In birth order, they are:
CHICO MARX (1887–1961), born Leonard Marx
HARPO MARX (1888–1964), born Adolph Marx
GROUCHO MARX (1890–1977), born Julius Henry Marx
GUMMO MARX (1892–1977), born Milton Marx
ZEPPO MARX (1901–1979), born Herbert Marx.
THE BACKGROUND STORY:
The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act, successful in Vaudeville, Broadway and motion pictures. The core of the group were Groucho, Harpo and Chico who starred in all fourteen Marx Brothers films. Although considered to be the funniest of the five brothers by the family Marx, Zeppo ironically appeared only in the first five films, as the straight man to his three zany brothers. Gummo was not present in any of the films. By that point, he already had left acting to pursue a military career. Later, however, he joined Zeppo as the trio's manager. Gummo also was very successful as a theatrical agent.
All of the Marx Brothers were gifted musically. Harpo, the most accomplished, learned to play an estimated six different instruments throughout his career. It was his great talent for playing the harp that gave him his nickname. Chico was an excellent pianist. Groucho played the guitar and sang. Zeppo was a vocalist. On Vaudeville, Gummo sang with Groucho and Zeppo in the group, "The Three Nightingales", which Harpo later joined renaming the group, "The Four Nightingales". When their mother Minnie and Aunt Hannah joined the group, it changed to "The Six Mascots".
It was through performing their comedy act on stage that each brother developed his own distinct character that he brought to the screen. Each created his own look as well, because without costumes, most people could not tell the brothers apart. Groucho wore a greasepaint mustache and walked with a stoop. Harpo didn't speak, wore a fright wig and carried a taxi-cab horn. Chico spoke with a fake Italian accent. Zeppo played the role of the romantic straight man.%
A fine place to start is by viewing: Duck Soup (1933)? All four Marx Brothers can be seen here. Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly. Harpo plays Pinky. Chico plays Chicolini. Zeppo plays Lt Bob Roland - Firefly's aide-de-camp.
See that and watch them in the following four films:
A Night at the Opera (1935) This is my favorite. Groucho plays Otis B. Driftwood. Harpo plays Tomasso. Chico plays Fiorello.
A Day at the Races (1937) Groucho plays Dr. Hackenbush. Harpo plays Stuffy. Chico plays Tony.
Animal Crackers (1930) Groucho plays Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding. Harpo plays The Professor. Chico plays Signor Emanuel Ravelli. Zeppo plays Horatio Jamison.
At the Circus (1939) Groucho plays Attorney Loophole. Harpo plays Punchy. Chico plays Antonio.
*Contributed by: "Tim Smith" Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 / 20:12:02 PDT
The Marx Brothers "THE BACKGROUND STORY" contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph"