There was, I hear, a fad among wealthy young American men in the 1880s and 1890s of affecting a peculiar gait: left hand held with the back to the base of the spine, torso bent slightly forward, right arm allowed to swing as one walked. This was supposedly spoofed by Groucho Marx, who adopted a form of it as his trademark “lope.” Does anyone know who started this, why it was popular, and if it had a particular name or description? Looked all over; only find descriptions, not explanations. Anybody know more about it?
This article quotes Marx on his famous walk:
Where are you finding references to it?
Groucho’s Wikipedia page.
That’s almost like the “Rich Man’s Frug” from “Sweet Charity”.
Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I hope somebody finds the answer.
You still find people walking this way in early silent films, although by the 19-teens it had passed to the lower classes. It was some kind of strut, but that’s too generic a word. I know exactly what you are talking about, though, because I’m a big fan of old films, and I’ve seen this walk. Around the same time, women wore hobble skirts, and big hats, and when passing a man, would actually do a sort of pat to their hat and the back of their skirt (the hobble skirts could ride up), and ended up starting the more-spoofed-than-really-done “sexy walk” with one hand behind their head and one behind their butt.
There are a lot of flirting scenes in the early parts of the Modern Story (aka “The Mother and the Law”) in the 1916 film Intolerance, and you see both walks.
YouTube clip as cite, anyone?
The Groucho most of us know I think, but I’m not picturing the reference.
I think it may ultimately have originated in the “aesthetic” movement’s affectation of exaggeratedly languorous poses, especially in the caricatured version often associated with Oscar Wilde.
And the later images in this article show caricatures of similarly slouchy aesthetes.
And also sort of like “The French Mistake” from Blazing Saddles