Chico Marx

Chico Marx


3/22/1887, New York City, New York, United States



Birth Name

Leonard Marx



Also Known As

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Leonard "Chico" Marx was a comedian, bandleader and actor. He was the oldest of the Marx Brothers team. He was a habitual gambler and womanizer in real life and was also chronically short of money. Nonetheless, he was not a mean-spirited person and even those whom he'd hurt…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • When his daughter Maxine split from her husband and was struggling financially Chico said to her "I wish I were Groucho so I could help you". She replied by saying "I wouldn't trade you in for any of my uncles, you're the best in the world". Maxine has always been happy that she said that.

    • Chico and his brothers made their movie debut as a comedy team in the 1929 film The Cocoanuts. Previously, there had been a silent Marx Brothers film but only Groucho and Harpo appeared.

    • The only reason the Marx Brothers made their last two films as a team, A Night in Casablanca and Love Happy, was because Chico needed the money.

    • Chico's first wife, Betty, refused to purchase a house with him for fear that he would end up losing it gambling.

    • The brothers' mother, Minnie, was the group's original manager but when she passed away, Chico took over the job.

    • Chico was his mother's favorite among the Marx brothers. She frequently let him get away with shenanigans she wouldn't tolerate from the others. This might have stemmed from the fact that the firstborn son of the Marx family had died in infancy and Minnie Marx (Chico's mother) overcompensated when her second son was born.

    • Chico met his first wife, Betty, when he was playing in a vaudeville house in Pittsburgh. She was only 15 at the time.

    • Chico was the only Marx Brother who did a stand-up comedy routine.

    • Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis once said that Chico was one of his piano playing idols.

    • Chico once threatened to have actor Ray Milland bumped off after Milland made a drunken pass at his daughter.

    • Chico starred in a short-lived TV series for NBC entitled The College Bowl which aired in 1950–51.

    • The last movie in which Chico and his brothers appeared as a comedy team was 1949's Love Happy.

    • Chico's daughter, Maxine, wrote a book about his life entitled Growing Up with Chico.

    • Chico made a commercial for Prom shampoo in the 1950s.

    • As one of the Marx Brothers, Chico was voted 62nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine.

    • In 1952, Chico appeared on the game show I've Got a Secret pretending to be his brother Harpo and fooled the panel which included brother Groucho.

    • Chico's son-in-law, Shamus Culhane, was an illustrator for Disney.

    • A check from Chico was found in the wallet of gangster Bugsy Siegel when he was gunned down.

    • Chico was the nephew of famed vaudevillean Al Shean.

    • Chico was married to Betty Carp from 1917–40 and to Mary De Vithas from 1958 until his death in 1961.

    • Chico was 5 feet, 6 inches tall.

    • Chico's name was pronounced Chick-o not Cheek-o. He got the name because he was often chasing women during his younger days.

    • Singer Mel Torme got his show biz start singing with Chico's band.

    • Chico is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetary in Glendale, CA.

    • Chico's father, Sam, was a tailor whose nickname was Frenchie.

    • In the 1930s, Chico and Groucho had a radio show in which they played a pair of lawyers named Beagle and Shyster.

    • Chico once had an orchestra entitled Chico Marx and his Ravellis. Ravellis was taken from a character in one of his movies.

    • Chico was an expert pool player who rarely lost unless he was dumping a game to increase betting odds.

    • Chico's daughter and only child, Maxine, was a radio actress who later became a casting director.

    • According to brother Groucho, Chico during his younger days would frequently hock family possessions in order to get gambling money or pay off gambling debts.

    • Besides his Italian accent, Chico could also do other dialects such as Irish, French, and German.

    • Chico was slated to appear with his brothers, Groucho and Harpo, in a proposed television comedy series pilot: Deputy Seraph in the early 1960s. Some footage was shot, but the series never came to fruition due to a lack of funding and Chico's failing health.

  • Quotes

    • Chico: The first crap game I ever played in I lost $47,000 in one night, but I learned as I went along. In time I was able to lose much more than that.

    • Chico: (in response to how much money he'd lost gambling) Ask Harpo. As much money as he has, that's how much money I've lost.

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