(originally posted March 22, 2020)
I did a blog on Marcel Marceau about two years ago. Today, he would have been 100 years old. Therefore, I thought it appropriate to do another tribute to this Silent Hero.
He survived the Nazi occupation and saved many children during World War II. He was regarded for his peerless style of pantomime, moving audiences without uttering a single word, and was known to the world as the “Master of Silence.”
Marcel Marceau was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, to a Jewish family. His father, Charles Mangel, was a kosher butcher originally from Będzin, Poland. His mother, Anne Werzberg, came from Yabluniv, present-day Ukraine.
At the beginning of the second world war, he had to hide his Jewish origin. He changed his name to Marceau when his Jewish family were forced to flee their home. His father was deported and murdered at Auschwitz in 1944. Marceau and his brother, Alain, were part of the French resistance, helping children escape to safety in neutral Switzerland. Marceau also served as an interpreter for the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle, acting as liaison officer with the allied armies.
He gave his first major performance to 3,000 troops after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
In 1947, Marceau created the character Bip the Clown, whom he first played at the Théâtre de Poche (Pocket Theatre) in Paris. In his appearance, he wore a striped pullover and a battered, be-flowered silk opera hat. The outfit signified life’s fragility and Bip became his alter ego.
He died on 22, September 2007. The Silent Hero who should never be forgotten.
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