Friday, July 17, 2009

The Three-Headed Marx

My eccentric obsessions are not limited to the Marx Brothers. I also have an interest in the 1939 New York World's Fair, among other things. In a previous post, I managed to work in a reference to one of the more bizarre attractions at the 1939 Fair--Morris Gest's Little Miracle Town. This exhibit consisted of a village of scaled-down buildings where a troupe of little people were on display and where they performed onstage.

There is a connection, however oblique, between the Marx Brothers and Little Miracle Town. I first noticed this in the picture below, which shows Morris Gest (left) and some of the performers from Little Miracle Town posing with the Westinghouse robot Elektro the Moto Man (another of my obsessions). Elektro is seated on a motorized cart driven by Frank Buck (in the pith helmet), proprieter of the Jungleland attraction at the fair.

Note in the background in the upper right corner of the picture the heads of Chico, Groucho, and Harpo on a single winged, tuxedo-wearing body.

The puzzling nature of this picture remained unsolved until I saw the picture below in the online archives of Life Magazine.

The facade of Little Miracle Town was covered with this odd mural of flying celebrities holding hands. If you click to enlarge the photo, you'll probably recognize a few of the them, like Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw, Clark Gable, and many more.

If you look closely, you can see a portion of Harpo's hair (arrow) to the right of the barker in the detail below.

Further evidence can be seen in the film clip from the Prelinger Archives below. Between 10 and 18 seconds, you can see the three-headed Marx just above the heads of the crowd to the far right.

By the way, any resemblance between the depiction of the Marxes on this mural and the mythical multi-headed hellhound Cerebrus is purely coincidental, though those who had to work with the Marx Brothers might have thought otherwise.


  1. Oh my God! Why three heads on the same body? I'm sorry, but the fact that a lot of other celebrities were illustrated the same way does not make the Marx-hydra any more normal to me!

  2. Lo,
    For that matter, why celebrities in formal wear with wings? With your interest in stars of this era, you'll probably recognize more personalities on the mural than most people. Did you notice your fellow Scandinavian Sonja Henie in her skates?

  3. Consider yourself tagged. Check my blog if you'd like to participate...

  4. #167,
    Thanks. I'm working on a response.