MARCEL MARCEAU    22 maart 1923 -  22 september 2007





Marcel Marceau

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Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau, as Bip the clown, June 16, 1977
Birth name Marcel Mangel
Born March 22, 1923
Strasbourg, France
Died 22 September 2007 (aged 84)
Cahors, France

Marcel Mangel (March 22, 1923September 22, 2007[1]), better known by his stage name Marcel Marceau or Mime Marceau, was a well-known mime artist, among the most popular representatives of this art form world-wide.



[edit] Early life and training

Marcel Mangel was born in Strasbourg, France. At the age of 16, his Jewish family was forced to flee their home when France entered the Second World War. He later joined Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces and, due to his excellent English, worked as a liaison officer with General Patton's army. His father, a kosher butcher, was arrested by the Gestapo and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He was married three times and had four children.

After having seen Charlie Chaplin, he became interested in acting. After the war, he enrolled in 1946 as a student in Charles Dullin's School of Dramatic Art in the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris, where he studied with teachers like Charles Dullin and the great master, Etienne Decroux, who had also taught Jean-Louis Barrault. The latter, noticing Mangel's (who had changed his surname to Marceau) exceptional talent[citation needed], made him a member of his company, and cast him in the role of Arlequin in the pantomime, Baptiste - which Barrault himself had interpreted in the world famous film Les Enfants du Paradis. Marceau's performance won him such acclaim that he was encouraged to present his first "mimodrama", called Praxitele and the Golden Fish, at the Bernhardt Theatre that same year. The acclaim was unanimous and Marceau's career as a mime was firmly established.

[edit] Career and signature characters

In 1947, Marceau created "Bip", the clown, who in his striped pullover and battered, beflowered silk opera hat � signifying the fragility of life � has become his alter-ego, even as Chaplin's "Little Tramp" became that star's major personality. Bip's misadventures with everything from butterflies to lions, on ships and trains, in dance-halls or restaurants, were limitless. As a style pantomime, Marceau was acknowledged without peer. His silent exercises, which include such classic works as The Cage, Walking Against the Wind, The Mask Maker and In The Park, as well as satires on everything from sculptors to matadors, were described as works of genius. Of his summation of the ages of man in the famous Youth, Maturity, Old Age and Death, one critic said, "He accomplishes in less than two minutes what most novelists cannot do in volumes."

In 1949, following his receipt of the renowned Deburau Prize (established as a memorial to the 19th century mime master Jean-Gaspard Deburau) for his second mimodrama, "Death before Dawn", Marceau formed his Compagnie de Mime Marcel Marceau - the only company of pantomime in the world at the time. The ensemble played the leading Paris theaters - Le Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Le Theatre de la Renaissance, and the Sarah Bernhardt, as well as other playhouses throughout the world. During the 1959-60, a retrospective of his mimodramas, including the famous The Overcoat by Gogol, ran for a full year at the Amibigu Theatre in Paris. He has produced 15 other mimodramas, including Pierrot de Montmartre, The 3 Wigs, The Pawn Shop, 14th July, The Wolf of Tsu Ku Mi, Paris Cries�Paris Laughs, and Don Juan - adapted from the Spanish writer Tirso de Molina.

[edit] World recognition

With US president Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, and Amy Carter, June 16, 1977
With US president Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, and Amy Carter, June 16, 1977

He performed all over the world in order to spread the "art of silence" (L'art du silence). He first toured the United States in 1955 and 1956, close on the heels of his North American debut at the Stratford Festival of Canada. After his opening engagement at the Phoenix Theater in New York, which received rave reviews, he moved to the larger Barrymore Theater to accommodate the public demand. This first US tour ended with a record breaking return to standing room only crowds in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other major cities. His extensive transcontinental tours included South America, Africa, Australia, China, Japan, South East Asia, Russia and Europe. His last world tour covered the United States in 2004, and returned to Europe in 2005 and Australia in 2006.

Marceau's art became familiar to millions through his many television appearances. His first television performance as a star performer on the Max Liebman Show of Shows won him the television industry's coveted Emmy Award. He appeared on the BBC as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in 1973. He was a favorite guest of Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore, and he also had his own one-man show entitled "Meet Marcel Marceau". He teamed with Red Skelton in three concerts of pantomimes.

He also showed his versatility in motion pictures such as First Class, in which he played 17 different roles, Shanks, where he combined his silent art, playing a deaf and mute puppeteer, and his speaking talent, as a mad scientist; as Professor Ping in Barbarella, and a cameo as himself in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, in which, with purposeful irony, he is the only actor with a speaking part that picks up on the soundtrack, uttering the single word "Non!" when Brooks asks him (subtitled) if he would participate in the film. He also had a role in a low-budget film roughly based on his life story called Paint It White. The film was never completed because another actor in the movie, a life-long friend with whom he had attended school, died halfway through shooting.

As an author, Marceau released both Marcel Marceau Alphabet Book and Marcel Marceau Counting Book. Other publications of Marceau's poetry and illustrations include his La ballade de Paris et du Monde, which he wrote in 1966, and The Story of Bip, written and illustrated by Marceau and published by Harper and Row. In 1982, Le Troisi�me Oeil, (The Third Eye), his collection of ten original lithographs, was published in Paris with an accompanying text by Marceau. Belfond of Paris published Pimporello in 1987. In 2001, a new photo book for children titled Bip in a Book, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, appeared in the bookstores in the US, France and Australia.

In 1978, he established his own school in Paris: �cole Internationale de Mimodrame de Paris, Marcel Marceau (International School of Mimodrame of Paris, Marcel Marceau). In 1996, he established the Marceau Foundation to promote mime in the United States.

In 1995, vocalist, dancer, choreographer and mime Michael Jackson and Marceau conceived a concert for HBO, but the project was never completed. In 2000, Marceau brought his full mime company to New York City for presentation of his new mimodrama, The Bowler Hat, previously seen in Paris, London, Tokyo, Taipei, Caracas, Santo Domingo, Valencia (Venezuela) and Munich. From 1999, when Marceau returned with his classic solo show to New York and San Francisco after 15-year absences for critically-acclaimed sold out runs, his career in America enjoyed a remarkable renaissance with strong appeal to a third generation. He latterly appeared to overwhelming acclaim for extended engagements at such legendary American theaters as The Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, demonstrating the timeless appeal of the work and the mastery of this unique artist.

Marceau's new full company production Les Contes Fantastiques (Fantasy Tales) opened to great acclaim at the Theatre Antoine in Paris.

[edit] Acclaim and honors

The French Government conferred upon Marceau its highest honor, making him an "Officier de la L�gion d'honneur", and in 1978 he received the Medaille Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. In November of 1998, President Chirac named Marceau a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit; and he was an elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, the Acad�mie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France. The City of Paris awarded him a grant, which enabled him to reopen his International School, which offered a three-year curriculum.

Marceau held honorary doctorates from Ohio State University, Linfield College, Princeton University and the University of Michigan. He was declared a "national treasure" by Japan[citation needed]. In 1999 New York City declared March 18 to be Marcel Marceau Day.

Marceau accepted the honor and responsibilities of serving as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Second World Assembly on Aging, which took place in Madrid, Spain, in April 2002.

[edit] Films

Marcel Marceau at the Internet Movie Database

[edit] Writings

[edit] Influence

[edit] References

  1. ^ "French mime artist Marceau dies", BBC News, 2007-09-23. Retrieved on 2007-09-23. 
  2. ^ Associated Press. "Grand master of mime, Marcel Marceau, dies", 23 September 2007. Retrieved on 2007-09-23. 

[edit] External links

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