Happy birthday, Chico Marx! I’m going out to arrange your bail.

Today is Chico Marx’s birthday. Born in 1887(!), top height 5’6″, greatest phony Italian accent ever mysteriously assumed by a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn.

By most accounts, he was as breezy and confident in real life as he was in the films. Christened Leonard, the oldest of the five Marx brothers, he picked up the 1920’s slang nickname “Chicko” (pronounced “chick-o”) because of his penchant for “chicken chasing,” meaning pretty much what you see in the movies: He liked to chase-a da wimmin.

If you’d rather preserve your impression of Chico as a loveable scamp, please do not Google “Chico Marx Tallulah Bankhead.” Someone once asked his first wife why she put up with all his outrageous philandering for so many years, and she answered that she shouldn’t; but when he would walk in the room and turn those brown eyes on her, she went weak in the knees every time.

Why is he Italian? No one is really sure. Reportedly, he always had a knack for accents, which he used as camouflage to keep various ethnic gangs from beating him up.

Here is one of the greatest monologues of all time in any medium in all of history. I won’t set it up, because the only context is: This is Chico Marx.

He would have been 130 years old today! God rest his soul.

Image by Insomnia Cured Here via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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