Tag Archives: The Marx Brothers

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Hank Rosenfeld, author of “The Wicket Wit of the West”


Author interview with Hank Rosenfeldfrontcover1aero_hank_and_irv_onstageaero_marquee050

1. Tell us about your latest book.

THE WICKED WIT OF THE WEST by Irving Brecher as-told-to-me is a “freak” of a book, according to my 94-year-old writing partner Irv. Not a bio, not a memoir, but it chronicles his life writing comedies for the Marx Brothers (Groucho gave him the name “Wicked Wit of the West” when Irv punched up “The Wizard of Oz”. Harpo called him Irv “The Nerve”), seven musicals at MGM including “Meet Me In St. Louis,” and created the first “sitcom” in 1949: “The Life of Riley,” starring Jackie Gleason. In fact, the show won the first Emmy in 1950.

The complete title of the book is THE WICKED WIT OF THE WEST: The last great Golden Age screenwriter on the hilarity and heartache of working with Groucho, Garland, Gleason, Berle, Burns, Benny & many more

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I remember writing stories in 5th grade Macdowell Elementary in Detroit, as part of a stay-after-school class in Detroit that was so great, we were given Hershey bars down the hallway afterward class.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I pass the time strolling in a midtown-reverie until it’s time to get to the library and put all distractions aside (except they have a lovely BOOKMARK CAFE here at the new downtown Santa Monica Public Library….Then home for dinner and Jim Lehrer Newshour and The Daily Show and read until asleep.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

At home: A ripped up-upholstered chair, a  room full of paper, books on shelves and floor, on all sides, files of clips and articles, and the radio, the chief distractor-in-chief.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Letters of Groucho (Marx), Henry Miller On Writing, Bird by Bird by Annie LaMott

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Groucho, Harpo and Chico. I’m 53 but feel 35 inside, acting out the spirit of Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx!

7. Favorite quote:

“Writing a book is like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little way in front of you, but you keep going.” E.L. Doctorow.  “A Jew should be in the world, but not of the world.” My rabbi.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

I love the hours. I hate sitting and stuggling to say something.

9. Advice for other writers


10. Tell us a story about your writing experience

Once in a movie theater Men’s Room in NYC, I began haranguing a writer, William Burroughs. I compared his writing to Henry Miller’s, praising Miller to the hilt. Suddenly, William Burroughs came out of a bathroom stall.

 Where can people buy your book?

You can buy it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites. The website with my web log wherein to find out more is www.irvbrecher.com