A tour of comedian Groucho Marx's former home, listed for $2.3 million in Great Neck. NewsdayTV's Rachel Weiss reports. Credit: Newsday/Morgan Campbell

On a rainy day in the 1970s, a limousine pulled up to a hulking house on Lincoln Road in Great Neck. At 8 years old, Greg Bruell watched as his grandfather opened the door to find the comedian and actor Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx.

"He opened the door and there’s Groucho standing there, and he recognized him immediately," said Bruell, now 56 and living in Massachusetts. "There were a few other people in the house, but I just remember my grandfather because he went nuts; he went bonkers."

The house was Marx's once, from 1926 to 1931, during the period he was appearing with his brothers on Broadway and later making films for Paramount at its Kaufman Astoria Studios. That visit was a stop on a tour of reminiscence in what would come to be the final years of his life. Today, the five-bedroom, four-bathroom Colonial is on the market for $2.3 million, listed by Abraham Kanfer of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.

The home wears a hunter-green plaque issued by the Great Neck Historical Society, denoting its previous ownership; but the 1923 construction looks different from it did when Marx called it home. 

A white stucco portico with gray shingles was a 2014 modification, as were an expanded primary bedroom with walk-in closets and enlarged living room. The neighborhood has evolved, too, since Marx’s days on Broadway.

"At that time, it wasn’t really so developed," Kanfer said. "It was a lot of woods and just land that he was looking at as opposed to additional houses." 

Still, the half-acre lot is lush and green. The height of surrounding trees far surpasses that of the three-story house. Just beyond a terraced patio, a landscaped yard is marked by peony, azalea, hydrangea, iris and day lily plantings. 

Comedian Groucho Marx once called this Great Neck Colonial home.

Comedian Groucho Marx once called this Great Neck Colonial home. Credit: Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

Bruell’s family has owned the house for 64 years, he said. He grew up there, pretending to be a secret agent in third-floor crawl spaces he called clubhouses. He and his brother ran a telephone between rooms, then between houses when the elder of the two moved across the street. 

"It was a great place to grow up," he said of the neighborhood.

At one time, there were eight people in the house — Greg, his maternal grandparents, his parents and his three siblings. The group swapped bedrooms as if playing musical chairs over the years, he said.

"I actually lived in every single bedroom in that house," he said. There is a bedroom on the first floor, three bedrooms on the second, one on the third.

Although Groucho stopped by just once, Bruell said the comedian and actor has remained a part of the family through his films. He has seen "Duck Soup," "Animal Crackers" and "A Night At The Opera" many times each. His grandfather worked as a projectionist. 

"The fun thing about the Marx Brothers is that it’s now something that, for our family at least, has spanned the generations," said Bruell, who has three children of his own. "My son and I do the routines. Our favorite one is ‘The Contract’ — the party of the first part."

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