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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars move over Groucho and Me, this is the true masterpiece!!, 25 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
After having read Groucho and Me and enjoying it immensely, I approached Harpo's autobiography with somewhat lesser expectations. After all, he spent most of his life as a mute who loved to chase women. HOW FOOLISH I WAS! Not only does this autobigraphy detail of his fantastic life, but one gets the distinct impression that this man was the backbone of the Marx Bros, playing an irreplacable role in the genius trio. From reading this wonderful tale, it seems as though Harpo sought to lead a life full of fun and laughter. He accomplished this for the most part, and what's more he managed to bring laughter into many other peoples lives as well. For a man as compassionate and caring as Harpo, I think he would have seen this as his real achievement. This book is a tribute to a true legend of comedy; one of whom we shall never see the likes of again.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harpo is truly an earth-angel., 3 Dec. 2002
This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
I picked this book up a few years ago because I had been watching some of the classic Marx Bros films and wanted to know more about them. Little did I know what a love affair I was embarking on. This book is telling, funny, honest...I literally couldn't put it down. It made me cry and (more often) it made me laugh out loud - what more can you ask for? Harpo's vivid, wise and at the same time naive eye reveals the tale of his life in such a way that at the end I felt like I had just read the autobiography of an impish angel who had come to earth just to give it a whirl and maybe stir a few things up. Absolutely inspiring to the last, Harpo was not only incredibly funny, but also incredibly beautiful. Words really can't describe how I felt about this book. Read it and you'll know what I mean.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just wlid on screen !!, 9 Sept. 2002
This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
Harpo Speaks is an excellently written,easily read biography, which keeps you enthralled and eager to not put this book down. Each chapter is a short story in its own right giving a vivid look into the past, not just of harpo's life, but of family and friends and the social climate of that era. Reading this book gives you the awareness of actually how famous the Marx's had become through determination of there Mother Minnie who put her five sons on the stage sometimes with resentment. Unlike Groucho's book 'Groucho and me' this isn't afraid to name drop, listing some of the most famous names of the time, throughout the world who Harpo had met and had become close friends with. It give you an insight into the turn of the twentieth century in the poorer areas of New York and how you could survive earning very little, especially with Harpo's choice of lack of education. Wonderful stories of his childhood and his many jobs, that today you would be embarrassed to admit. Hope i haven't given anything away as this is a book you must read if you are a Marxist,(in the movie sense).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly fascinating autobiography, 29 Mar. 2004
By 
L O'connor (richmond, surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
Harpo's story, told in his own words, is absolutely enthralling. His account of his poverty-stricken childhood in 1890s New York is particularly fascinating, and a very timely read for anyone inclined to wax sentimental about the 'good old days'. There are no good old days here, just a grim struggle for survival in a shoddy tenement building. The Marx parents are vivivdly described, the father, gentle Frenchie, a lousy tailor but a wonderful cook, and Minnie, his burningly ambitious mother, without whose drive and vision there would have been no Marx Brothers (a thought too awful to contemplate). Harpo tells of the brothers' early struggles in showbusiness, and the awfulness of touring, staying in horrible boarding houses and eating vile food. It is a relief to get to the part where they begin to be a success, and finally arrive on Broadway. Of central importance to Harpo was his friendship with critic and radio personality Alexander Woolcott, who features prominently in the middle part of the book. The later part of the book, which is mainly about his marriage and family life with his wife Susan is perhaps less fascinating than the rest of the book, but overally this is a memorable and enthralling read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harpo Speaks - brilliantly!, 12 May 2006
By 
Royale "Mies" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
I've watched the Marx bros. I've read the Marx bros, but for some reason I've only just got around to reading Harpo Speaks. It was worth the wait because not only is it a riveting read of the lives of an insane institution called the Marx Bros, but as a document it is an insight of the infancy of modern America. This is the early days before Americans were in any way fully unified - of Jews and Italians and Germans and Irish whose parents still carried the accents of their homeland. Harpo and co were first generation pure Americans, and it is wonderful to share the opportunities their new country gave them to develop their natural talents, and such a long, long time before the Big Apple turned sour to the core... A must-read book for any fan of life, hope and humour...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT SO DUMB AFTER ALL!, 8 Dec. 2007
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M. Drake - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
Groucho may get all the best lines, but now we know what an intelligent, caring and witty man Harpo really was. We get a fascinating look into the world of the Marx brothers before and after they became famous- Harpo`s accounts of his antics in New York and Hollwood are worth the entry price alone - a wonderful book for all Marx brothers fans!

