One of the finest books I've ever read. As a Groucho fan, I found it a fascinating study of his final years. But as a fan of Hollywood in general, this was a truly staggering epic of the sights and sounds of 70s Hollywood.
5つ星のうち5.0I've always loved Groucho Marx and his wit
I've always loved Groucho Marx and his wit, so I read this after hearing that Rob Zombie was going to be making this as a movie adaptation. It's a riveting read but also sad the way Groucho was tormented by a mad pyscho called Erin Flemming who bullied Groucho and rinsed him of his money whilst alienating him from his family and friends. Steve was a fan and then got to work for his hero and he really cared about Groucho. I definitely recommend this even if you know nothing of the Marx brothers as its a fascinating insight into the life of old Hollywood stars and how they could be exploited and used by others.
If you're a Marx brothers fan or Grouch fan then this book is a must have. I've been a fan since I was a kid when I watched as many Marx brothers films as I could. It really gives an inside account of Grouchos household in his later years. Some funny stories and some sad ones. I can't recommend this book highly enough!
After hearing the Amazing Colossol Podcast with Gilbert Gottfried with his guest Steve Stoliar, who told his story about his years in Groucho's house, I was determined to get the book. I was not disappointed. It was written by a man who had great affection for Groucho and let us inside Groucho's house and the last years of his life. It is a wonderful book!
Pretty lightweight and self congratulatory ('I was the only one who understood what was really going on' etc) - style wise it was about as interesting as reading a menu - 'yesterday xyz came to dinner, today abc came to dinner' Just wanted to finish it to see what happened - nothing much as it turns out.
I got this book because it was recommended in one of Dick Cavett's books as being one of the better books about Groucho. I'm glad I did. The author was a longtime fan of Groucho's who ended up not only meeting his idol but working in his house the last three years of the comedian's life. This gave Steve a unique and interesting position to observe and tell this story, one that contains humor, wit, frustration, sadness, and an insightful look into the last years of one of entertainment's most beloved and interesting men.
Steve is a very good writer and does a fine job of portraying this time. While I, of course, was not present in the house during this time, I believe that he does an excellent job of being fair and accurate to all parties involved. I base this opinion on the layered and complex way he portrays people and events in this book. There are no cardboard characters, no demons and no angels. Even Erin Flemming, who is not a sympathetic figure in this accounting (or most others), is portrayed as having some good qualities and as having done some good things for Groucho. There is an epilogue giving an update on the assorted people in the book. I found it as fascinating as the main story.
I was a teenager during the period that Steve worked for Groucho and didn't really pay much attention to the public trials and such that went on at the end regarding conservatorship of Groucho and later his estate so this was all pretty much new to me. I found this part sad but interesting. This is not, however, overall a sad story. The first part is a lot of fun as we vicariously share Steve's excitement at being a fan who gets to not only meet his idol but work with him, first on a project to bring back one of the Marx Brothers' classic films and then as an employee in Groucho's house, answering fan mail and organizing his archives and memorabilia. If that weren't enough, he also gets to meet a wide variety of interesting people through his employment, some famous names you'll recognize and some not.
It's a roller coaster of a time and the story is very well written. If you have any interest at all in Groucho, I urge you to give this book a try. Frankly, even if you're not much of a fan, it's still an interesting tale. You won't regret it.
5つ星のうち5.0Each page raised my eyebrows and in a good way.
What a wonderfully well written story of Groucho's last years. Mr. Stoliar a life long Marx Brothers fan somehow helps to reignite the Marx Brothers and Groucho's fame and popularity back into the 1970s via petition for the release of the 1930 movie "Animal Crackers." I was a 10 year old kid living in Santa Monica at the time and also a Marx Brothers fan and remember attending the movie in Westwood. Steve then becomes an employee of Groucho and has an inside view of Groucho's life both good and bad. I just could not put this book down. Each chapter was full of new and exciting events surrounding both Groucho's and Steve's lives. A real insight into Groucho's last days, his happiness, his friends and sadly the issues associated with age and a certain female that had come into his life. Thank you again Steve, this So. Cal kid just loved your book page by page by page.
