A Groucho Marx biopic has been announced, and it will be overseen by horror director Rob Zombie.
Zombie will produce and direct the film, which will be written by Oren Moverman, whose previous biopics have included this summer’s Love & Mercy, which revolves around The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, and I’m Not There, the unconventional Bob Dylan biopic.
Rob Zombie’s Groucho Marx biopic will be based on Steve Stolliar’s book, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House. Stolliar spent three years as the personal secretary to Groucho Marx, who alongside his brothers starred in some of the most highly acclaimed comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, including Duck Soup.
During this period Stolliar worked from Groucho Marx’s home in Beverly Hills up until his death in 1977. While in this role Stolliar came into contact with some of Hollywood’s most iconic actors and actresses, including Mae West, George Burns, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, and Steve Allen.
Stolliar also had many interactions with Erin Fleming, the Canadian actress who was the companion to Groucho Marx during his final years. Fleming received praise for how she managed to revive his career, which included a series of one-man shows, a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, as well as his honorary Academy Award in 1974.
However, there have also been claims that she physically and emotionally abused Groucho Marx during this period, too. After Groucho’s death she became embroiled in a legal dispute with his son, Arthur Marx. Fleming eventually committed suicide in 2003 at the age of 61, after several years of mental problems.
Speaking to Deadline about his hopes for the project, Rob Zombie explained, “I have been a huge Groucho Marx fan ever since I was a child and have read countless books on the comic legend, but after reading the book Raised Eyebrows, a totally new perspective on Groucho’s life emerged. I immediately saw this project as Groucho’s Sunset Boulevard and knew I had to bring it to the big screen. It is a sad, funny, and very dark tale of one of Hollywood’s greatest stars final years.”
Producer Miranda Bailey added, “Steve’s story detailing his experience with one of the most iconic comedians of our time was so poignantly crafted, and such a compelling read, that I immediately knew it was a project I wanted to be involved with. Rob is the perfect visionary to direct Oren’s script to the screen.”
(Photo by W. Breeze/Evening Standard/Getty Images)