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Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg[1][2][3][4][5] (12 May 1868 – 12 August 1949), known as Al Shean, was a comedian and vaudeville performer. Other sources give his birth name variously as Adolf Schönberg, Albert Schönberg, or Alfred Schönberg.[6] He is most remembered for being half of the vaudeville team Gallagher and Shean, and as the uncle of the Marx Brothers.[7]

Al Shean
Al Shean in The Blue Bird.JPG
Shean in The Blue Bird (1940 film)
Born Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg
(1868-05-12)12 May 1868
Dornum, Province of Hanover, Kingdom of Prussia,
North German Confederation
Died 12 August 1949(1949-08-12) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Other names Adolf Schönberg
Alfred Schönberg
Albert Schönberg
Occupation Comedian
Years active 1912–1944
Spouse(s) Johanna Davidson
Children 1
Relatives Minnie Schönberg (sister)
The Marx Brothers (nephews)



Al Shean, Sam J. Curtis, Arthur F. Williams, Ed C. Mack - The Original Manhattan Comedy Four in "It's Nudding" 1898-99

Shean was born in Dornum, Germany, on 12 May 1868, the son of Fanny and Levi or Louis Schoenberg. His father was a magician. His sister, Minnie, married Sam "Frenchie" Marx; their children would become the Marx Brothers.

After making a name for himself in vaudeville, Shean teamed up with Edward Gallagher to create the act Gallagher and Shean in the 1920s. While the act was successful, the men apparently did not like each other much. After their act's final Ziegfeld Follies pairing, Shean went on to perform solo in eight Broadway shows, even playing the title character in Father Malachy's Miracle.

Shean had some solo film roles: as the piano player, known as "The Professor" in San Francisco (1936), as a priest in Hitler's Madman (1943), as grandfather in The Blue Bird (1940), and in some three dozen other films. He and Gallagher also made an early sound film at the Theodore Case studio in Auburn, New York, in 1925.[8]

He died on 12 August 1949.[9]


Shean's son, also named Al Shean, worked on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (2003). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 258. ISBN 1-905287-11-9.
  2. ^ "The Marx Brothers Family". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Abraham Elieser Adolf SCHONBERG". FamilySearch International Genealogical. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  4. ^ Vaudeville, old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performers. Frank Cullen,Florence Hackman,Donald McNeilly. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  5. ^ Louvish, Simon (2000). Monkey Business.The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers. St. Martin's Press. p. 471. ISBN 0-312-25292-7.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (2003). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. London: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 258. ISBN 1-905287-11-9.
  7. ^ "Al Shean, Old Vaudeville Star, Is 80. 'Absolutely, Mr. Gallagher,' He's Doing Fine". The New York Times. May 12, 1948. Retrieved 2014-11-29. Al Shean of Gallagher Shean fame, will celebrate his eightieth birthday today, but -- "absolutely, Mr. Gallagher" -- he does not consider it a noteworthy event.
  8. ^ "Gallagher and Shean". CBX Media. 2003-11-19. Archived from the original on November 19, 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  9. ^ "Al Shean Rites Held, 150 in Theatrical Field Attend Service for Veteran Trouper". The New York Times. August 16, 1949. Retrieved 2014-11-29.

External linksEdit