Quotes About Harpo Marx
Most of us can probably remember sitting in a history class with our heavy textbooks and reading about famous quotes by or about important people and world leaders. While words honoring the contributions of Harpo Marx as a comedic genius may never make it into the middle school lesson plans of a classroom, it's worth showcasing some of the things that were said about him and his life and about his collection of works. Below are some quotes from some noteworthy people that worked with Harpo, knew him in life.
Gummo Marx: "Harpo played the right instrument. He was an angel. There was nobody like him, there never will be anybody like him. He was just simply wonderful. He never had a bad word for anybody... not like me. I at least occasionally say something. But Harpo... they don’t make that kind anymore."

Miriam Marx (Groucho's daughter): "Harpo was almost not of this world, he was saintly, ethereal. He was my favorite person..."

Mildred Dilling (Harp Instructor): "Harpo was dead serious about music. Classical music filled his life. Music was an overwhelming passion which enriched his life. I was in my teens. He was older than I was, but he had great reverence for my knowledge. Harpo never changed. I don’t know how old he was when I first met him... The way he is on screen, the way everyone knows him, is the way he played after I began teaching him. We met before they made any of the movies. Harpo had individuality. I never could make him learn to read music.

He was full of tricks. He had a rubber bass string, although I never saw it. He would do things like sit at his harp and twist his nose with his left hand and pluck the string with his right hand. He would hide part of what he was doing with his body, and it would seem as if his nose made a sound.

Harpo wasn’t really an intellectual... Harpo was brilliant, though."

From The I Love Lucy Show:
Doris Singleton ("Caroline Appleby"): "I was lucky to have been in the Harpo Marx episode. He was absolutely fantastic to work with and was about the sweetest man I’ve ever met. He wasn’t a bit funny offstage, but a very warm, lovely gentle man. When the fright wig was off, he was just Harpo."
Lucille Ball: "Harpo was such a darling man. Bright and witty and articulate for someone who never spoke on-camera, but when he worked, he always worked alone. If you look back at the Marx Brothers films, you’ll see Groucho and Chico working together, with Harpo doing his own thing in and out of the picture. I was supposed to imitate everything he did, but he couldn’t remember from one rehearsal to the next what it was he did. We went crazy. It ended up that I had to teach him his own routine. He was a great musician and a great guy."

Harpo Marx (Early Days): "We were washed up. We were stranded...I was depressed, and confused, and I had to be alone. I kept telling myself that something good always happened every time I hit bottom. But I didn’t believe it.

...As I walked, a long-forgotten voice came out of my past. Miss Flatto. Miss Flatto, wiggling her finger at my nose and saying, ‘Some day you’ll realize, young man! Some day you’ll realize!’...

I was startled to find I was standing watching an auction sale... I was careful to keep my hands in my pockets, so I could resist any crazy impulse to make a bid, and blow my entire capital of seven cents.

The shelves were nearly emptied out and most of the crowd had left, but I still hung around, having nothing better to do with myself. Finally everything was gone except for one scrub brush, the former owner, hovering in the background, the auctioneer, myself, and an elderly Italian couple. The elderly couple had been there all the time. Either they had no money or they were too timid to make a bid on anything. Whichever it was, they exchanged sad looks now that the auction was winding up.

The auctioneer was tired. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘Let’s get it over with and not horse around. I have left here one desirable item. One cleansing brush in A-number-one, brand-new condition, guaranteed to give you floors so clean you could eat off them. What am I offered?’

The old Italian guy and his wife looked at each other, searching for the key to the right thing to say... they held on to each other like they had done something wrong. I said quickly, ‘One cent.’

The auctioneer whacked his gavel.

