IMT: cheeks

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The word of inspiration on Inspire Me Thursday is “cheeks”.
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When Harpo Marx was a kid in New York, he perfected “The Gookie” — his signature, sure-fire, laugh-getting face. Harpo worked “The Gookie” into every comedy act and movie for his entire career. The face — involving the puffing of the cheeks, the crossing of the eyes and a fat, lolling tongue sticking out of the mouth — had its beginnings in an unusual spot.

Gookie rolled cigars in a storefront on Lexington Avenue. Harpo was fascinated by this man. He was stocky, with skin the color of the cigar leaves he rolled. He wore elastic bands around his dirty shirt sleeves to keep them from interfering in his work. While he worked, he unconciously made the face. Harpo would stand and stare for hours, making mental notes with which to perfect the “Gookie” face. Harpo would then go home and practice making the face in the mirror. One day he felt he had it down perfectly. He stood in front of ther cigar store window and rapped on the glass. When the annoyed cigar roller looked up, Harpo “threw him a  Gookie”. He became enraged. His anger caused him to make the face with even more intensity. This was the reaction Harpo was looking for. Harpo taunted Gookie with his own face for years.

Harpo credits Gookie for inspiring his acting career.




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