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Chico Marx

Leonard Marx, known as Chico, (March 22, 1887 - October 11, 1961) was one of the Marx Brothers.

Originally nicknamed Chicko because in those days women were referred to as chicks and the guys who chased them as chicken chasers. A typesetter accidentally dropped the k in his name and it became Chico, but it was still pronounced as if it were Chicko. Chico developed the "Italian" accent he used to convince some roving bullies that he was Italian, not Jewish.

Chico was a talented pianist. As a young boy, he would get jobs playing piano to earn money for the Marx family. Sometimes Chico would even get work playing in two places at the same time. He would acquire the job with his piano playing skills, work for a few nights, and then substitute Harpo on one of the jobs. The two brothers looked so much alike, no one could tell the difference. Harpo however could only play a few tunes on the piano, which often would get both brothers fired.

Chico became manager of the Marx Brothers after their mother, Minnie, died. As manager he cut a deal to get the Marx Brothers a percentage of a film's gross receipts - the first of its kind in Hollywood.

For a while in the 1930s and 1940s Chico lead a big band; young Mel Torme began his professional career singing with the Chico Marx Orchestra.

Chico Marx had a lifelong gambling habit, which usually kept him short of funds, and which compelled him to continue in show business long after his brothers had retired (with the notable exception of Groucho who hosted the long-running televison show "You Bet Your Life"). He had a reputation as a world-class pinochle player. It is said he would throw away good cards (with the knowledge of spectators) to make the play "more interesting".

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Chico Marx Facts

Birth NameLeonard Marx
BirthdayMarch 22, 1887
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathOctober 11, 1961 (age 74)

Selected Filmography

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection
Duck Soup
Inside the Marx Brothers
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Marx Brothers
A Night at the Opera
Monkey Business
Animal Crackers
A Day at the Races
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