Richard Anobile, Chronicler of the Marx Brothers, Dies at 76

Richard Anobile, a prolific creator of film books whose friendly collaboration with the anarchic comedian Groucho Marx on a project called “The Marx Bros. Scrapbook” turned sour when Mr. Marx sued to stop its distribution after reading his unedited quoted remarks in print, died on Feb. 10 in Toronto. He was 76. His wife, Elizabeth (Golfman) Anobile, said the cause was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Mr. Anobile (pronounced a-NO-buh-lay) first entered the world of Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo Marx with the publication in 1971 of “Why a Duck?” (the title is based on wordplay between Groucho and Chico over the word “viaduct” in the 1929 movie “The Cocoanuts”). The book combined blowups of frames from scenes in eight of the comedy team’s films with the dialogue accompanying them. Groucho Marx wrote the introduction. “The Marx Bros. Scrapbook,” published two years later, was a more ambitious project, and it brought Mr. Anobile into closer contact with Groucho, then in his 80s, through an introduction by his agent. In addition to excerpts from his many hours of interviews with Mr. Marx, the book included photographs and illustrations, playbills, reviews, advertisements, family scrapbook entries and pages from film scripts. Mr. Anobile also interviewed the other two surviving Marx brothers, Gummo (who left the group long before they started making movies) and Zeppo, as well as friends like the comedian Jack Benny. The film critic Roger Ebert called “The Marx Bros. Scrapbook” “the all-time definitive work on the subject.” […]

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