Shooting The Keys

Chico Marx playing the piano, photographed by Allison-Lighthall, c. 1956.
Chico Marx at the Piano, c. 1956, photographed by Allison-Lighthall. 1

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.

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Chico Marx Playing Piano from The Marx Brothers films. 2
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Page Sources

We hope.  "Chico Marx at the Piano, taken by Allison-Lighthall. c. 1956."  Photograph.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 18 Nov. 2013.  Web.  1 Oct. 2015.  Public Domain
FairDealDan.  "Chico Marx Playing Piano. 10 Films!! Complete!! (good quality)."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 16 March 2014.  Web. 1 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
Additional References:
  • "Chico Marx Biography: Pianist, Actor, Comedian (1887 – 1961)."  Biography.  A&E Television Networks, LLC, n.d.  Web.  1 Oct. 2015.
  • Cullen, Frank.  "Chico Marx Mini Biography."  IMDB.  IMDb.Com, Inc., 1990 – 2015.  Web.  1 Oct. 2015.
  • Bland, Frank.  "Chico Marx."  Marx-Brothers.Org.  The Marx Brothers, n.d.  Web.  1 Oct. 2015.
  • Gehring, Wes D.  The Marx Brothers: A Bio-Bibliography.  Westport: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1987.  Google Books.  Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
  • Fulcher, Jane F., ed.  The Oxford Handbook of the New Cultural History of Music.  New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2011.  Google Books.  Web 2 Oct. 2015