It’s really true! And this is fairly hot off the presses. The facts were only corroborated about a year ago, thanks to the miracle of communication that is the Internet, and numerous independent researchers feverishly working to bring you the straight dope.
In 1925, Herbert “Zeppo” Marx appeared in a movie WITHOUT his three famous brothers. The film is the Paramount feature A Kiss in the Dark, featuring Adolphe Menjou and Ann Pennington. Zep’s part is apparently just a walk-on and the film is sadly no longer extant. Researchers had to dig for press accounts that attest to the truth of this story. The manner in which this was discovered and ferreted out is both fascinating and heartening. It shows that even “lost films” leave something behind. Nothing dies forever. Read the whole story here: http://www.marx-brothers.org/marxology/kiss.htm
For more on comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.