazing. I knew I was watching legends at the height of their gifts. Still shake my head at the memory, all these years later.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:31 am on September 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        That was indeed incredible good luck, Jadi — and it was an incredible pleasure to do this post, bringing back such recollections as the “Bavarian Clock” sketch which I hadn’t seen in decades.

        Thank you for sharing your memories.

        Liked by 1 person

    • restlessjo 4:38 am on September 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      LOVE a song and dance man ūüôā ūüôā

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:28 am on September 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Song and dance men don’t come any better than Fred Astaire!
        I especially love the DANCING IN THE DARK dance with Cyd Charisse — so sensual, so effortless, so perfect.

        Liked by 1 person

    • moorezart 11:43 am on September 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on From 1 Blogger 2 Another.

      Liked by 2 people

  • mistermuse 5:03 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Charlie Chaplin, Crowfoot, famous last words, , Lady Astor, last words   


    I’ve done a post or two in the past on humorous and/or famous epitaphs, but there’s a quote and a song¬†that remind us that famous (and not so famous) last words aren’t always written in stone:

    “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.” –Johnny Ace, R&B singer (died playing with a pistol in 1954)

    So¬†this post will pay its¬†respects to the utter-ly unchiseled last words of a sampling of those who have gone before us….and may those who died at the hands of axe murderers and body¬†hackers¬†rest in pieces.

    Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. My advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it. –Somerset Maugham

    This is no way to live. –Groucho Marx

    They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance. –John Sedgwick (Union general just before being¬†killed by Confederate sharpshooter during U. S. Civil War)

    If this is dying, I don’t think much of it.¬†–Lytton Strachey

    I knew it! I knew it!¬† Born in a hotel room and, goddamn it, dying in a hotel room. –Eugene O’Neill (died in a Boston hotel at age 65)

    Good. A woman who can fart is not dead. –Louise-Marie-Therese de Saint Maurice (upon passing gas as she lay dying)

    Am I dying, or is this my birthday? –Lady Astor (awakening on her deathbed to¬†find her family gathered at her bedside)

    Why not? After all, it belongs to him. —Charlie Chaplin (to a priest’s “May the Lord have mercy on your soul” while giving the last rites)

    Oh God! Here I go. –Max Baer (former heavyweight boxing champion)

    What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. –Crowfoot

    • Don Frankel 5:47 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      One good turn deserves another Muse.


    • mistermuse 6:12 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      ….or you could say, “One good TUNE deserves another.” If I recall correctly, MISS OTIS REGRETS is by Cole Porter, so it could hardly not be a good tune. Good find, Don.


    • Joseph Nebus 9:52 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I can’t help wondering if Groucho had thought out his words ahead of time, or if it was a spontaneous line. It’s so perfectly crafted.


    • mistermuse 10:46 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I wouldn’t put it past Groucho to have thought of it ahead of time….speaking of whom, the quote which struck me as most Groucho-like was Lady Astor’s. Unfortunately, some of her other traits were not up to the level of her wit.


    • arekhill1 9:09 am on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Samuel Upham had been a professor at Drew Theological Seminary for years and as he lay dying, friends gathered about. The question arose as to whether he was still living or not. Someone advised, “Feel his feet. No one ever died with warm feet.” Dr. Upham opened an eye and said, “Joan of Arc did.”


    • mistermuse 9:31 am on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Love it….col (chortled out loud)! Joan turned out to be one hot broad.

      BTW, I’d just learned that the word “chortle” was invented by Lewis Carroll from “chuckle” and “snort,” so I couldn’t resist using it above. One can never know too much trivia.


  • mistermuse 6:45 pm on April 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Charlie Chaplin, Damon Runyon, , humorists, , , , , , Toulouse-Lautrec   


    Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, the leading 19th century Prussian strategist, was said to have laughed only twice: once when told that a certain French fortress was impregnable, and once when his mother-in-law died. -Paul Johnson, historian/author

    April is NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH. Why? April may have this privilege over other months¬†because it begins with April Fools Day and ends with¬†National Honesty Day —¬†but to be honest, I’m just speculating.¬†A more interesting¬†question is raised by this post’s title….or, as W. C. Fields put it, We know¬†what makes people laugh. We do not know¬†why they laugh.

