All Male Cats Are Named Tom: Or, the Uneasy Symbiosis between T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx

Ed Simon in JSTOR Daily:

In 1961 a letter with a Royal Mail postmark arrived at 1083 North Hillcrest Road, Beverly Hills. Fan mail sent to this modernist estate amidst the California scrub were not uncommon. After all, it was the home of Julius “Groucho” Marx, the visionary leader of the fraternal comedic group. This particular note had a return address of 3 Kensington Court Gardens, a continent and an ocean away.

Groucho Marx had no shortage of fans, as the Marx Brothers revolutionized American comedy in films such as Duck SoupA Night at the Opera, and, notably, Horse Feathers, in which Groucho plays a college dean, with the mockingly patrician name Quincy Adams Wagstaff. Overseeing an assemblage of pompous, mortar-boarded, gown-wearing academics who dance and sing, Wagstaff says “I don’t know what they have to say/It makes no difference anyway.” It’s an “anarchic expression of distrust of any form of social or political organization,” according to Leonard Helfgott in an essay from Jews and Humor, and shows exactly how the Brothers went about their business of puncturing pretension.

More here.