CHICO (LEONARD) MARX - EPHEMERA UNSIGNED - HFSID 6100309
The comedian struck a deal with corrupt Clark County Sheriff Glen Jones for weekly repayment through his talent agency. The payments soon stop, Sheriff Jones gets impatient, and the William Morris Agency is caught in the middle. Extremely rare!
Sale Price $552.50
CHICO MARX COLLECTION The comedian struck a deal with corrupt Clark County Sheriff Glen Jones for weekly repayment through his talent agency. The payments soon stop, Sheriff Jones gets impatient, and the William Morris Agency is caught in the middle. Extremely rare! Ephemera Unsigned: Collection includes: 1) A Collection Receipt issued by the Bank of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1943 December 20, reporting that an $11,000 check drawn by Chico Marx on the Bank of America, payable to the Hotel El Rancho, Las Vegas, has not been honored. 2) Arrest Warrant issued by the Justice's Court, Las Vegas Nevada, April 29, 1944, signed by "Paul C. O'Malley", Justice of the Peace, and delivered to Sheriff Glen Jones on the same date. The arrest of Chico Marx is ordered for "drawing and passing check without deposit or credit to make payment of the same on presentation." 3) A telegram dated 1944 May 5, from Porter Morgan, Manager of the El Rancho Las Vegas, stating: "Regards to Chico. Do not want another engagement for Marx. All other arrangements must be taken up with Sheriff Glen Jones. This deal out of our hands now." 4) an unsigned copy of a typed documentary letter (1944 May 5) from Chico Marx to the William Morris Agency, New York, N.Y., acknowledging an agreement he has reached with Sheriff Glen Jones to pay $2,000 on his debt immediately, with the rest withheld from his future earnings and sent by the William Morris Agency to Sheriff Jones in weekly installments of $200. 5) A series of telegrams exchanged (May 9-August 17, 1944) between Nat Lefkowitz, an attorney representing the William Morris Agency, and Sheriff Glenn Jones, concerning the monthly payments on Marx's debt, beginning with this missive from Jones to Lefkowitz dated 1944 May 9: "As per telephone conversation with Chico Marx May 8 will accept his offer $2,000 immediately and $200 per month [note = This is in error. Actual payments were to be $200 per week.] until $8,750 paid, to be held out by William Morris Co. & forwarded to me each week. Have agreement drawn between Marx & Morris Co & send copy to me. Will hold up warrant if agreement consummated." [As noted by #4 above, Marx had already executed this agreement with the Morris Agency, even before his phone conversation with Sheriff Jones.] The telegrams from Jones become increasingly impatient, with a Jones telegram to Lefkowitz (1944 August 17 stating: "Have not received payment in Chico Marx Account in some time. Please forward substantial payment." 6) Copies of letters and telegrams related to an initial misunderstanding in which the William Morris Agency mailed checks to the Rancho Las Vegas instead of to Sheriff Jones. 7) Four undated payment vouchers from the William Morris Agency on the Chico Marx account in amounts of $200, $200, $400 and $600. 8) an unsigned pencil record of payments made, beginning with $2,000 paid on May 20, five timely payments of $200 weekly amounts (May 20-June 17), and then only one more payment of $200 made on September 30, for a total of only $3,200 of this debt retired. 9) A typed letter to Sheriff Jones signed by "I. C. Harris" of the William Morris Agency: "In answer to your telegram regarding payments on the account of Chico Marx, we wish to inform you that Mr. Marx has not played any engagements since the last check that we sent you on his account." Leonard "Chico" Marx (1887-1961) was the oldest of the five Marx Brothers and one of the main three performers (including Groucho and Harpo). These three brothers appeared in 17 films together, 1 unreleased and probably lost (Humor Risk, 1921). In most of the films, Chico and Harpo play a troublemaking, crime-committing duo, with Harpo in the silent dunce role and Chico playing the crafty but dim-witted leader. After the brothers' mother and business manager passed away in 1929, Chico took over as business manager for the comedy group. He is credited with the first deal for performers that involved the receiving of a set percentage of a production's gross receipts. During the war years, Chico headed his own orchestra and created a solo comedy act that he continued into the late 1940s. Chico was a skillful imitator of Italian dialect, and he played the piano well enough to entertain an audience. Chico's financial difficulties were a major factor in the group's decision to remain active into the late 1940s and 1950s. They released A Night in Casablanca (1946) to help their brother pay off his gambling debts. After Las Vegas mobster Bugsy Siegel was murdered in 1947, police found a check from Chico Marx in his wallet. Groucho Marx said, "Chico was lucky that Bugsy was shot. If Bugsy had tried to cash that check, it would have bounced. Then Bugsy would have shot Chico." Chico had obviously pulled the same stunt at the El Rancho, resulting in the arrest warrant. There seems to be no final account of how this debt was settled. Glen C. Jones (1910-1983) is himself a colorful character, elected to the first of three 4-year terms as Las Vegas Sheriff in 1942. Jones was notoriously corrupt. Before Nevada created its Gaming Commission in the early 1950s, gambling and liquor licenses for Las Vegas were issued by the Clark County Liquor and Gaming Board, which Sheriff Jones headed. Cash payoffs to Jones could buy "instant" gaming and liquor licenses, filled out by him on the spot. When the FBI raided the famed Roxie's brothel, it found a list of secret payoffs made to Jones. He was compelled to resign as Sheriff after the Las Vegas Sun videotaped him negotiating a bribe for the opening of a new casino. The El Rancho Las Vegas also figures prominently in the history of the city. The first casino opened on what was to become the Las Vegas strip (1941, five years before Siegel's Flamingo), and the first to operate as a full-function resort hotel, the El Rancho, with its neon windmill on the roof and big name entertainers, was an urban landmark until it burned to the ground in 1960. (Mob-related arson was rumored, but the fire department deemed the fire accidental). What a fine collection for a fan of the Marx Brothers, or of classic Las Vegas history!These documents show the normal wear one would expect after 65 years, but are in overall fine condition.
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