    But¬†we do know that what some people find funny, others don’t.¬†A joke¬†that cracks you up, I may not get.¬†Something I consider juvenile may strike you as hilarious. Paul Johnson takes a stab at this in his book HUMORISTS FROM HOGARTH TO NOEL COWARD, in which he relates journalist/writer Arthur Koestler’s example of “the very primitive Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. What really makes them roar is when a springbok, fatally wounded by a bullet, continues to jump and kick in its death agony.”

    What is the difference between our reaction to¬†the Prussian’s reaction to the death of his mother-in-law, and to¬†the Bushmen’s reaction to the death throes of the springbok? Apples and oranges? That comparison will have to do….at least, until someone pays me¬†for the fruits of my labor. Meanwhile, for those who might¬†contemplate¬†the purchase of Paul Johnson’s HUMORISTS, here is¬†a list of¬†A-list humorists covered in his book:

    Hogarth, Dr. Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Rowlandson, Dickens, Toulouse-Lautrec, G. K. Chesterton, Damon Runyon, W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, James Thurber, Nancy Mitford and Noel Coward.

    An interesting cast of characters, no doubt, though in a few cases, such as the second name mentioned, “it stretches [quoting Paul Johnson himself] credulity to write of Dr. Samuel Johnson as a comic.” What seems to me even more curious, however, is the¬†non-inclusion of the likes of¬†Mark Twain, whose omission I will make a feeble attempt to¬†mitigate by giving him the last word here¬†(which was also the closing quote of my April 16 post):

    Well, humor is the great thing, the saving thing, after all.







    • arekhill1 9:32 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Every month should be National Humor Month, unless every other month was International Humor Month instead. Or World Humor Month. Or Planetary Humor Month. Whether you call attention to the humor in the month or not, it’s always there.


    • mistermuse 10:34 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If only the religious fanatics and extremists of the world believed humor is always there.


  • mistermuse 11:50 am on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Experience, Believe It or Not, Billy Martin, born on Christmas day, , Charlie Chaplin, , Clara Barton, , , , James Brown, Kid Ory, Robert Ripley,   


    Yesterday may have been Christmas, but heaven only knows¬†the¬†exact date of Christ’s birth (Christmas wasn’t¬†celebrated on December 25 until the 4th century A.D.). So, here it is the day after Christmas, which is¬†a lull of a day¬†following¬†as full of a¬†day as there is all year, and I’ve decided to find out who (of note)¬†actually was¬†born on December 25. Why?¬†Not why they were born¬†on that day (presumably, something naughty and nice happened one night nine months previously), but¬†—¬†why¬†do I bother? Because¬†inquiring minds want to know, that’s why….and my readers, being wise men and women,¬†have inquiring minds (I’m giving¬†you the benefit of the doubt).

    Believe It or Not,¬†Robert Ripley was born on Christmas day (in 1890). If you’re a lover of trivia, you can thank Robert Ripley for making it a popular pursuit even¬†before you were born. Ripley was a cartoonist and amateur anthropologist who created Believe It or Not! as a panel series in Randolph Hearst’s King Features Syndicate in 1929. A year later, Ripley famously expanded into other media, including radio and short films such as this 1930 Vitaphone curio (it’s a hoot!):

    Can’t get enough of his wonderful stuff? Then tune in January 6th to the PBS series American Experience (here’s a half-minute preview):

    Ripley was voted the most popular man in America by the New York Times in the 1930s, a decade in which he opened (in six cities) museums called Odditoriums. He died 1n 1949 and is buried, appropriately enough, in Oddfellows Lawn Cemetery, Santa Rosa, CA.

    Other notables who were born on Christmas day include Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder (1821); Kid Ory, legendary early New Orleans jazzman (1886); Humphrey (we’ll always have Casablanca) Bogart (1899); and Cab Calloway, jazz band leader (1907).

    And while we’re at it, since Christmas both giveth and taketh away, here are some notable December 25th deaths: Charlie Chaplin (died 1977); two Martins, Billy (1989) and Dean (1995); and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (2006).

    And with that, I believe I’ll call it a day.


    • Joseph Nebus 2:12 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, I thought Jack Benny was also a Christmas baby but, of course, his was Valentine’s Day. I should’ve remembered that.


