Born in 1887, the 2nd child of Samuel & Minnie Marx and revered as the eldest of the Marx brothers (the first-born son, Manfred passed away during infancy from tuberculosis), Chico Marx was originally named Leonard and his mother’s favorite child.
Legend has it he was nicknamed Chicko for his delight in chasing women, or “chicken chasing” as it was known then. A typesetter accidentally dropped the ‘k’ and the spelling of Chico (pronounced Chick-oh not Cheek-oh) stuck.
He had a great ear for imitating accents and was renowned for his amiable, trickster Italian persona, and just as infamous for his compulsive gambling. The Marx family was highly musical. Chico took piano lessons as a young boy. His playing style was lively, incorporating many vaudeville antics, including ‘shooting the keys’ which he made famous.