This series was originally made in the 30s with Groucho and Chico Marx taking the roles of Waldorf T. Flywheel and Emmanuel Ravelli respectively, and contrary to popular belief, the shows, although live, were recorded onto disc. Sadly these were subsequently destroyed (well all except the last of the shows) and the scripts were lost also (only turning up in 1988 in the National Library of Congress), so very little was actually known about the series until about a decade ago. It had started life as Beagle, Shyster, and Beagle, but an impending lawsuit from a real lawyer called Beagle prompted the name change to Flywheel. The show was then produced by the BBC in 1990, and proved to be a great hit. With the original scripts of Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman being adapted by Mark Brisenden with many additions, they were performed by Michael Roberts as Groucho Marx as Waldorf T. Flywheel and Frank Lazarus as Chico Marx as Emmanuel Ravelli, with other vocals by Lorelei King, Graham Hoadly, Vincent Marzello, with guests including Spike Milligan. The shows ran over three series with repeats of all three, and the subsequent issue of a BBC Radio Collection Double Cassette of the entire first series. In 1992, the second series actually received the Gold Medal at New York's International Radio Festival!!!! Well folks, the page would not be complete without the details of the BBC broadcasts. I will later on try to add the original show details, but with only the one recording in the vaults, this is not pressing.
This was six episodes and went out June/July 1990. The entire first series is available on the BBC double cassette listed below. Note that the titles are ones that I have given to the shows where I have them, and have gleaned from others when I am missing a show.
Episode Title Trans. Notes 1 The Stolen Rembrant 2/6/90 Episodes 1, 4, & 17 with material common to Animal Crackers 2 The Theatre Company 9/6/90 Episode 14, with Lydia from At the Circus 3 Big Joe Crookley 16/6/9 Episodes 1, & 12, with a song from Horse Feathers 4 Foo Foo 23/6/9 Episodes 3, & 9 5 The Prize Fighter 30/6/9 Episode 10 with song from Cocoanuts 6 The Election 7/7/90 Episode 5, 6, & 16 with song from Horse Feathers
A further six episodes. I have given the shows my own titles, and will try to indicate which of the original scripts are used for the shows when I have some time to research them!
Episode Title Trans. Notes 1 Doctor Hackenbush 11/5/91 2 Uncle Abner 18/5/91 3 Ravelli goes to jail 25/5/91 4 Shoplifters 1/6/91 5 John Smith's will 8/6/91 6 Hollywood 15/6/91
The last series was another seven episodes, and is notable as Spike Milligan appears in a couple of the episodes.
Episode Title Trans. Notes 1 The Haunted House 11/7/92 Episode 24 2 Laughing Hyena 18/7/92 Episode 11 and new material 3 The Tour Bus 25/7/92 Episode 20 4 Chicago Clarion 1/8/92 Episode 22 5 Coney Island Fair 8/8/92 Episode 18 6 Flywheel at Xmas 15/8/92 Episode 5 7 Uncle Abner 22/8/92 Episode 13
For those who wish to look for the tape then the ISBN is 0563409975, and ZBBC 1225, but if you just want to know more about the Marx Brothers, then I suggest you go and buy the Marx Brothers Enclyclopaedia by Glenn Mitchell. There is everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Although not strictly a Marx Brothers fan - I certainly haven't watched all the films - the book was a wealth of information (even if I was a little disappointed to find that I was missing a whole series of Flywheel from my collection!) The book is extremely well researched and written, and it is amazing how just dipping in to find out about one thing lead me to sit there for hours going from reference to reference. The book is published by Batsford, and is priced £15.99.
Monkey BusinessThis is the latest in a line of biographies, and if you have many of the others, why buy this? Well that was the question that I asked myself when it arrived, but can safely answer that now. It is very well researched, and for the pedants, sets a few things straight from other biographies. It is also the first to cover the lives of all of the brothers - although not is as much depth as those written about just one at a time. This doesn't distract from the book though, and it is an enjoyable read. Whilst I would recommend Groucho and Harpo's own versions of their lives, there is nothing better than hearing things straight from the horses mouth, if you have the spare cash and the time to read it, I heartil;y recommend this book. Out of the biogs that I have read recently (over twenty!) I can honestly say that this was the easiest, despite being the longest. There is an invaluable chronology at the back of the book, a family tree, and charts all the brothers lives form the start to finish, and at a mere £12.99, is well worth it. The only thing that I can find really wrong with the book is that the pictures that do appear are printed on the same pages as text and therefore are not as nice as those books witht he pictures on the glossy sections halfway through. The ISBN is 0 571 19350 1, the book is published by Faber and Faber, and is on sale now. Raised EyebrowsJust in is news that several copies of the book by Steve Stoliar, Raised Eyebrows, can be purchased from Steve himself, directly. Steve is a rabid fan of the Marx Bros and was even lucky enough to become Groucho's personal secretary from 1974 until his death in 1977. Published in 1996, this book is the culmination of over 20 years of tales to friends, and Woody Allen is quoted as saying it is "one of the best books about a showbusiness icon" he'd ever read.