November 28, 2015

Comedian In Twilight: RAISED EYEBROWS

As you're reading this, I'm currently working a large convention of fans....and some would believe that I am "living the dream." But that does a great disservice...and for some, "living the dream" can be a mixed blessing.

Steve Stoliar was one such person - growing up as a Marx Brothers fan, he jumped at the chance to live and work with Groucho Marx in his later years. It forms the backbone of his recently reissued memoir Raised Eyebrows - My Years Inside Groucho's House (Expanded Edition), and also makes for some great, compelling reading.

If you're looking for sordid details and/or a hatched job....look elsewhere. This isn't the book for you. In fact, Stoliar does an exceptional job in providing a balanced  yet realistic look at life with Groucho in Raised Eyebrows. Stoliar came at a time when Groucho was embroiled in both a controversial relationship (with Erin Fleming) as well as a comeback (the Marx Brothers' "revival" in the 1970s). This could have made for an explosive, spare-no-details expose that would not be out-of-place in our TMZ-and-gossip-driven media culture.

But Stoliar doesn't do that - in fact, Stoliar makes great efforts to provide balance in Raised Eyebrows.  Consistently taking the high ground, Stoliar frequently sites that he may not have known all the details in a given situation, and more importantly, rarely descends to innuendo and character slamming. (Towards the end, Stoliar even relates details about some issues various individuals took with his memoir).

It's the kind of book rarely seen - an honest, open look at someone meeting the focus of their fandom....and seeing them as a human being. And that's the best reason to read Raised Eyebrows.

That, and Stoliar's story about Zeppo Marx as a romantic rival.

Highly recommended.

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