Marx on Paper
Here's a letter from The New Yorker's founding editor, Harold Ross, to Groucho Marx. The letter is dated April 4, 1929.
We cut this as I said we would. Read it over, and if you have any objection, let me know soon as we are going to use it right away.
About your writing more, you are a fairly well known figure, and as I told you when I first suggested that you write for us, other magazines are bound to offer you more if they like your stuff at all. They buy names, and pay for them. We don't. We would not pay you any more than an unknown writer.
It is literally true that I was after Will Rogers to write before he ever broke forth. I was [editor of] Judge at the time, and I could have had him writing for that magazine, I think. After I nibbled at him, then dropped him, Life took up his stuff. They couldn't hold him long because the big boys went after him. Now he is as recognized a writer as he is an actor. I don't know whether you could attain that or not, but you have a gift which, perchance, can be reflected successfully on paper. I would certainly keep on writing something if I were you, and give it a whirl, whether you write for us or not.
I am honestly unselfish most of the time, and not just an impractical dreamer -- I am being eighty five percent unselfish in this.