Thursday, June 11, 2009

26 Questions for Groucho

Master of Ceremonies Bud Collyer, rear, poses with the panel of the To Tell The Truth quiz show on CBS in 1957. Panelists from left to right are: Polly Bergen, Ralph Bellamy, Kitty Carlisle and Hy Gardner. Kitty Carlisle, whose long career spanned Broadway, opera, television and film, including the Marx Brothers movie "A Night at the Opera," died at age 96 in 2007.

In addition to being a panelist on To Tell the Truth, Hy Gardner (1908-1989) was a Broadway columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, and hosted a TV talk show called Hy Gardner Calling. In 1959, Gardner decided to start a project on older celebrities--specifically, those over age 50. He sent out a cover letter along with a questionaire consisting of 26 questions. The cover letter stated in part, "I'm doing a series which I think could be inspirational to a great many Americans over the age of fifty. I'm polling national figures in an effort to get the answers to some of the problems that confront the average man or woman past the half-century mark."

The original questionaire Gardner sent to Groucho, complete with his typewritten answers, is now being sold on eBay. The seller transcribed the questions and answers in the item description, and I am reproducing it here:
(1) What is your present age? 200 B.C.
(2) What keeps you looking and feeling so young? Each night before going to bed I rub bear grease between my toes
(3) How much sleep do you get out of the average 24 hours? 23
(4) It is good or fitful sleep? I sleep like a trout
(5) Do you require barbiturates or any other sleep inducing liquid or drug? Heroin ... a spoonful every night.
(6) How much sleep do you think you need? 24 hrs
(7) What about daytime naps? I go to bed right after breakfast and stay there until my cook hollars. "Come and get it!"
(8) Any nervousness in connection with an appearance, important meeting, etc? I meet very few people. I live in a cave.
(9) Do you control your temper more now than when you were younger? I have no temper! Every afternoon I throw a fit and that continues until they throw cold water on me.
(10) What do you worry about most? I don't get enough sleep.
(11) How frequently and thoroughly do you get a physical check-up? Every afternoon
(12) Do any exercise? Every Easter I roll an egg on the lawn
(13) Are you impatient with new friends and prefer the old ones? I have no friends. I sleep alone.
(14) Are you on any special diet? Yes. Raw meat and acorns
(15) How much weight have you lost or gained in the past five years? 100 pounds
(16) What do you do for relaxation? I go to sleep
(17) At what age do you think, if it is financially feasible, the average citizen should retire? Eighteen
(18) Are you bitter about anything? Yes. Having to write this for nothing!
(19) Do you use any alcohol? Just whiskey ... and kerosene for my lamps.
(20) Do you resent younger people coming up in your profession or business? Depends on how high they come up.
(21) Have you any objection to taking directions from these younger people? I love it. I'm always getting lost.
(22) Why is a male star even in his late fifties still attractive to young girls? You'll have to get some young girl to answer this one. And if you're successful, get one for me, too.
(23) Does reading the obituary column slow you down? Are you referring to the standing of the Yankees? (Note: The 1959 Yankees ended the season with a 79-75 record, their worst since 1925)
(24) What younger people coming up in your own special category would you consider might someday be the grand old stars of 1975? Ed Wynn, Ethel Barrymore and Donald Crisp. (Note: Ed Wynn was born in 1886, Ethel Barrymore in 1879 and Donald Crisp in 1880; each older than Groucho, who was born in 1890)
(25) Do you watch TV and, if so, what do you enjoy most? Turning it off.
(26) Do you ever expect to retire? I'm going to bed in about five minutes.


  1. What's the bid at the moment? I'm assuming there's no point me even thinking about it...

  2. There are no bids yet. Bidding opens at 249.99 USD, which I believe is about ten pounds sterling or 467 drachmas.

    Here's a link to the item.

  3. Can someone buy this for me? Please? Oh, I wish I could marry a millionaire... Or just become one. But I think it might be some work behind that, and that's really nothing for me. I just want the reward.