Thursday, September 13, 2007

RIP Lou Marks

Thanks to Paul Castiglia for pointing this out to me as I had never even heard of the team of Fisher and Marks, "Philadelphia's own Abbott and Costello". Lou Marks, who died Saturday at the age of 87, and Al Fisher, died 1986, were a nightclub team that formed in 1948 at Frank Palumbo's South Philadelphia entertainment complex, reportedly Sinatra's favorite Philly haunt. The story of their teaming as related in Marks' obituary indicates that they were either well aware of Martin and Lewis's origins in Atlantic City or that the old phony-busboy-heckling-the-featured-performer bit was how a number of comedy teams began. Their film career as a team spanned 1957 to 1958 resulting in Mister Rock and Roll and Country Music Holiday for Aurora Productions, both featuring Ferlin Husky and whichever acts happened to be touring Philadelphia at the time. An unfilmed biopic of Abbott and Costello that was to have starred Fisher and Marks is also mentioned in the obituary, and although the idea sounds dubious, the results couldn't have possibly been more dubious than Bud and Lou, the 1978 TV movie starring Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett (that Fisher and Marks were apparently eager to play Bud and Lou suggests that they weren't overly concerned with being perceived as originals). Have any of you had the good fortune to see Fisher and Marks in action? Let me know!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Fisher and Marks on both versions of THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW (the sitcom and the nighttime talker) in the 1960s. They were
marginally funny, sort of a road-company Allen and Rossi (who didn't
appeal to me either).

Later on, Lou Marks showed up on Bishop's show as a single, doing an extensive "ad-lib" routine involving hats. He also recreated a bit he'd done with Fisher, in which he played "Cheetah" to Bishop's "Tarzan." The gag involved Tarzan trying to interpret Cheeta's monkey-talk ("What's that? Jane has been kidnapped? The Obwiwi tribe is attacking?"), whereupon Marks broke character and said "Would I lie to ya?" Funnnneeee.

Bishop often gave work to his old Philadelphia cronies on his various TV shows. Some were mildly amusing (Fisher and Marks), others were terrible (Harry Morton, whoever he was!)

9:15 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

Thanks for the insights! They sound extremely early-60s "nightclub". I need to track down their two films..

8:10 PM  
Anonymous tommy moore said...

First - don't bother to track down the films, they do NOTHING to tell you of Fisher & Marks' true talents! And the record albums even less so - with the exception of the last cut on the first album "A Beatles World".(Next let me say, as credentials, I'm a 35 year full time stand up comic, and was a teacher of Stand-up Comedy and The History of American Comedy at Temple University - so I'm fairly jaded !) That said -
Lou Marks was one of the funniest comedians that ever lived. He embodied the phrase "A true comedian can make you laugh reading the phone book".
He was a roly-poly, rubber faced,baggy-pants burlesque style clown in a nightclub tuxedo.
Major comedy stars knew and revered him. But he never wanted to leave his home city of Philadelphia, so he became a legend in and around Philly, A.C.,& The Poconos.
He could make your grandmother or a five year old, a nun or a dock worker laugh with equal ease.
Over the years he partnered with Al Fisher,and after Al's death, Dave Michaels, Jim Crane, Frankie Mayo, Phil Dano, and Bobby Burnett.
The team(F/M) opened not only for Joey Bishop, but for Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy Durante, and many more.
Lou Marks comic ability could truly be mentioned as being on the same level as Bert Lahr, and as with Lahr, his face and delivery only got funnier with age!
Sadly, with the exception of possible home videos of nightclub performances, no record of their true impact exists.
Their act was a patchwork of vaudeville, burlesque, and nightclub bits, but as with
any material, a master can "breath new life into it".
Lou Marks was a Master Comedian.
-Tommy Moore
P.S. - Great Blog!

1:02 PM  
Blogger Lindee said...

WOW - this is a rather old post - but the link was still active. YEARS ago - early 80's - I was in a band that featured an Elvis impersonator. We were booked to work the Holiday Inn in Wildwood Crest NJ - for whatever reason - the Holiday Inn backed out of the contract and brought in Fischer and Marks for the summer. I went to see them and thought they were wonderful! Very funny - and they fit together like a hand in glove. I remember they had a back-up band, and I believe was Fischer's wife who sang with them. I felt they were every bit as good as Abbott abd Costello! A parting thought - their humor was clean and wholesome - I especially appreciated that!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Terry C, An American Again! said...

Didn't they have a song called "Summertime At the Pier"?

They used to go on the TV show in Philadelphia by the same name and sing it.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember them Cosy Morley in Wildwood NJ

6:17 PM  
Anonymous maria said...

I just found my autographed album of Rome on the Range and it brought back a million memories of these guys when I was a kid. I actually told them a joke that I had made up myself that they went on to use in their act...Loved them....great talents and forever funny to me!

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Cheap Viagra said...

