This week saw the 86th anniversary of the birth of Marcel Marceau. His real name was Mangel and he came from a Jewish family. He fell in love with Charlie Chaplin's work and would perform his versions of Chaplin's clowning acts for neighborhood children.
He took the name Marceau to hide his Jewish identity, something that would be necessary with the coming of World War II. He moved to Paris, which was safer and there he began studying mime with Etienne Decroux the father of modern mime.
When the war did come, the results were tragic, his father perished in Auschwitz. Marceau and his brother joined the French resistance and worked to help Jewish children avoid the concentration camps. After the war, he joined the French army.
He returned to his studies in 1946 and the following year introduced his famous character Bip which vaulted him to international stardom. Happy Birthday, Marcel Marceau.
Live, love, and laugh,
Saturday, March 28, 2009