Marion Zioncheck

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Marion Zioncheck
Marion Zioncheck 1936.jpeg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1933 – August 7, 1936
Preceded byRalph Horr
Succeeded byWarren G. Magnuson
Personal details
Marion Anthony Zioncheck

December 5, 1901 (1901-12-05)
Kęty, Poland (then Austro-Hungarian Empire)
DiedAugust 7, 1936(1936-08-07) (aged 34)
Seattle, Washington, United States
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Rubye Louise Nix

Marion Anthony Zioncheck (December 5, 1901 – August 7, 1936) was an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1933 until his death. He represented Washington's 1st congressional district as a Democrat.

Early life[edit]

Zioncheck was born in Kęty, Poland, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and arrived in Seattle, Washington with his parents four years later. He attended the University of Washington where in 1927 he became president of the student government (ASUW). He also earned a law degree from the University of Washington while making a name for himself as a left-wing leader in the Democratic Party and the Washington Commonwealth Federation, which supported his election to Congress in the 1932 election.


As a U.S. Representative, Zioncheck was known mostly for ardently championing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies. But his tireless work on behalf of the New Deal often was overshadowed by his many personal escapades, which included dancing in fountains and driving on the White House lawn. Beset by the press and by critics of Roosevelt's policies, Zioncheck became depressed and hinted that he might not seek reelection to a third term in 1936.[1] In his diary entry for April 30, 1936, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes recounted how Zioncheck had asked him to officiate at a wedding with his fiancee, Rubye Louise Nix. Ickes demurred, saying that he had no authority to do so; he was aware of Zioncheck's reputation and simply did not want to get involved. Ultimately, Zioncheck went to Annapolis, Maryland for the wedding and San Juan, Puerto Rico for his honeymoon.[2] On August 1, Zioncheck's friend and ally, King County Prosecutor Warren G. Magnuson, took him at his word regarding his retirement plans and filed to run for Zioncheck's House seat.

Marital and mental problems[edit]

Zioncheck at Gallinger Hospital in Washington, D.C.
(Top) Zioncheck holding his hand to his head as photos are taken of him in his hospital bed; (middle) Zioncheck holds up his hands while talking to reporters from his hospital bed; (bottom) Zioncheck wrapped in sheets and bound to a stretcher at Gallinger Hospital.

On May 30, 1936, his wife left him after an argument during a party at their apartment. On June 1, he became frantic and searched Washington, D.C. for her. He was arrested later that day on a lunacy warrant.[3] He was confined in Gallinger Municipal Hospital Psychopathic Ward, during which his wife returned to him.[4][5] Doctors blamed overwork and his hectic lifestyle.[6]

He was later transferred to a private facility in Towson, Maryland, but escaped and fled to Washington, where he received congressional immunity.[7]


Zioncheck died after plummeting to the sidewalk from a window of his office on the fifth floor of the Arctic Building, at 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street in downtown Seattle, on August 7, 1936.[8] He struck the pavement directly in front of a car occupied by his wife. A note was found; it read, "My only hope in life was to improve the condition of an unfair economic system that held no promise to those that all the wealth of even a decent chance to survive let alone live."[9]

Zioncheck was mourned at his early death; both the University of Washington and Boeing closed down for half a day in his honor. He is buried in Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in Seattle.

Zioncheck for President[edit]

Zioncheck is the subject of an unpublished book-length poem by Grant Cogswell, entitled Ode to Congressman Marion Zioncheck. The story of Zioncheck, and Cogswell's obsession with him, is detailed in Phil Campbell's 2005 book Zioncheck for President: A True Story of Idealism and Madness in American Politics (Nation Books; ISBN 1-56025-750-4). The option to make Campbell's book into a feature film was purchased in 2007 by producer/director Stephen Gyllenhaal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Out of Picture". Middletown Times Herald. Middletown, New York. 3 Aug 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  2. ^ "Students Stone U.S. Congressman". The Ottawa Journal. 14 May 1936. p. 23. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  3. ^ "Rep. Zioncheck Is Arrested On Lunacy Charge". The Evening Times. Sayre, Pennsylvania. 1 Jun 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  4. ^ "Zioncheck Sick Man, Opines Psychiatrist". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 2, 1936. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via Google News Archive Search.
  5. ^ "Zioncheck's Last Stand?". The Fresno Bee The Republican. Fresno, California. 3 Jun 1936. p. 2. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  6. ^ ""Over-Work" Is Blamed by Doctors for Odd Conduct Of Rep. Marion Zioncheck". The Evening News. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 2 Jun 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  7. ^ "Zioncheck Again". The Daily Republican. Monongahela, Pennsylvania. 2 Jul 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via
  8. ^ Connelly, Joel (November 19, 1999). "Turbulent years churned out lasting leaders". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 10, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Rep. Zioncheck is Kiled in Dive From Five-Story Window: Jumped Quickly". Corsicana Daily Sun. Corsicana, Texas. 8 Aug 1936. pp. 1, 7. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ralph Horr
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1933-August 7, 1936
Succeeded by
Warren G. Magnuson