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Chico Marx (Leonard)

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Chico Marx

Born: March 22, 1887 in New York City, NY
Died: October 11, 1961 in Hollywood, CA

Chico was the second child in the Marx family, but his older brother Manfred died in infancy, so Chico had the role of the oldest. His given name was Leonard. The legend for his nickname "Chico" says that he got it from chasing "chicks". He was the favorite son of his mother Minnie and it showed in what she let him get away with. He was always willing to take any bet, and would be a life long gambling addict. He was also famous for his way with the opposite sex.

Chico always had a smile, a game of pinochle, and a lady. He was probably the most reckless of the group but it often paid off for them all. It was his ideas and drive that made the other boys hang in there during the tough times. It was Chico who lead them to greater success when he saw the first musical tabloid shows and decided that it was a perfect format for the group. This came at a time when spirits were down over low bookings for the much toured "Mr. Green's Reception". He acted as the Manager of the group right after Minnie was retired. Chico was able to act as the focus of the groups energies and it was this focus which lead the group to Broadway and the silver screen. It was also due to Chico's ability to charm people that the Brothers ended up working with Irving Thalberg.

Chico played in all Marx Brothers vaudeville shows and films. He also did a radio show with Groucho and later worked as a musician. He remained a performer for all his life, often working the same small circuits as an old man that he had worked as a boy. He had to do this because of the amount of money he lost over the years gambling. He was once asked how much money he had lost and his reply was "Ask Harpo how much he's made and that' how much I've lost." Chico died in 1961, after a long battle with heart disease. At his funeral a man stood up and began eulogizing him. He painted a totally inaccurate picture of who Chico Marx had been. It got so bad at one point during the service Harpo leaned over to Maxine and whispered "When I go, do me a favour and hire a mime."

Chico Marx appeared in the following movies:

Film TitleCharacter name
Humor Risk - 1921(Italian)?  
The Cocoanuts - 1929Chico  
Animal Crackers - 1930Signor Emanuel Ravelli  
Monkey Business - 1931A Stowaway  
The House That Shadows Built - 1931  
Horse Feathers - 1932Barovelli  
Hollywood on Parade No.5 - 1932  
Duck Soup - 1933Chicolini  
Hollywood on Parade No.9 - 1933  
A Night at the Opera - 1935Fiorello  
Hollywood: The Second Step - 1936Himself  
A Day at the Races - 1937Tony  
Room Service - 1938Harry Binelli  
At the Circus - 1939Antonio Pirelli  
Go West - 1940Joseph Panello  
The Big Store - 1941Ravelli  
Screen snapshots No. 8 - 1943  
A Night in Casablanca - 1946Corbaccio  
Love Happy - 1949Faustino  
The Story of Mankind - 1957Monk, adviser to Christopher Columbus  
Showdown at Ulcer Gulch - 1958  

Important dates in the life of Chico Marx:

22 Mar 1887Leonard "Chico" Marx is born
Feb 1910When joined by Minnie Marx and aunt Hannah Schickler The Four Nightingales become The Six Mascots
1912Fun in Hi Skule is the first musical sketch of the Brothers. This half-hour 'school act' features the four brothers, Paul Yates and others
1913Mr. Green's Reception is a followup to Fun in Hi Skule
1914Home Again is developed from the second half of Mr. Green's Reception
22 Mar 1917Chico marries Betty Carp
1918In The Cinderella Girl Zeppo replaces Gummo. This musical comedy is written by Jo Swerling with music by Gus Kahn
Jan 1918Maxine, daughter of Chico and Betty, born
1921On the Mezzanine Floor (in England: On the Balcony) a musical revue written by Herman Timberg, produced by Benny Leonard
1921The silent movie Humorisk is made with money raised by a friend. Director is Jo Swerling. It was made in two weeks at Fort Lee, NJ. studios and in a studio at 49th St. and 10th Ave. in New York. No copy exists of this (unfinished?) film.
19 May 1924Stage show I'll say she is, scripted by Will B. Johnstone, opens at the Casino Theater in New York
8 Dec 1925Stage show The Cocoanuts opens at the Lyric and runs for 275 performances, a full season on Broadway, as well as two years on the road.
23 Oct 1928Stage show Animal Crackers opens at the 44th Street Theater and runs for 191 performances. It was laid off the following summer, went on tour in mid-October.
3 Aug 1929Film The Cocoanuts released
6 Sep 1930Film Animal Crackers released
5 Jan 1931The Marxes appear at the London Palace Theatre
19 Sep 1931Film Monkey Business released
31 Aug 1932Film Horse Feathers released
28 Nov 1932Groucho's & Chico's radio series "Beagle, Shyster & Beagle" (later: "Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel") debuts on NBC
24 Nov 1933Film Duck Soup released
22 Nov 1933New York Premiere of "Duck Soup"
15 Nov 1935Film A Night at the Opera released
11 Jun 1937Film A Day at the Races released
30 Sep 1938Film Room Service released
8 Nov 1938Chico appeared on NBC radio's "The Bob Hope Show."
1939The Kellog's Show on radio with Groucho and Chico
20 Oct 1939Film At the Circus released
1940In the 1940s Chico and Betty get divorced
6 Dec 1940Film Go West released
20 Jun 1941Film The Big Store released
20 Dec 1942Chico Marx and his orchestra (with vocalists Mel Torme and Ben Pollack) appeared on "Fitch Bandwagon."
1943Chico has his own band
1944Chico appears in the revue Take a Bow
10 May 1946Film A Night in Casablanca released
5 Oct 1948Chico's TV debut on NBC's Texaco Star Theater
9 Jan 1949The TV programme "Papa Romani" featuring Chico is broadcast on CBS
17 May 1949Chico Marx arrives at Frankfurt/Main, Germany, to begin a five-day tour in which he and a group of English entertainers were to perform at military bases.
3 Mar 1950Film Love Happy released
9 Dec 1950Chico's piece, "Here's my All-American Football Selections for 1950," appeared in TV Forecast; the magazine also had an ad for Chico's show "College Bowl"
20 Jan 1952Chico is a guest on "Celebrity Time" on CBS TV
1953The TV series College Bowl features Chico
8 Nov 1957Film The Story of Mankind released. Chico, Harpo and Groucho appear in this film, but not together in one scene
1958TV production Next to No Time with Chico
Aug 1958Chico marries Mary De Vithas
8 Mar 1959The TV film The Incredible Jewel Robbery is the last film to have three Marx Brothers
16 Oct 1960Chico Marx and Ivan Erdos were pitted against John Gerber and Edith Kemp on ABC television's "Championship Bridge," hosted by Charles Goren (Chico lost horribly).
11 Oct 1961Chico dies of arteriosclerosis
16 Jan 1977The Marxes are inducted to the Motion Picture Hall of Fame
This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

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