‘Sold-thank-God-to-the-young-American-gentleman-for-one-cent.’ I picked up my brush and handed it to the old lady. She was as touched as if I had given her the entire contents of the store. The old man grabbed my hand and pumped it. They both grinned at me and poured out a river of Italian that I couldn’t understand. ‘Think nothing of it,’ I said, and added, ‘Ciao, eh?’ ... which was the only Italian I could remember from 93rd street. They thought this was pretty funny, the way I said it, and they walked away laughing. I walked away laughing too... I couldn’t explain it, but a lousy penny scrub brush had changed the whole complexion of life."

George S. Kaufman: "Harpo Marx, to whom he was devoted, took delight in rattling the easily embarrassed Kaufman. As a friend, Harpo was a practical joker of incredible proportions.

There was the day when Harpo, Bea, and George Kaufman were in a diner aboard a train going to Bucks County. A little old lady asked if she might take the fourth chair at their table. Bea said it was all right, but George, knowing how unpredictably mad Harpo was, squirmed. Harpo said nothing. He didn’t even look at her.

The little old lady finished eating first and asked for her check. George was still concerned about Harpo. The waiter brought the lady’s check on a saucer. George smiled with relief.

But Harpo, still not looking up from his plate, reached for the saucer, salted and peppered the lady’s check, and ate it. Kaufman twisted in agony."

Irving Brecher: "He was pretty much what he was on the screen: A dear elf."

Norman Krasna: "Harpo was a pixie-like person... a giant pixie. He was completely kin... Dogs and children would come to him as he got into a room... he absolutely was a saint."

Nat Perrin: "An imp, on and off stage... Harpo used to play golf at Tamarisk Country Club. He’d wear his swimming shorts. There were houses, lining the course, and everyone had a swimming pool. Harpo would play a little golf. Then, he’d jump in someone’s pool, cool off, play some more golf, and then jump in someone else’s pool. If you heard a splash, it was Harpo... Harpo wasn’t really making an effort to be liked. Harpo was genuinely likable, lovable and pixieish."

George Jessel: "Harpo was exactly what harp actually means: Angel... You know, there’s a church in Brussels, and on top are all little cherubs. And they all look like Harpo Marx."

George Seaton: "Harpo was just the dearest, sweetest man. I don’t think you can find anyone who has a bad word to say about Harpo. But he was a leprechaun, an elf. He used to do silly, wonderful things, like stealing Maggie Dumont’s wig. She was as bald as a billiard ball and always wore a wig. He’d take great delight in stealing her wig before we got off the train. In Chicago or someplace, here would come Maggie with a towel wrapped around her head, and on it said ‘Pullman.’"


George Burns: "One thing he said to me that was so, so nice... He adopted four children, you know. So I said to him, ‘When are you gonna quit? How many children are you going to adopt?’ He says, ‘I’d like to adopt as many children as I have windows. So when I leave, I want a kid in every window, waving goodbye.’... I think that was about the greatest marriage that I know of, Susan Marx and Harpo. Anything Harpo wanted, she would do. Like she had these four children, and she’d have dinner on the stove. Let’s say, seven o’clock at night, dinner is ready. And Harpo would come in and say, ‘Susan, let’s eat out.’ She’d say, ‘Okay.’ Bop! Turn out the lights, and out they’d go."

Bill Marx (Harpo’s oldest son): "After my mother nailed him, he wound up in a world of his own, like a dream that he never thought would be fulfilled. From the East Side of New York to Beverly Hills, to a nice house that he built. He just advanced into a dream and lived there the rest of his life ... not in Beverly Hills or Palm Springs, but in that dream.

His life was fulfilled at the time he got married, and all he wanted to do was have a family and revolve around that family. It was like he was a child reborn into another family. He was not a father ... he was going through his second childhood... And I always felt he was a fragile man at that time...

We all loved him. There was nothing not to like about him. He was a genuinely lovely man who was able to take a situation like George Wallace, states’ rights and the federal government’s position, and say, while he was sitting in his sickbed, ‘George Wallace is right. The federal government is right. Which is more right for more of the people? The federal government!’... He would recognize the right on everybody’s side, and say, ‘What will subsequently be better for more people?’ That was his great charm, his great feeling for humanity..."