There has been plenty of coverage of Elvis Presley in recent days, because on August 16 it was 30 years since he died. But just like it happened in 1977, there's far less mention -- let's say this, I detected none -- of a man who died just three days later. (And let it be said: in my considered opinion, this was a man far more talented than Elvis). In 1977, news of that death was more or less drowned out by the blanket coverage of Elvis: Time magazine gave him a 31-line "Milestones" obit, while Elvis warranted three-and-a-half pages of writing.
It prompted Dick Cavett to write to Time: "I can only assume that the [man] I knew is not the same one whose passing was noted briefly in your Milestones column. I hope the excuse is not that he chose to die on a weekend. I doubt that Time would want to suggest that, of all people, [this man's] timing was off."
Indeed. The timing. After all, this was a man who, when a fan expressed pleasure at finally meeting him, replied: "I've known him for years, and I can tell you it's no pleasure."
This was the man who, when a journalist asked him, "How would you like to be remembered?", answered: "Alive. If not that way, then dead."
This was Rufus T Firefly, Otis B Driftwood, Dr Hackenbush, Professor Quincy Wagstaff and many more impossible creations, all played with cigar, moustache and bent-kneed insouciance. With his equally absurd brothers, this was the star of "A Day at the Races", "Duck Soup", "Horse Feathers", "Go West", and several more completely madcap films.
This was Julius Henry Marx, better known as Groucho. (And, as it happens, someone else that I consider km an authority on). We remember you alive, we remember you dead, sure -- but wherever you're hanging out now, Mr Marx, I hope you're sending little postcards to the management that say: "I refuse to join a club that would accept me as a member."