I should say thank you too because I had never listed about that team that's exciting, the article got me crazy.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Barry Wahrhaftig said...

I saw them at Cozy Morley's Club Avalon in 1985. I was playing bass, working with the Four Aces. They came in once or twice and sat in and did some of their act. They were great, very funny. I'm pretty sure that they did the novelty song, 'Loving You has made me Bananas.'

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Barry,The Bananas song was performed not by Lou Marks,but by fellow comedian Guy Marks,who played Joey Bishops agent on his show...Guy Marks also played a sleazy comedian in an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show...Hope this clears this up for you...Tommy Zito

1:12 PM  
Blogger DISPENSA said...

My names Anthony Dispensa Disensa510 on youtube. Formerly of the South Philly Rap Group "NOSTRA". I HAD THE PLEASURE OF WORKING WITH LOU ON THE SINGLE "BELLA NOSTRA' off our "2000" album "Nostra". He was such a gentleman. I pray he rests well. They don't make them like Lou Marks anymore. Wow!!!!! What fun we had. Great guy!! Wish he was here to work with me on my new album. Love ya Lou!!!!! Thank u!!!!! R. I. P!!!!!!! DISPENSA!!!!!!!!! Dispensa510 on youtube. If u don't like rap. Reality based rap, don't check it out!!!!!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Keith Payne said...

I knew Al Fisher and Lou Marks. I am researching for a book I am writing and was sad to find that I probably could've talked to Lou before he died. Apparently, Al died of a heart attack not long after the last time I saw him in Miami. Gibbons and I always had a late dinner and drinks with them after their shows wherever we ran into them. They were great guys. And Lou was just as funny off stage as he was on. One comedy team we knew broke up and Marty Allen never achieved the status he had as Steve Rossi's partner again. But, he and his wife Frenchie were great and wonderful friends. Marty one told me that Lou was the greatest comedian he had ever seen. I am so sorry that none of their acts have survived on film. Such a real shame. Surely they must be somewhere as they opened for some great performers. If anyone ever finds some, please let me know Keith Payne Also,I would like to interview anyone who had personal contact with them. Thanks.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Tricia Drake said...

I'm the granddaughter of Al Fisher (Fichera) and I can tell you firsthand that their act was one of the most hilarious shows you'd have ever seen. My sister and I grew up vacationing "down the shore" in Atlantic City up until he passed away in 1986 - I've seen their show more times than I could count and my sister and I (almost 30 years later!) STILL can do the entire act by heart. Louie was w/o a doubt the most talented true comedian - ask anyone who ever met him - and granddaddy was one fantastic straight man. Nice to hear that people still remember. :) Tricia Drake, Nashville, TN

12:08 PM  
Blogger Claudia Mcpeake said...

Hi All, I am Lou Marks youngest Daughter Claudia. I have saw this Blog several times and I just had to write something. I am alot like my Dad so these are really great to read. Thanks so much to all of you.

I miss my Dad every single day and its been several years that he has past. I will say this my youngest son who is 11 yrs old is my fathers twin. I call him little Louie I swear the things he says and does is my Dad. I say my Dad came back in my son's body lol.... The craziest thing is that my son wants to be an actor and he should be a comedian. He even has a prop box which my Dad had at every show. with all his hats/props for the show. My Dad was the funniest person in the world he would make me laugh daily and he didn't even try to be funny. That is something you are born with.

I love reading all these stories. I am the baby of the family and in my 30's so I don't remember everything that people talk about but I do know this my Dad was the funniest comedian I have ever saw. I have so many crazy pictures and stories of him that I look at and just crack up. I see alot of comedy shows and I mean it, my Dad would go off and just start saying things that weren't even a part of the show. He would have his partner cracking up so bad that he couldn't even talk.

I wish my Dad "Lou Marks" was still here. We just lost my Mother last year by a very bad accident. A nurse gave her the wrong medicine when she went into the hospital for a procedure. Its like a dream, a bad dream.... Life is way too short and I know my Dad lived a very long life because he always laughed and screamed daily lol.... One thing about my father is that he was not afraid of anyone at all and he was like 5 foot lol...

Mom and Dad I love you and always will.
Claudia Franco (Lou Marks Daughter)

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Tommy Moore said...

Here's a YouTube Clip of Lou with Bobby Burnett, incase the link doesn't work, go to YouTube and search Lou Marks The Funniest Man That Ever Lived. Enjoy

6:04 PM  
Blogger Claudia Mcpeake said...

OMG Tommy I love it....How funny. My youngest son is my Dad's twin. Funny thing is that he wants to be a comedian and he is 11yrs old. lol... I am going to get all the tapes we have of my dads show and turn them into DVDs so we can put them online. I will send them to you. Send me your email. Mine is Thanks for that video of my Dad I truly loved it.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tricia,I'm married to al fishers neice, angel fichera.

2:15 PM  

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