Mick Drake author of the comic novel All`s Well at Wellwithoute.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harpo doesn t speak!, 16 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Kindle Edition)
I happened to hear a reading of this book in the radio, one chapter at a time. So I missed many chapters and became curios of the rest. It was really fun listening to it, but reading was as good. And it is really wrong to put as title that Harpo speaks when you don't hear his voice (according to himself, high pitched and nervous) when it is a book! But maybe he has taped the stuff and Rowland Barber has written it. There are so many funny stories that even if only half of them are true, the book has lots of historic value. Like the trip to the Soviet Union as the first US performer after renewal of the diplomatic relations in the 30's. Of course it is obvious that Harpo is not a very deep intellectual or observer and his life after the success of the Marx brothers consisted mainly of having fun (like playing crocket which in the thirties was a serious upper class sport, in par with golf. Pity golf did not become children's game also!)
The childhood of Harpo was not very fun but he makes it sound like it was, the years of misery as unknown artists are fun to read about but surely not fun, and the life as a celebrity (who happily was unrecognizable when normally dressed and without the wig) was fun but not really very serious. Lots of games, drinking and cigars which changed into a somewhat more serious family life when Harpo married and adopted lots of children. But had a golden heart and nice character and does not really have a bad word to say of anybody. Interestingly the brothers kept even together pretty well and did not much quarrel although they were very different. Even Karl Marx is mentioned positively although a possible relatedness is not mentioned (both came from the same part of Germany...). There is an interesting piece of news that the Marx square in New York does not come from Karl but from Harpo's uncle who was a crony of the city hall gang.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Witless, 29 Jan. 2010
By 
UncleDunc (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
A friend of mine was kind enough to buy me this book for Christmas and what a gift it is.

It's crammed to bursting point with amazing anecdotes, gags, stories and memories from an amazing life. Harpo's life and experiences alone- his career, his friends, his family- are book-worthy topics, but for someone who kept quiet on the stage and silver-screen almost all of his career, Harpo is a great storyteller.

His charm is he rarely took himself or anyone around him seriously, life was there for living and his life was filled with laughter. Both at himself and at others. From his amazing, dirt-poor (but happy) origins in New York to living with his wife and four adopted children in Palm Springs this book has a chuckle a page.

It does have its poignant moments which are rendered all the sadder in contrast to his happy, go-lucky storytelling. Events such as passing through pre-World War II Germany on his way to Russia and witnessing the Jew boycott and the passing away of friends and family feel so much sadder.

If you have any interest in the Marx Brothers and their films or simply enjoy funny, well-written stories from an amazingly varied life then this book is a must. I've romped through it in next to no time and was gutted that I'd reached the last page!!!

Just buy it, you won't regret it.

And remember, as he said:

'A modest man is made, not born.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxist, 8 Nov. 2011
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As an avid, long-time Marx Brothers fan, I read this book many years ago, and would have re-read it many times since if I hadn't loaned it to a colleague who didn't return it.

Harpo describes his life and the characters he has met along the way (particularly his family) with great wit and wry humour. The word-pictures he paints are so vivid, you could almost be there, living it yourself.

I recently purchased two more copies of Harpo Speaks, one for myself and one for my daughter (another fan) who lives abroad. If you are a Marx fan (and even if you aren't), do read it yourself, I'm sure you'd love it too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harpo Speaks..and when he does it's pure genius!, 9 April 2008
By 
Meryl M. Heasman "mezzipops" (england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harpo Speaks! (Paperback)
If you are interested in show business and like a funny, interesting, exciting, sad, and well written book, this one is for you. I absolutely loved it, and I think it's one of the best I have ever read.
I liked the Marx Brothers, of course, and loved Harpo, their genuis is a moment in time that will live forever. Harpo never spoke on film, but in this book you will realise that he also had a great flair for writing! Go on treat yourself or a friend to a great piece of entertaining literature.
Meryl Heasman Catflap Music.
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Harpo speaks
Harpo speaks by Harpo Marx (Hardcover - 1961)
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