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Date of Birth : Mar 22nd 1887

He was originally nicknamed Chicko for his reputation as a ladies’ man, or a “chicken chaser” in the popular slang of the day. A typesetter accidentally dropped the “k” in his name and it became Chico. It was still pronounced [t??ko?] although those who were unaware of its origin tended to pronounce it [?i?ko?]. Radio recordings from the 1940s exist where announcers and fellow actors mispronounce the nickname, but Chico apparently felt it was unnecessary to correct them. As late as the 1950s, even Groucho used the wrong pronunciation for comedic effect. A guest on You Bet Your Life told the quizmaster she came from Chico, California and Groucho responded that he had a brother named “Cheek-oh.” (Chico can sometimes be spotted in cutaways to the studio audience, out of character and costume.)

Marx used an Italian accent for his on-stage character; stereotyped ethnic characters were common with Vaudeville comedians. All the Marx brothers at some point in their careers performed “dialect characters,” but Chico was the only one to continue this into his films in 1926


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Monkey Business ( 1931 )

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