GROWING UP WITH CHICO – by Maxine Marx
Maxine Marx’s book about her experience as part of the family that gave us the Marx Brothers is deservedly well-known and much loved by classic movie fans. Her anecdotes are funny, loving and revealing. In some ways, the book doesn’t feel as though it were written by someone in such close proximity to these famous characters, but this jives with her description of the brothers’ closeness. Even the immediate family came after the brothers, and nothing and nobody came between them. Except maybe money.
I enjoyed the tidbit describing Sam “Frenchie” Marx’s gentle nature, which has a lot to say about women in the Marx family. Walking home after viewing The Scarlet Letter at the movies, young Maxine asked her grandpa “why they had put the A on the lady’s dress.” “Pshaw,” he replied. “Pshaw.” After a bit, he added, “Don’t tell der Mamma vhat you saw, yah?”
I knew very little about Chico although he was always my favorite performer in all the movies what with the finger shooting and the “Attsa boy, make a big slam! Make a big, big slam!” Now I am in awe of tough little Betty Marx for putting up with all his shenanigans. Still, Chico manages to come across as charismatic. I’m glad the mafia didn’t whack him after all.
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