As a part of the greatest comedy teams of all time, Chico Marx was a treasured performer. With his broad Italian accent and sloped hat, he would mangle English and irritate brother Groucho in film after film. His character seemed dim but was street smart, much like the man in real life.
Born Leonard, he got the name Chico (pronounced Chick-oh) because he was a ‘chicken chaser’ meaning, he went after the young ladies. After mother Minnie Marx died, Chico took over management of the group. He led them through some of the most lucrative deals of that era.
Though he was a cut-throat business man, he was also a gambler. When asked how much money he lost gambling, he once said, “Find out how much money Harpo’s got. That’s how much I’ve lost.”
Perhaps his greatest addition to the group was his ability to play the piano. Though not a technical master of the keys, he was a showman. He would shoot the upper keys with his finger as if his hand were a gun. After the group disbanded, Chico fronted a big band that toured the land for years.
Just a few lines from the movies:
- “I wasn’t kissing her, I was whispering in her mouth.”
- “Mustard’s no good without roast beef.”
Chico passed away on October 11. 1961. He can still be seen on Turner Classic Movies in such films as Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races.[social-bio]