Leonard Marx, better known by his stage name Chico Marx, was the eldest of the Marx Brothers, who rose to prominence in the entertainment industry in the early twentieth century. He was a comedian and actor who played a pleasant yet dimwitted Italian character in the brothers’ numerous acts. He not only wore a curly-haired wig and a Tyrolean hat to complete the appearance, but he also spoke with an Italian accent. Despite the fact that Marx spent the majority of his life gambling and womanizing, he was gifted with a keen business acumen. The Marx Brothers were able to secure a contract with MGM and make a lot of money as a result of his commercial skills. However, due to his lifelong gambling addiction and predilection for chasing women, he was unable to manage his own fortune, which remained elusive. Despite this, his antics garnered him a lot of attention and popularity.
Childhood and Adolescence
Chico Marx was born in New York City to Sam and Minni Schoenberg Marx as Leonard Marx. His Jewish ancestors were Franco-German. His father was a tailor by trade. He became the eldest of the Marx Brothers after the death of the couple’s first son, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo. He began gambling at a young age and was only lightly supervised by his parents, which only served to exacerbate his bad habit.
He spent a large portion of his father’s money and even traded his father’s scissors to fund his gambling habit. In the form of betting, he gambled at card games, horse and dog races, and numerous sporting events. He was a habitual womanizer in addition to his gambling habit. Chico, which literally stood for ‘chicken chasing,’ was given to him as a result of this behavior.
Despite his bad habits, he absorbed his maternal family’s musical tradition and learned to play a variety of instruments, including the piano. He worked as a pianist in a number of clubs when he was younger. He played piano in multiple locations at the same time on several occasions. At the employment site, however, he substituted his brother, who resembled him.
Career of Chico Marx
He began his career as a member of a musical ensemble on the vaudeville circuit with his brother. The brothers, on the other hand, were enraged by the audience’s failure to pay attention to the musical ensemble. They learned they had a knack for comedy when heckling.
Soon after, the Marx Brothers shifted to humor, with him taking on the role of an Italian knucklehead. He added depth to his character by wearing a curly-haired wig, wearing a Tyrolean cap, and speaking with an Italian accent.
The Marx Brothers began their career by doing sketch humor on the vaudeville circuit, which was followed by Broadway productions and radio appearances. It was the popularity of the shows that prompted them to venture into the big screen.
The Marx Brothers’ debut film was ‘The Cocoanuts,’ which was followed by ‘Animal Crackers,’ ‘Monkey Business,’ and ‘Horse Feathers,’ among others. The movies did well for Paramount Pictures.
Their second picture, Duck Soup, was released and failed, prompting them to sign a deal with MGM. Because of his relationship with Hollywood heavyweight Irving Thalberg, this was possible. After that, they wrote the famous “Night at the Opera,” which was followed by “A Day at the Races.” They even made the movie ‘Go West,’ in which he tries to appease an Indian chief who has been duped by Groucho.
Surprisingly, his persona appeared to be authentically Italian in the majority of the brothers’ films. ‘The Big Store,’ ‘Monkey Business,’ and ‘The Cocoanuts’ are just a few of these films. He performed a piano and violin duet with Mr Lyons in the Marx Brothers’ most recent film, ‘Love Happy.’ Following his mother’s death, he became the group’s manager. His flashy manner and gambling habits caused his brothers to take over the finances, despite the fact that he brought in fantastic deals for the company. He was supposedly placed on a set stipend.
He continued to perform after his brothers retired from show business because of his gambling habit, in order to pay off the debts he accrued while gambling. In the 1930s and 1940s, after his brothers retired, he led the Chico Marx Orchestra, which featured Mel Torme as the lead singer. He even made appearances at the vaudeville venues where he started his career.
The Marx Brothers reunited in 1946 for the film ‘A Night in Casablanca,’ in order to help support his bottom line after he filed for bankruptcy. The proceeds from the film provided him with a monthly stipend, which he continued to receive for the remainder of his life.
Personal History and Legacy
In his lifetime, he married twice. In 1917, he gave the first to Betty Karp. The next year, the couple welcomed their first child, Maxine. His adultery, on the other hand, hampered the alliance. After a long relationship, the two decided to call it quits. In 1958, he married a second time, this time to Mary De Vithas. He passed just three years later at his Hollywood home due to arteriosclerosis. He was laid to rest in a crypt in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California’s Freedom Mausoleum.
Estimated Net Worth
Chico is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors in Hollywood. Chico Marx’s net worth is estimated to be at $3 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
He was the oldest of the Marx Brothers, and he was known for his outgoing attitude, gambling habit, and proclivity for women.