I find it dumbfounding and absolutely bewildering that anyone--I repeat, anyone--could give this book a low review; Raised Eyebrows is, unquestionably, the best book written about Groucho--and trust me, I've read them all ... and nothing even remotely compares to the loving tribute found in Raised Eyebrows. This book isn't the standard historical overview of Groucho's career, but a personal account of this pop culture icon and Hollywood legend during the latter period of his life ... a rarity in and of itself coupled with the fact that this book is magically and humorously written. Steve's flowing narrative takes the reader back to a different era--one that many of us, such as myself, never experienced--and not only allows the reader to feel and understand that period of time, but also allows the reader to feel as if they are right there in Groucho's home with Steve, helping him inscribe photos (that Groucho personally signed, by the way!) ... experiencing parties amongst Groucho's Hollywood friends ... or feeling sad and retrospective while leaving Groucho's home one last time.
I happened upon the hardcover edition of Raised Eyebrows several years ago; I've read this book approximately once per year, and it's always fresh, always insightful, always comforting, like I'm visiting an old friend. Every time I read Raised Eyebrows, it's like I'm reading it for the first time. When I learned a paperback with an extra chapter was available, I had to buy the new edition for that extra chapter alone ... because I knew it would be--like the rest of the book--gold. The Afterward allows the reader to catch-up with the author and the proverbial cast of characters ... providing updates and closing the book in a bittersweet style with a visit to Groucho's old residence.
Now, two editions of Raised Eyebrows rest on my bookshelf, amid a dozen or so other books about the life and times of Groucho Marx--but none as personal, as loving, as lovingly crafted, as witty and as rare as this memoir from someone who experienced life with a legend.
My only qualm with the new paperback edition is that the photos were not reproduced as sharply as in the hardback; in fact, the photo insert has the feel of washed-out photocopied pages. This is somewhat disappointing, (perhaps my copy was a printing flaw) but I can't allow the photo quality issue to lower my rating--five solid stars for the best book written on Groucho.
If you love Groucho Marx, Raised Eyebrows will make you love him even more; Steve's text is tender, respectful and full of admiration; his love and respect for Groucho are apparent. Groucho has always been a comedic hero to me, someone I wish I had, somehow, been able to spend time with, thusly, I am simultaneously envious and thankful to you, Steve, for sharing your priceless, rare and insightful adventure.
5つ星のうち5.0Great insights and stories we'd never have seen otherwise
If you are a fan of Groucho, and want an insider's insight into his final years, this is the best book for you. Steve was "in the trenches", and is also funny and engaging with a not-always-pleasant subject. There's a lot of great stuff here you won't read anywhere else. Enjoy.
5つ星のうち5.0A Real-Life Version of "Sunset Boulevard"
I've read many books about Groucho, and this is the one I was waiting for. It gives the story of his last few years, the slow descent through the eyes of a young man who worked for Groucho during his last bout of fame in the Seventies. Especially fascinating is his portrait of Erin Fleming. Stoliar refuses to pigeonhole her as a saint or a sinner or sycophant. More than anything else, Stoliar's penetrating look at one of Old Hollywood's last great legends, reminds me of a sympathetic, real-life version of "Sunset Boulevard." Stoliar brings a true affection for his subject, and while his writing style might be criticized as almost conversational, I see his writing as perfectly capturing the closeness that he had to the subject. I see that there is a film version of this in the works. I'm not sure the film will do this justice, as I think this book cannot be topped. Recommended without reservation.
5つ星のうち4.0An intimate look at the final years in the life of a true American Master.
