Sam Marx

Samuel Marx (born Simon Marx; October 23, 1859 – May 10, 1933) was the father of the American entertainment group (the) Marx Brothers, stars of vaudeville, Broadway and film and the husband of Minnie Marx, who served as the group's manager[1]

Sam Marx
Sam Marx in his later years
Simon Marx

(1859-10-23)October 23, 1859[1]
DiedMay 10, 1933(1933-05-10) (aged 73)
Other namesFrenchie
OccupationTailor, (made cameo appearance in sons’ film Monkey Business)
Spouse(s)Minnie Schönberg
ChildrenManfred Marx (1885–1886)[2]
Leonard "Chico" Marx
Adolph "Harpo" Marx
Julius "Groucho" Marx
Milton "Gummo" Marx
Herbert "Zeppo" Marx

Life and career

According to his birth certificate, Marx was born as Simon Marx in Alsace, then part of the Second French Empire.[1] 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.[3] The other children were Leonard (Chico), born in 1887, Adolph (Harpo) in 1888, Julius (Groucho) in 1890, Milton (Gummo) in 1892, and Herbert (Zeppo) in 1901. Marx was an excellent pinochle player, a game he taught to his two oldest sons.

Marx became a tailor, although apparently not a very good one. According to Groucho, he was a talented cook, often convincing the landlord to delay their rent pay time with a good meal.[4] In his show An Evening With Groucho, Groucho reminisced about his father, Sam:[5]

My father was a tailor, and a very bad one, and Chico was always short of money, and he used to hock 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 put the bad tailoring down to the fact that Frenchie never took the time to measure a client for a suit, preferring to guess their size. He would then take the suits that clients had rejected, travel to New Jersey, and sell them 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".[6]

Marx made a cameo appearance in his four sons' film Monkey Business (1931),[7] 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, this scene has been mistakenly attributed to A Night at the Opera.)

Sam Marx died in Hollywood, California on May 10, 1933, from complications due to kidney failure.[7] He was 73.


  1. La famille paternelle des Marx Brothers (in French)
  2. "Chronology". The Marx Brothers. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
  3. Timphus, Stefan. "The Marx Brothers – Family". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  4. Timphus, Stefan. "The Marx Brothers – Parents". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  5. "An Evening With Groucho Marx (transcript)". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  6. "The last interview with Zeppo Marx (August 1979)". Archived from the original on November 26, 2004. Retrieved 2004-11-26.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. "Samuel Marx, Father of Four Marx Brothers of Stage and Screen Fame". The New York Times. May 12, 1933. p. 17. Retrieved 2016-08-11.
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