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Married and divorced twice (two children by the first marriage, one by the second), he lives with a pair of servants in a 15-room Beverly Hills house. He does all the shopping. Afternoons, he works on the two dozen fruit trees that stand on his back lawn; he is a martyr to what Robert Benchley described as dendrophilism, which might be described as tree-tickling. Groucho takes excellent care of himself: he plays golf, never has more than two drinks at a party, and always leaves at midnight, even parties where he is the host. His only excess is cigars. One of his favorite occupations is sit ting for long hours in his den strumming Gilbert & Sullivan (at which he is an expert) on his guitar. He is also an expert on the novels of Henry James. Having had hardly any for mal education, Groucho, by dint of greedy reading, has made himself a well-read man. His friends are endlessly amazed at his mastery of the contents of magazines which they regard as highbrow (Atlantic, Harper's, Saturday Review of Literature, etc.).
THOSE WHO know Groucho best insist that beneath his brash exterior lies a shy, thoughtful and kindhearted man.
"The guy doesn't mean to be insulting," Songwriter Harry Ruby says. "It's an involuntary motion with him, like a compulsion neurosis." When Groucho won the Peabody Award for being Radio's Best Comedian of the Year, it turned out that he had never heard of the awards or of the late George Foster Peabody, in whose honor the award was named. "It's a good thing the guy died," Groucho ad-libbed: "otherwise we couldn't have won any prizes." From Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Fred Allen or Ed Wynn, such a crack might have seemed outrageous. From Groucho it was merely funny.