In a show business career that spanned more than six decades Julius "Groucho" Marx did it all. Like so many of his contemporaries Groucho Marx cut his teeth on the vaudeville circuit as part of a singing act with his brothers. But The Marx Brothers quickly discovered that they were far more suited for comedy and beginning with "The Cocoanuts" in 1929 made 13 feature films several of which are considered to be comedy classics. In the early 1970's a revival of interest in The Marx Brothers was taking place on college campuses all across America. Steve Soliar was an undergraduate at UCLA at the time and was caught up in the Marx Brothers mania. He had become a devotee as a high school student and his primary goal in life was to one day meet and shake hands with his hero Groucho Marx. Little did Steve know that through an unlikely series of events he would actually wind up working for the man he admired so much during the final three years of his life. "Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House" is a largely delightful account of Steve Soliar's experiences working for Groucho at his home in the mid-1970's. Although there is a dark side to the story that must be told Steve's recollections of his experiences with Groucho and some of the legendary show biz figures who came to visit are for the most part tons of fun. I enjoyed it immensely.
Now as I indicated earlier The Marx Brothers were all the rage on college campuses back in the mid-'70s. Marx Brothers film festivals featuring classics like "Duck Soup", "Monkey Business" and "Room Service" could be found both on college campuses and in smaller "second run" theaters in small towns and big cities across the country. One of the classics that was not being shown was the 1930 film "Animal Crackers". The film had not been shown in theaters for about 20 years and its license had been allowed to expire. Steve Soliar took the initiative and approached Universal about the possibility of re-releasing the film. They simply were not interested. But Steve would not take "no" for an answer. He discovered that the rights to "Animal Crackers" had reverted to the authors of the original Broadway play. One of those people was composer Harry Ruby whose number happened to be listed in the local phone book. Steve contacted him and one thing led to another and within a few short weeks Steve got to meet his hero Groucho Marx and shortly thereafter Universal agreed to re-release "Animal Crackers". It was a huge success. Shortly thereafter Steve Soliar would be hired by Groucho's personal assistant Erin Fleming to answer Groucho's fan mail and organize his memorabilia. He could make his own hours and here is the best part--he would be working right there in Groucho's house!
In "Raised Eyebrows" Steve Stoliar talks about his personal relationship with Groucho and about the sad state of Groucho's health during those final three years of his life. The years had taken their toll and a series of strokes had left Groucho extremely frail. In spite of the physical setbacks Steve found that Groucho's quick wit was still very much in evidence. Steve would characterize his relationship with Groucho as something akin to an uncle-nephew kind of thing. Steve says that although he would never claim that they were friends Groucho was fond of him because they had so much in common and enjoyed many of the same things. Meanwhile, as time went on Steve and many of the other people in Groucho's life were becoming increasingly concerned about the erratic behavior of his personal assistant Erin Fleming. I'll skip the lurid details here but suffice to say that many of the concerns harbored by family and friends were quite justified. An ugly legal battle would ensue.
For me the best part of "Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House" was Steve's accounts of all of those show business icons who came to visit Groucho during those final three years. There was Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Carroll O'Connor and Sally Struthers, Jack Lemmon, Mae West, his sidekick from "You Bet Your Life" George Fenneman and George Jessel to name but a few. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during some of those conversations! Steve Soliar also tells the story of the day he had lunch with Groucho and George Burns. As Steve tells it was kind of like being in an outake of "The Sunshine Boys". Steve also got the opportunity to meet so many of the writers who worked with Groucho during his storied career. Evidently they were an inspiration to him because Steve changed his major at UCLA and decided to embark on a career in writing himself.
"Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House" was originally released back in 1996. The updated 2011 edition contains an additional chapter where Steve Stoliar updates us on what has transpired since the original book was written. The book also features more than two dozen rare photographs of Groucho with family and friends that are sure to greatly enhance your enjoyment of the book. All in all, I found "Raised Eyebrows" to be a well-written and extremely entertaining book. An absolute must for fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Highly recommended!
This is an excellent book, focused on Groucho Marx's last years, written by someone who was working in Groucho's house during that period and became very involved in the various activities Groucho engaged in, Steve Stoliar is an excellent writer who draws the reader into Groucho's world by providing exquisite detail and thoughtful retrospection. It is written fluidly and is quite enjoyable. He ends the book with a through synopsis of what happened later to those closest to Groucho during that time, this sort of postscript should be undertaken by more authors,
I am very grateful that he wrote this book. I think anyone reading it would feel similarly.