Susan Fleming appeared in three Broadway shows and twenty-eight films before she turned her back on a show business career she never really enjoyed or wanted. The role of her lifetime came when she married Harpo Marx in 1936. Together, they raised four adopted children and enjoyed one of Hollywood's happiest and most successful unions. But their twenty-year age difference made Susan a young widow in 1964.
On her path to Hollywood, Susan worked in Broadway musicals produced by Florenz Ziegfeld and George White and befriended a young dancer who would later be known as Paulette Goddard. In Hollywood, she appeared in films with stars like John Wayne, W.C. Fields, and Katharine Hepburn and worked at all the major studios. But it wasn't until she fell in love with a confirmed bachelor, twenty years older than her, that she found her purpose. Her story is the counterpoint to the beloved and acclaimed Harpo Marx autobiography, Harpo Speaks! Susan's frank, opinionated perspective provides a true look behind the curtain and details Harpo's last years, following the publication of his own book.
Susan's account of her more than thirty-year adventure with Harpo includes encounters with people like Charlie Chaplin, William Randolph Hearst, Salvador Dalí, Somerset Maugham, Joan Crawford, Howard Hughes, George S. Kaufman, Helen Keller, Oscar Levant, Jean Harlow, Bugsy Siegel, Samuel Goldwyn, Menachem Begin, Ginger Rogers, Alexander Woollcott, and of course, the Marx Brothers. Susan provides an inside look at the family and pulls no punches when discussing her brothers-in-law, who weren't always her favorite comedians.
Co-author Robert S. Bader has previously chronicled the Marx Brothers in Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and Groucho Marx and Other Short Stories and Tall Tales (Applause, 2011). He is also a documentary filmmaker. Bader's film, Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (HBO, 2020) was recently honored with a Critics' Choice Documentary Award. His next film, Groucho & Cavett, will premiere on the PBS series American Masters in 2022. Bader also manages intellectual property for celebrity estates including Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and the Marx Brothers.