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Monday, September 24, 2007

Famous Mime Marcel Marceau dies. Nobody heard his cry for help.


Monday September 24, 2007
From The Associated Press

Famed French Mime Marcel Marceau Dies

PARIS -- Marcel Marceau, whose lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions revived the art of mime and brought poetry to silence, died Saturday. He was 84.

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.

A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation during World War II — unlike his father, who died as Auschwitz — and worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children.

His biggest inspiration was Charlie Chaplin. Marceau, in turn, inspired countless young performers — Michael Jackson borrowed his famous "moonwalk" from a Marceau sketch, "Walking Against the Wind."

Marceau performed tirelessly around the world until late in life, never losing his agility, never going out of style. In one of his most poignant and philosophical acts, "Youth, Maturity, Old Age, Death," he wordlessly showed the passing of an entire life in just minutes.

"Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?" he once said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon praised Marceau as "the master," saying he had the rare gift of "being able to communicate with each and everyone beyond the barriers of language."

In recent decades, Marceau took Bip from Mexico to China to Australia. He's also made film appearances. The most famous was Mel Brooks' "Silent Movie": He had the only speaking line, "Non!"

"France loses one of its most eminent ambassadors," President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.

Marceau's former assistant, Emmanuel Vacca, announced the death on France-Info radio, but gave no details.

Marceau was born Marcel Mangel on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, France.

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