      • mistermuse 3:11 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Sometimes sources don’t agree on such things.. The first site I checked in researching Dec. 25 birthdays had Isaac Newton born on Dec. 25, 1642; another had Jan 4, 1643….so I checked more sites, and continued to find the same discrepancy. Not knowing which to believe, I didn’t include him in this posting.


    • arekhill1 2:14 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I remember knowing a kid in my extreme youth who was born on Christmas Day. He was regarded by we contemporaries with pity and horror, because he only got presents once a year. Sure, his parents pretended to give him gifts for both the holiday and his b-day, but he, (and we) were always sure he got short-shrifted.


      • mistermuse 4:19 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Another problematic day to be born on might be April Fool’s Day (you get presents, but you’d better open them with caution).


    • ladysighs 2:27 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I liked the video of Believe It or Not…..especially the girl who could speak fast. ūüôā


      • mistermuse 4:21 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        My wife doesn’t speak fast, but I still can’t get a word in edgewise – hahahaha (just kidding, dear).


    • Don Frankel 3:37 pm on December 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Okay I don’t believe it. What are they going to do? I mean what is the not here?

      I loved this stuff as a kid. They have a Ripley’s in Times Square.


    • mistermuse 4:38 pm on December 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Lucky for you, Ripley’s isn’t a fundamentalist religion – not believing it would be a hell of a bad way to go.
      Very interesting that they have a Ripley’s in Times Square. Not that I’ll ever see it, but I hope it’s not a fast food joint.


  • mistermuse 5:39 am on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a mind is a terrible thing to waste, , Charlie Chaplin, , , ,   


    People waste many things — time, money, talent, food (one way or another) — but I think¬†the saddest waste of all is the mind. You probably¬†do too — especially when you stop to think how¬†mindless all those¬†fools are who disagree with what you¬†think. I believe it was¬†Ivan Vasilyevich who¬†first¬†said A mind is a terrible thing to waste,¬†the wisdom of which¬†so impressed his comrads¬†that he¬†became forever¬†famous¬†as Ivan the Terrible (apparently he did not suffer fools gladly).

    So, it should be clear from the above that almost all waste can be controlled if we but set our minds to it. If you’re sitting around on your ass just¬†wasting away, there is simply¬†no excuse for it. Remember,¬†mind over matter –it’s the only¬†way to go if you want to get ahead, if you will. If you won’t, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    I hope I have¬†inspired you to get a grip and stop squandering away¬†your life, of which you have¬†but one to live, unless you¬†have faith¬†in reincarnation. Even so, there’s no telling what you might come back as — a curably¬†dying Christian Scientist, for example – so why take a chance? If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll listen to the testimony of these waste not, want not-ers:

    I spent 90% of my money on wine, women and song and just wasted the other 10%.¬†–Ronnie Hawkins

    A¬†day without laughter is a day wasted. –Charlie Chaplin

    The time you enjoy wasting is¬†not wasted time.¬†–Bertrand Russell

    The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life. –Muhammed Ali

    If I don’t learn something every single day, it’s a wasted day. –Leonard Lauder

    A Congressman’s idea of government waste is the¬†money spent in another Congressman’s district. -Evan Esar

    ¬†I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. –William Shakespeare

    I wish I could stand on a busy street corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours. –Bernard Berenson


    • arekhill1 9:00 am on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Or my personal observation on time wasted, “If life is so short, why do we spend it doing the same things over and over?”


    • mistermuse 11:55 am on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Good question. I’ve watched “Groundhog Day” over and over and still keep coming back for more.


    • paulwhitberg 12:15 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve always loved the quote from Shakespeare, but the wonderful one from Ali is new to me.Thanks for sharing!


    • mistermuse 1:59 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      If I had seen that quote unattributed, I wouldn’t have guessed it came from Ali. It’s good to see that he grew into that wisdom as he’s aged.


    • Thom Hickey 2:10 am on May 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks enjoyed the telling quotes. Will investigate archives. Regards Thom at the immortal jukebox.


    • mistermuse 7:07 am on May 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thom, If you’re looking for a theme song for your blog, give a listen:



    • Don Frankel 6:27 pm on May 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Muse if I didn’t waste my time what would I do with it?


    • mistermuse 7:55 pm on May 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t have an answer for that, Don — maybe Dr. Don could tell you.


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