24 September 2007

RIP: Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau
22 Mar 1923 - 22 Sep 2007

ZUI this article from the International Herald-Tribune:
Marcel Marceau died this past weekend in Paris. He was 84 and had been anticipating his death at least since July 1997, when he spent an evening on the terrace of a palace near Salzburg talking about his concern that when he passed the art of mime might die with him. He had a right to be concerned.

His name became synonymous with his art. In the 1950s and 1960s, Marceau elevated this finely nuanced silent form of art, L'art du silence, as he called it, to a form of mass entertainment. He won an Emmy for his performance on the Max Lieberman Show, and appeared with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas. In 1976, he made a cameo appearance in Mel Brooks's "Silent Movie." When Brooks asks him, in subtitle, if he is willing to appear in the film, Marceau provides the only soundtrack line in the movie, a tart, distinctly French flavored, "Non!"

ZUI also this article from The Times:
Marcel Marceau single-handedly resurrected the art of mime, reinterpreting it for jaded postwar audiences and elevating it to a universal language. One critic said of “l’art du silence” which he created: “He accomplishes in less than two minutes what most novelists cannot do in volumes.”

Marceau will be best remembered as the creator of Bip, the mime clown with a white face, tattered shoes and a top hat with a flower in it. “Bip was born in the imagination of my early years,” Marceau wrote, “and always surrounded by characters who are neither better nor worse than himself. He is a romantic and burlesque hero of our time, and he is also my alter ego, struggling like Don Quixote against the windmills in the battlefields of life.”

And from CNN, this:
Marceau died Saturday in Paris, French media reported. Former assistant Emmanuel Vacca announced the death on France-Info radio, but gave no details about the cause.

Wearing white face paint, soft shoes and a battered hat topped with a red flower, Marceau, notably through his famed personnage Bip, played the entire range of human emotions onstage for more than 50 years, never uttering a word. Offstage, however, he was famously chatty. "Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said.


As he aged, Marceau kept on performing at the same level, never losing the agility that made him famous. On top of his Legion of Honor and his countless honorary degrees, he was invited to be a United Nations goodwill ambassador for a 2002 conference on aging.

"If you stop at all when you are 70 or 80, you cannot go on," he told The AP in an interview in 2003. "You have to keep working."

Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

When I was a kid I loved watching Red Skelton - another talented mime - on telly. Marcel Marceau was a guest on his show several times, and he was truly wonderful.

No comments: