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Chico Marx is Dead at 70

Oct. 11, 1961 - Chico Marx, oldest member of the famed Marx Brothers, died today of a heart ailment. He was 70 years old. Chico and his brothers — Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo — created a brand of comedy all their own — joyously irreverent, supremely illogical, and funny to lowbrows and intellectuals alike. Chico was the brother with the pointed hat, the seedy velvet jacket, the deadpan face, and the “Italian” accent. Marx Brothers admirers remember one of Chico’s best lines of dialogue. It came about after some tortured twists of plot to get an elephant into the scene. “Hey, whatsa that?” Chico asked. “That’s irrelevant,” the straight man said. “Thatsa right,” Chico said, triumphantly. His parody of an Italian offended no one because the character came through as an essentially kind and sweet person. Chico, whose given name was Leonard, played the piano, coronet, zither, and violin.


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