Groucho Marx in Time for Elizabeth (April 24, 1964)
While continuing my never-ending search for all things Marx, I stumbled across this photo of Grouch and Greg Peck that appeared in the October 1950 edition of Screen. According to the La Jolla Playhouse website’s production history, it was snapped almost two years before Groucho would make his return to the stage after a 22-year absence in a production based on a play he cowrote with Norman Krasna, Time for Elizabeth.
James Morrison recalls a story about Groucho that Mel Ferrer, who cofounded the Playhouse with Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire, loved to tell. At the time, performers were paid $55 to appear, plus hotel accommodations and three squares a day.
It had long been Ferrer’s desire to coax Groucho into making an appearance. “We knew Norman Krasna had written a play with Groucho in mind,” Ferrer told Morrison. “We said, ‘If we do the play, and Norm does a rewrite with you, will you come down’?”
Groucho had reservations about La Jolla noting, “That’s a very strait-laced community down there.” He eventually caved in, and Time for Elizabeth became the third presentation of the 1952 season.
Morrison continues, “At first Ferrer made lunch reservations each day for himself and Marx at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. By the end of Marx’s two-week stay, there would be 20 to 30 people at lunch with them listening to Groucho’s stories.”
The show ran July 15 to 20, 1952, which leads one to believe Ferrer didn’t quite have his facts straight. Elizabeth made it to the boards in 1948 and closed after 8 performances at the Fulton Theatre. Nor was there ever talk of a re-write. According to a Patrick McGilligan’s 1986 interview with Krasna, he and Groucho had devoted 10 or 15 years to the show prior to its Broadway debut.
It’s far from his shining hour, but for you Marx Bros. completests, Groucho appeared in a 1964 adaptation of the play for the Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre.