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Marcel Marceau (born Marcel Mangel)

Marcel Marceau was an internationally acclaimed French actor and mime most famous for his stage persona as "Bip the Clown." He referred to mime as the "art of silence," and he performed professionally worldwide for over 60 years

Career

  • Marceau joined Jean-Louis Barrault's company and was soon cast in the role of Arlequin in the pantomime, Baptiste (which Barrault had interpreted in the film Les Enfants du Paradis). Marceau's performance won him such acclaim that he was encouraged to present his first "mimodrama", 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.

    In 1947 Marceau created Bip the Clown and was first played at the Théâtre de Poche (Pocket Theatre) in Paris. In his appearance he wore a striped pullover and a battered, beflowered silk opera hat. The outfit signified life's fragility and Bip became his alter ego, just as the "Little Tramp" becameCharlie Chaplin's. Bip's misadventures with everything from butterflies to lions, from ships and trains, to dance-halls or restaurants, were limitless. As a style of Pantomime, Marceau was acknowledged without peer. His silent mimed exercises, which included The Cage, Walking Against the Wind, The Mask Maker, and In The Park, all became classic displays. 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 Deburau Prize (established as a memorial to the 19th century mime master Jean-Gaspard Deburau) for his second mimodrama, Death before Dawn, Marceau founded Compagnie de Mime Marcel Marceau, the only company of pantomime in the world at the time. The ensemble played the leading Paris theaters, such as Le Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Le Théâtre de la Renaissance, and the Bernhardt Theatre, as well as other playhouses throughout the world.

    From 1959 to 1960, a retrospective of his mimodramas, including The Overcoat by Gogol, ran for a full year at the Amibigu Theatre in Paris. He produced 15 other mimodramas, including Pierrot de Montmartre, The Three Wigs, The Pawn Shop, 14 July, The Wolf of Tsu Ku Mi, Paris Cries—Paris Laughs and Don Juan (adapted from the Spanish writer Tirso de Molina).

    Marceau performed all over the world in order to spread the "art of silence" (L'art du silence). It was the intellectual minority who knew of him until 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. He was one of the world's most renowned mimes. Marceau's art became familiar to millions through his many television appearances. His first television performance as a star performer on the Max Liebman, 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.

    Marceau also showed his versatility in motion pictures such as First Class, in which he played 17 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, his character has the only audible speaking part, uttering the single word "No!" when Brooks asks him (via intertitle) if he would participate in the film. He also had a role in a low-budget film roughly based on his life story calledPaint It White. The film was never completed because another actor in the movie, a lifelong friend[who?] with whom he had attended school, died halfway through filming.

    As an author, Marceau published two books for children, the Marcel Marceau Alphabet Book and the Marcel Marceau Counting Book, and poetry and illustrations, including La ballade de Paris et du Monde (The Ballad of Paris and of the World), an art book which he wrote in 1966, and The Story of Bip, written and illustrated by Marceau and published by Harper and Row. In 1982, Le Troisième Œil, (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 1969, Marcel Marceau opened his first school, Ecole Internationale de Mime, in the Théàtre de la Musique in Paris. The school was open for two years with fencing, acrobatics, ballet and five teachers of Mime.

    In 1978, Marceau established his own school, École 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, pop megastar Michael Jackson, who had been friends with Marceau for nearly 20 years, planned a concert together with him for HBO, but the concert was cancelled after Jackson was hospitalised for exhaustion during rehearsals.

    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 Theater 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 Théâtre Antoine in Paris.

Religion

Denomination: Jewish

Membership

  • Academy Fine Arts Berlin

  • Academy Fine Arts Munich

  • Academie Des Beaux Arts France.

Connections

  • father: Charles Mangel - kosher butcher
  • mother: Ann Werzberg
  • brother: Alain
  • 1-st wife: Huguette Mallet
  • Son: Michel
  • Son: Baptiste
  • 2-nd wife: Ella Jaroszewicz
  • 3-rd wife: Anne Sicco
  • Daughter: Camille
  • Daughter: Aurélia
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Born March 22, 1923
Died September 22, 2007
(aged 84)
Nationality
  • 1946
    School Dramatic Art

Award

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Inna Golinya last changed 24/05/2012 view changes
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