Weird News: Groucho vs. Elvis, Who's More Important?

ByABC News
June 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

Aug. 13, 2002 -- -- They claim he's dead. But we know better.

Call it a conspiracy. A Marxist conspiracy. But I saw Groucho Marx dashing through a hotel gift shop last weekend in Saranac Lake, N.Y., chomping on an oversized cigar.

I admit I'd just driven 300 miles through the night and I may have been high from the smell of scented candles. But I swear, Groucho lives.

There we stood, eye to eye. He cocked his legendary greasepaint brow and said, "I never forget a face But in your case, I'll make an exception."

Sure, I've heard that line before. Who hasn't? But it's a Groucho original. The king of put downs put me down. Insulted by the master! What an honor!

"I can't believe it!" I gushed. "I'm talking with the great Groucho Marx! Are you really alive?"

Groucho, as always, seemed underwhelmed, his great mustache dripping with contempt. "You've got the mind of a 4-year-old boy," he said, stalking off. "And I bet he was glad to get rid of it!"

And before I could say, "Hello, I must be going," he was gone.

Was I crazy? Certainly, scads of Presley fans regularly experience "Elvis sightings." One minute he's pumping gas in Montana, then he's munching on a Big Mac in Oklahoma, or bargain hunting at a Target.

According to news reports, Groucho had died on Aug. 19, 1977, just three days after Elvis. But if one man could leading a secret life, why can't it be a double death hoax? Call Oliver Stone! I think I've plotted his next movie, Elvis and Groucho Lost in America.

Groucho's Terrible Timing

If Groucho really did die, he picked a lousy time to do it. And that's funny, considering the comic was known for his great timing.

In life, he graced the cover of Time twice once in 1932 and again in 1951. Yet editors pushed his obituary (a few measly lines) to the back of the magazine, to make way for Elvis. To quote Groucho: "If that isn't an insult, I don't know what is."

Now, each year, thousands of Presley pilgrims flock to Graceland to mark the anniversary of his death and the news media rehashes the well-worn details of his life.

What about Groucho? It seems we give short shrift to the comic master who once said, "I'd never join a club that would have me as a member." And that's just one of many Groucho-isms.

Woody Allen used that that line in Annie Hall to describe why his relationships always fail. After all, how could he like a woman who likes him? A fair point.