1001 W 75TH ST. WOODRIDGE, IL 630-427-1880

Hollywood Memorial

Chico Marx

One of the legendary Marx Brothers along with Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo, Leonard ‘Chico’ Marx was the pianist with a phony Italian accent. Leonard was a serious student of New York’s streets where he learned various accents and gambling (which became a serious, lifelong addiction). He also managed to teach himself to become both a world-class bridge player and pianist using his skills at ‘shooting’ the keys in his movies. He held various jobs, including playing piano at whorehouses, until he joined his brothers’ comedy team in the 1910s. Chico was also extraordinarily successful with women all of his life, much to the frustration of his first wife, Betty. While his stage named is commonly pronounced Cheek –o, it was actually chic-o, named for his always-chasing women –’chics.’ Chico’s character was defined as the dumb, happy ivory tickler, providing the bridge between Groucho and Harpo, who rarely had scenes with each other. (He also forgot his lines and strayed from the set to gamble and chase women.) The brothers disbanded after 1941’s ‘The Big Store’ but later reunited for two more films because the forever-in-debt Chico needed money, the last time when his life was being threatened by mob enforcers over a huge gambling marker. When a check written by Chico was found in mobster Bugsy Siegel’s wallet at the time of his death, Chico was interrogated by police. He insisted the check was payment of a gambling debt from a poker game. When asked about his knowledge of Siegel’s criminal activities, Chico stated, ‘We never discussed business.’ Groucho Marx later said of this incident, ‘Chico was lucky that Bugsy was shot. If Bugsy had tried to cash that check, it would have bounced. Then Bugsy would have shot Chico.’ Chico married his second wife, Mary Dee, in 1959, and died of heart trouble two years later in his small Los Angeles bungalow. His funeral was highlighted by a eulogy from a rabbi who didn’t know him, and his will left $10,000 to his widow. Entombed in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.