I didn’t recognize you standing up.

Hank Rosenfeld spent the better part of six years interviewing Irving Brecher, one of the last of the old Hollywood writers.

The result of their escapades is the as-told-to memoir “The Wicked Wit of the West” (a nickname Groucho Marx gave Brecher). Brecher died last November at 94, two months before the book was published.

Rosenfeld is all L.A., but while interviewing him for my article about him and Brecher,  “Boy Wonder,” I learned that not only did he grow up in Detroit like I did, he also lived one street over from me, on Fairway Drive. There was more. In addition to sharing a crazy adulation for Groucho, we both had E. Bryce Alpern as a pediatrician.

Irv had an adulation with Groucho as well as a friendship. He wrote the Marx Brothers movies At the Circus and Go West, where he gave Groucho this line: “Lulubelle, it’s you! I didn’t recognize you standing up,” and as his brothers try to revive him after a fight: “Forget the water. Force brandy down my throat.”

Rosenfeld is touring to back the book, mostly in California, but I’m sure he’d love you to bring him to your favorite book store, watering hole or house of worship. Perhaps all three are the same place.

For more on Rosenfeld and Brecher (or is it Brecher and Rosenfeld?), click here.



Filed under books

2 responses to “I didn’t recognize you standing up.

  1. Ben Pincus

    David, you said: “Brecher was the creator, writer and director, or some combination, of “The Life of Riley” – a radio program, a movie and a TV show (the latter starring newcomer Jackie Gleason). ”

    The Life of Riley TV Show that I used to watch starred William Bendix.

  2. Ben — you got me doing some research on this. The Brecher book seems to say that Bendix did it on the radio and Jackie Gleason on TV. But I checked another source that said Gleason was the first TV Chester Riley and that Bendix later took over the role.

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