Today’s Birthday–Groucho Marx, October 2, 1890



Today’s Birthday

Groucho Marx, October 2, 1890

“Whatever it is, I’m against it!” 

Groucho Marx, born Julius Henry Marx in New York City, is an iconic comedic figure with a long career.  He made 15 films with his brothers (collectively known to practically everyone, everywhere  as “The Marx Brothers”), toured the vaudeville circuit, starred on Broadway and performed on radio and television (his long-running hit show “You Bet Your Life”, premiered on radio in 1947 and ran in some form on radio and/or television until 1961.).   He hosted other TV shows, wrote several books, was a constant guest on talk shows, had a one-man show at Carnegie Hall, and was the recipient of an honorary Academy Award (1974).

It’s no surprise that Groucho Marx, known for his ad-libs and jibes, quick wit and communication skills, has a dominant emphasis in the element of Air in his astrological chart.  Air people are natural communicators and “connectors”.  As a Libra, Groucho Marx worked well by playing with–and off–others, whether it was his brothers or that eternal comedic foil, the stuffy socialite played so well by Margaret Dumont in the many films they appeared in together.  In fact, most of the planets in Marx’s chart cluster in air signs–the Sun, Mercury and Uranus in Libra, the Moon, Neptune and Pluto in Gemini and Jupiter in Aquarius, forming an Air Grand Trine.  (Marx’s North Node is also in Gemini).

With such an emphasis, it’s no surprise that Groucho was always a voracious reader, although he had to leave school at age 12 to work and make money to support the family. He reportedly was very sensitive about his lack of formal education.  Mercury is  in Libra and close to his Sun, so his self-identification was linked to his communicative abilities and intelligence. His Sun trines Neptune (music and films), showing his aptitude in these areas. He started out as a singer before switching to comedy. The story is that he and his brothers were singers on the vaudeville circuit but weren’t doing well  at all. At one point they decided to amuse themselves by telling jokes on the stage.  The audiences loved their banter, and a new career was born.

In Marx’s chart the Sun also trines Pluto, showing a strong personality (doubly emphasized as the sign Pluto rules, Scorpio, was rising when he was born) and an ability to transform himself constantly. It also shows one who can become very successful with the masses, someone who has a great deal of power who may be remembered long after his passing, which certainly is accurate in this case!

The Sun aspects Chiron, adding an individualistic, “maverick” energy  to his personality.  The mental planet Mercury connects with Mars, indicating a quick, rapid-fire mind and delivery, a certain amount of impatience and possibly a quick temper when other people are too slow or can’t keep up.  Mercury also aspects Jupiter and Neptune, showing someone with an expansive mind, an ability to think on his feet, who can almost “channel” information in a non-stop creative stream.  (His Moon/Neptune aspect also shows this kind of creativity). As Mercury is retrograde, this emphasizes his unusual  style of thinking or learning and points to shyness, reticence, or blocks in the early environment that forced him to take an unusual approach to educating himself.

With the Moon in Gemini, Marx was very verbal, witty and expressed himself emotionally through banter, wordplay and the over-the-top flirtatiousness exhibited in his films.  (That Moon in Gemini/Scorpio rising/Venus in the 1st combo meant that he was able to convey a certain lecherousness, but in a clever way that general audiences found amusing rather than off-putting).

With the Moon trine Jupiter, his quips reached large audiences and he and his brothers became hugely popular. (The Moon = the masses, Jupiter is expansive).   The Moon also aspects Uranus, pointing to an unusual mother, a certain emotional detachment, and the soul of a “free spirit”.  Marx was born to be different and to find his own way. He and his brothers formed a comedy collective that was like nothing that had been seen before. With the Moon’s connection to with Neptune, music, dance, rhythm and timing are again emphasized. (And it hints that Marx may have had a need to idealize women, beginning with his own mother). Moon/Pluto shows not only that extremely ambitious powerhouse of a mother, Minnie, but the complicated nature of his own emotional responses.  He was married three times; all three women were alcoholics, leading others to wonder whether they were that way when he met them or if he drove them there!  The general consensus is that Groucho didn’t have an “off switch” (all that air energy combined with Saturn in Virgo can lead to over-thinking and worrying), that he was always “Groucho” and thus a bit hard to take 24/7.  Air signs also need a lot of room, and many things in Groucho’s chart indicate a detached nature and a fear of people getting too close, so staying in character also conveniently kept them at bay.  With that Moon/Neptune/Pluto combination and Venus in Scorpio, one wonders how his early relationship with his mother colored his later relationships with women.  He may have run hot and cold, idealizing one moment and demonizing the next. The 8th house/Pluto/Venus in Scorpio emphasis may also have meant that jealousy and possessiveness may have been part of the dynamic–relationships may not have always run smoothly!

Marx also had a very practical side. With Mars in Capricorn and Saturn in Virgo, he was a hard worker who likely worried a great deal about financial matters (and about things in general, with all that Air) and as Saturn is in the 10th, he probably felt responsible for the well-being of his family, especially his brothers. This is doubly emphasized by the fact that Marx’s third house (siblings) has Capricorn on the cusp.  One thing I found fascinating is that with his North Node in Gemini, Marx’s fate was tied in with his siblings, and as the Node is in the 8th house, as is Pluto (also in Gemini), it would seem that Marx and his brothers were karmically tied and probably have been so in many incarnations. So his feeling a debt to them, or feeling responsible, makes sense, as they do seem to have traveled together more than once!

Marx’s Jupiter in Aquarius, in aspect to other points in his chart, shows him to be progressive, tolerant, essentially timeless, and indeed, the Marx Brothers, with their anarchic style and lack of respect for stuffiness and clueless authority figures, were rediscovered in the rebellious 1960s.  Groucho Marx, in particular, with his unusual appearance (in the early days the exaggerated eyebrows and moustache were drawn on with greasepaint), his loping walk and steady stream of double entendres (the man did have Scorpio rising, after all, with Pluto in the 8th house!), was lionized by the grandchildren of the original audiences for his films. Groucho’s chart shows him to be a bit of a trickster, a shapeshifter who appears in many different guises (just check out any of his movies) who eventually becomes a timeless pop culture icon.


—Valerie Sylvester, October 2, 2012—

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