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'Mikado' Remarx

March 13, 1988

It is interesting to note that Jonathan Miller wants Dudley Moore to think Groucho Marx as he portrays Ko-Ko in "The Mikado" ("Gilbert and Sullivan Meet the Marx Brothers," by Donna Perlmutter, March 6).

Although this appears to be a revolutionary approach, it has been attempted once before--by Groucho Marx. Groucho had been a longtime Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiast when NBC asked him to portray Ko-Ko in an April, 1960, telecast of "The Mikado" for "The Bell Telephone Hour."

Aside from the abridging necessary to keep the show to an hour (Groucho referred to the upcoming telecast as a "54-minute rape of Gilbert and Sullivan" in a letter to Nunnally Johnson), it was, essentially, a literal, rather than liberal, presentation.

Nevertheless, many of Groucho's trademark mannerisms and expressions managed to seep through the heavy makeup and, for this, he was trounced by some of the critics.

Despite the controversy, Groucho's "Mikado" was a ratings winner, and there was talk of his tackling "The Pirates of Penzance." Sadly, this never materialized.

STEVE STOLIAR

Sherman Oaks

Stoliar was Marx's personal secretary/archivist for the last three years of his life.

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