American comedian (1887-1961). Real name: Leonard Marx. Born in New York City, Leonard was the oldest child in the family (his older brother Manfred had died in infancy) and was the apple of his mother's eye. He still got into as much mischief as his brothers did, but he didn't get into as much trouble for it.

Chico's schtick in the Marx Brothers was speaking in an outrageous Italian accent. He learned the accent by listening to the many Italians in the neighborhood where he grew up and practiced his routine when he was a kid by using the accent to negotiate his way through various gang-run areas of New York. He was also an accomplished pianist (though his skills on the piano were not as strong as his brother Harpo's skills on the harp), and his piano-playing was often spotlighted in films. He was also said to have had a photographic memory.

Hollywood legends have it that his nickname was originally "Chicko", because he spent so much time chasing chicks. Supposedly, a typesetter accidentally left the "k" out of his name once, and Chico decided he liked the way it looked. However, the proper pronunciation was still supposed to be "Chick-O".

Once the Marx Brothers got started in vaudeville, Chico evolved into something of the group's director: he helped determine the act's format, persuaded his brothers to move on to Broadway and Hollywood, acted as their manager after their previous manager (their mother) retired, and got studio bigshot Irving Thalberg interested in their act.

Despite his good business sense, Chico was often in debt because he was addicted to gambling. He had to continue performing long after his brothers had retired because he'd lost so much money over the years on gambling. In fact, his gambling almost got him into serious trouble once, when a check he'd written was found in the pocket of recently-deceased mobster Bugsy Siegel. He was questioned by the police, but he persuaded them that the check was only a payment for a gambling debt.

Chico played in all of the Marx Brothers' films, including "Humor Risk" (a silent film, screened once and now lost forever), "The Cocoanuts", "Animal Crackers", "Monkey Business", "Horse Feathers", "Duck Soup", "A Night at the Opera", "A Day at the Races", "Room Service", "At the Circus", "Go West", "The Big Store", and "A Night in Casablanca". He died in Hollywood in 1961 of heart disease.

Research from http://www.marx-brothers.org/living/chico.htm and http://www.imdb.com

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