Groucho Marx had three children, a boy and girl from his first marriage (the boy, author Arthur Marx, wrote two books and two plays about Groucho) and one girl, Melinda, from his second marriage to Kay Gorcey, ex-wife of ‘Bowery Boy’ Leo Gorcey. (Now there’s an odd case of indirect male genital contact…if that’s your idea of a good time). As often happens with later-in-life children–Groucho was fifty-five when Melinda was born–father Groucho lavished a level of attention and affection on daughter Melinda that he’d rather conspicuously withheld from his older kids. Melinda appeared frequently on ‘You Bet Your Life’, the first time at age 8 as a surprise contestant. She and Groucho sang a Gilbert and Sullivan duet from ‘The Mikado’ on a later episode and on yet another episode Melinda and Candice Bergen (then a teenager) won $1000 for the ‘Girl Scouts of the USA’. On her fourth appearance in 1961 she sang and danced with Bobby Van to ‘Put On A Happy Face’. Six years later, father and daughter shared a Father’s Day installment of ‘The Dating Game’.
No doubt encouraged by her doting father, Melinda began a career as a musician, both singing and playing mandolin. She actually had a couple of records that charted and on June 12th, 1965 she appeared on ‘Shivaree’ (a syndicated pop variety show that I wrote about last week) singing ‘It Happens In The Same Old Way.’ She’s got a nice voice and a provocative (if somewhat spooky) Wednesday Addams kind of vibe. She retired from active performing in the 1970s and I’m happy to say she still walks amongst us, though she seems to keep an awfully low profile. I’m sure growing up as one of Groucho’s children had both considerable benefits and drawbacks, one of the latter being that it must get a little old hearing yourself constantly introduced as ‘Groucho Marx’s Son/Daughter’. Nonetheless: “Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome Groucho Marx’s daughter Melinda Marx!”