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The Marx Brothers
Marxology - Chico's Dalmatian Wedding


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Chico's Dalmatian Wedding

It was fellow Marxonian Matthew Hahn who in the Marx Brothers Council of Facebook in early 2014 wondered about Chico's involvement in a 1953 German movie called Einmal kehr' ich wieder (Once I Will Return). We soon found that the internet - led by IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) - was full of references to Chico Marx appearing in this film.

The idea isn't that far-fetched. At the time, films were made in Europe by both Laurel & Hardy (Atoll K a.k.a. Utopia in 1951) and Buster Keaton (Un duel à mort in 1952) and Chico did visit both Britain and Germany in 1949. There would have been time to film a cameo, especially a live piano performance. When Chico visited Australia in 1948, a short sequence of him playing the piano was included in a newsreel and a similar thing could have happened in Germany. The only problem was that no Marxonian had ever seen or heard of a Chico cameo in Einmal kehr' ich wieder .

Further research in the Marx Brothers Council of Facebook showed that the film was a joint West German/Yugoslav production, a romantic comedy also known as Dalmatinische Hochzeit in German and Dalmatinska svadba in Serbo-Croatian (both meaning Wedding in Dalmatia) and that it took place at the Dalmatian coast and in the port of Dubrovnik. To be honest it looked like a nice setting for Chico Marx to play a tune or two on his piano!

A cast list soon popped up, showing that Chico - billed without his last name - played a character named Farbiger Koch. Strangely enough, there was also a character named Farbige Stewardess Mary, played by Vickie Henderson. I quickly realized that these were not names but rather descriptions in German, meaning "coloured chef" and "coloured stewardess Mary".

And sure enough, Vickie Henderson was indeed "coloured", being an African American dancer who appeared in several films. But what was the thing about Chico playing a coloured chef? Did he appear in blackface? Or was it all a mistake? Could it be another Chico and was that the explanation for the missing last name?

I soon found the answer in an article written by Golf Dornseif. Published in Washington Afro-American 3 November 1953, the article revealed that Vickie Henderson's dancing partner was in fact from Britain and named Pat Chico! Another contemporary cast list added that Farbiger Koch was played by "Chico, London".

Someone in our 21st century must have assumed that this "Chico" was in fact Chico Marx, therefore adding that info to the IMDb from where it spread over the net. I haven't found anything more about Pat Chico, and while most sources still claim that a top-billed Chico Marx was involved in that Dalmatian wedding, he never was!

Elma Karlowa

Chico Marx arriving from London at the Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Frankfurt, 17 May 1949, for a five-day tour (including filming a cameo for Einmal kehr' ich wieder ? )