Entertainer. A mime artist, he became one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, being acclaimed as the epitome of the mime's art. Marceau was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, into a Jewish family. As a child he was fond of the movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, which inspired him to become a performer. During the Second World War his father was murdered at Auschwitz and he joined the Free French Forces, forging documents to protect Jewish children. Afterwards he studied in Charles Dullin's School of Dramatic Art in the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris. In 1947 he created his renowned character "Bip", a clown with a white face, battered silk hat and a striped pullover, whom he said symbolized the fragility of life. A hugely successful tour of the United States in 1955 and 1956 brought him international fame. His performances, known as "mimodramas", included "Pierrot de Montmartre", "The 3 Wigs", "Paris Cries—Paris Laughs", and "Don Juan". He was an influence on countless young performers, among them Michael Jackson, who based his famous "Moonwalk" dance on Marceau's sketch "Walking Against the Wind". He also appeared in motion pictures, such as "First Class", "Shanks", "Barbarella", and "Silent Movie". Marceau was the founder of an international school for pantomime, the L'Ecole International de Mimodrame in Paris. He was named an Officier de la Legion d'honneur by the French government in 1999. He remained lithe and active until his death.
Bio by: José L Bernabé Tronchoni