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Al Shean
Shean in The Blue Bird (1940 film)
Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg

(1868-05-12)May 12, 1868
DiedAugust 12, 1949(1949-08-12) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York City, NY, U.S.
Other namesAdolf Schönberg
Alfred Schönberg
Albert Schönberg
Occupation(s)Comedian, vaudevillian
Years active1912–1944
SpouseJohanna Davidson
RelativesMinnie Schönberg (sister)
The Marx Brothers (nephews)

Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg[1][2][3][4][5] (May 12, 1868 – August 12, 1949), known as Al Shean, was a comedian and vaudeville performer. Other sources give his birth name variously as Adolf Schönberg, Albert Schönberg, or Alfred Schönberg.[6] He is most remembered for being half of the vaudeville team Gallagher and Shean, and as the uncle of the Marx Brothers (Leonard Joseph "Chico" Marx, Adolph (Arthur) "Harpo" Marx, Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, Milton "Gummo" Marx and Herbert Manfred "Zeppo" Marx).[7]

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Al Shean, Sam J. Curtis, Arthur F. Williams, Ed C. Mack - The Original Manhattan Comedy Four in "It's Nudding" 1898-99

Shean was born in Dornum, Kingdom of Prussia on May 12, 1868, the son of Fanny and Levi or Louis Schoenberg. His father was a magician. His sister, Minnie, married Sam "Frenchie" Marx; their sons would become known as the Marx Brothers.

After making a name for himself in vaudeville, Shean teamed up with Edward Gallagher to create the act Gallagher and Shean. While the act was successful, the men apparently did not like each other much. After their act's final Ziegfeld Follies pairing, Shean went on to perform solo in eight Broadway shows, even playing the title character in Father Malachy's Miracle.

Shean had some solo film roles: as the piano player, known as "The Professor" in San Francisco (1936), as grandfather in The Blue Bird (1940), as a priest in Hitler's Madman (1943), and in some three dozen other films. He and Gallagher also made an early sound film at the Theodore Case studio in Auburn, New York, in 1925.[8]

He died on August 12, 1949.[9]


Shean's son, also named Al Shean, worked on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.[10]

Shean is reputed to have written the Marx Brothers' first (moderately) successful vaudeville sketch on butcher paper at Minnie and Frenchie's kitchen table one night while he was visiting.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1934 Music in the Air Dr. Walter Lessing Film debut
1935 Traveling Saleslady Schmidt
Page Miss Glory Mr. Hamburgher
1936 The King Steps Out Ballet Master Uncredited
San Francisco The Professor
1937 The Road Back Markheim
Live, Love and Learn Professor Fraum
52nd Street Klauber
The Prisoner of Zenda Orchestra Leader Uncredited
Rosalie Herman Schmidt Uncredited
1938 Too Hot to Handle Gumpert Uncredited
The Great Waltz Cellist Uncredited
1939 Broadway Serenade Herman
1940 The Blue Bird Grandpa Tyl
1941 Ziegfeld Girl Al
1943 Hitler's Madman Father Cemlanek
Crime Doctor Dave - Convict Uncredited
1944 Atlantic City Himself Final film

See also


  1. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (2003). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 258. ISBN 1-905287-11-9.
  2. ^ "The Marx Brothers Family". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Abraham Elieser Adolf SCHONBERG". FamilySearch International Genealogical. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  4. ^ Vaudeville, old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performers. Frank Cullen,Florence Hackman,Donald McNeilly. 2007. ISBN 9780415938532. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  5. ^ Louvish, Simon (2000). Monkey Business.The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers. St. Martin's Press. p. 471. ISBN 0-312-25292-7.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (2003). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. London: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 258. ISBN 1-905287-11-9.
  7. ^ "Al Shean, Old Vaudeville Star, Is 80. 'Absolutely, Mr. Gallagher,' He's Doing Fine". The New York Times. May 12, 1948. Retrieved November 29, 2014. Al Shean of Gallagher Shean fame, will celebrate his eightieth birthday today, but -- "absolutely, Mr. Gallagher" -- he does not consider it a noteworthy event.
  8. ^ "Gallagher and Shean". CBX Media. November 19, 2003. Archived from the original on November 19, 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  9. ^ "Al Shean Rites Held, 150 in Theatrical Field Attend Service for Veteran Trouper". The New York Times. August 16, 1949. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  10. ^ "Alan Shean". IMDb.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 December 2023, at 21:16
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