Sam Marx in his late years
October 23, 1859
Mertzwiller, Alsace, France
|Died||May 10, 1933
Los Angeles, California
|Children||Manfred Marx (1885-1886)
Leonard "Chico" Marx
Adolph "Harpo" Marx
Julius "Groucho" Marx
Milton "Gummo" Marx
Herbert "Zeppo" Marx
|Relatives||Al Shean (brother-in-law)|
Life and career
Marx was born in 1859 as Simon Marx according to his birth certificate in Alsace, France. Due to his place of birth he was known as "Frenchie". He met Minnie in New York where he was working as a dance teacher. They married in 1884 and had six sons. Their first son, Manfred, born 1885, died in infancy. The other children were born in 1887, Leonard (Chico); 1888, Adolph (Harpo); 1890, Julius (Groucho); 1892, Milton (Gummo) and 1901, Herbert (Zeppo). Marx was an excellent pinochle player, a game he taught to his two oldest sons.
Marx became a tailor, although not a very good one. He was a talented cook, often convincing the landlord to delay their rent paytime with a good meal. In his show An Evening With Groucho, Groucho reminisces about Sam Marx:
My father was a tailor, and a very bad one, and Chico was always short of money, and he used to hawk my father's shears, so whenever my father made a suit, of course it didn't fit, and the shears would be hanging up in the pawnshop on Ninety-first Street
Harpo puts the bad tailoring down to the fact that Frenchie never actually took the time to measure a client for a suit, preferring to guess their size. He would then take suits that clients had rejected and travel to New Jersey and sell these door-to-door.
In his last interview, Zeppo joked that his father "was a very bad tailor but he found some people who were so stupid that they would buy his clothes, and so he'd make a few dollars that way for food".
Marx made a cameo appearance in his four sons' film Monkey Business (1931), sitting on top of luggage behind the brothers on the pier as they wave to the First Officer, having slipped off the ship without being arrested as stowaways. (In some interviews the brothers have mistakenly attributed this scene to A Night at the Opera.)
Sam Marx died on May 10, 1933, from complications due to renal failure. He was 73.
- La famille paternelle des Marx Brothers (French)
- "Chronology". The Marx Brothers. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
- "Samuel Marx, Father of Four Marx Brothers of Stage and Screen Fame". The New York Times. 1933-05-12. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- Timphus, Stefan. "The Marx Brothers – Family". www.marx-brothers.org. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- Timphus, Stefan. "The Marx Brothers – Parents". www.marx-brothers.org. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- "An Evening With Groucho Marx (transcript)". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- The last interview with Zeppo Marx (August 1979) at the Wayback Machine (archived November 26, 2004)