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Famed Mime Marcel Marceau Dies in France

September 24, 2007 at 6:50 PM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

JEFFREY BROWN: Marcel Marceau told stories without words, reviving the ancient art of pantomime while performing around the world for six decades.

He was born to a Jewish family in Strasbourg, France, in 1923. During World War II, his father died in Auschwitz, and Marcel worked in the resistance. Early on, Marceau created his most famous character, Bip, in his white face, top hat, and red rose.

Always silent on stage, offstage Marceau often talked about his art, including to Elizabeth Farnsworth on the NewsHour in 1999.

MARCEL MARCEAU, Performer: I like to reveal to the essence of the weight of our soul, the inside of ourselves. And this is why I think that I like to show the depth of our feelings. In that sense, even simple people understand it. It has to be very clear.

I tried to bring complete silence in the theater, because I think it would show that revealing with the body, the essence of life, like walking in the wind in the beginning, like struggling with push and be pushed, like the struggle between life and death, would show the best in silence, the depths of ourselves, because we all are silent in certain moments: writers before writing, singers before singing, athletes before sports. Concentration is the most important medium.

JEFFREY BROWN: Only once in his performing career did Marceau speak, in Mel Brooks’ 1976 film “Silent Movie.”

MARCEL MARCEAU: No!

JEFFREY BROWN: Marcel Marceau died this weekend at his home in France. He was 84.