Over the years, I feel like I've seen Marcel Marceau around a lot. On PBS, in movies (he had the only speaking role in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, and also starred in Barbarella), and generally whenever the word mime is accompanied with a photo. Yet, it was only in reading about the 84 year old entertainer's death last night that I realized what a strange and wonderful life he led. Here are a few snippets pulled from other stories, on things I didn't know about Marcel Marceau:
1. He cracked weird jokes about magicians. (from salon.com)
"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards," Marceau once said, "for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."
2. He had some pretty big fans. (from salon.com)
"To ensure his legacy, Marceau, after gentle prodding from colleagues, agreed to form the Marcel Marceau Foundation for the Advancement of Mime in New York. Foundation board members are an eclectic mix of stars that include Michael Jackson, Placido Domingo, Barbara Hendricks and Dustin Hoffman -- all devoted fans."
3. He's responsible for the greatest dance move of all-time. (from cnn.com)
"Michael Jackson borrowed his famous "moonwalk" from a Marceau sketch, "Walking Against the Wind."" According to Wikipedia (which seems to support the cnn quote here), in 1995, the pair were working on a concert for HBO together, but the project fell through.
4. He survived the Holocaust, was active in the French Resistance, saved Jewish children's lives, and worked with Patton's army. (cnn)
"With his brother Alain, Marceau became active in the French Resistance. Marceau altered children's identity cards, changing their birth dates to trick the Germans into thinking they were too young to be deported. Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton's army."
5. He was famously chatty. (cnn)
"Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said."
6. He was incredibly eloquent. (cnn)
"In 1944, Marceau's father was sent to Auschwitz, where he died. Later, he reflected on his father's death: "Yes, I cried for him." But he also thought of all the others killed: "Among those kids was maybe an Einstein, a Mozart, somebody who (would have) found a cancer drug," he told reporters in 2000. "That is why we have a great responsibility. Let us love one another.""
7. He's won a lot of things. (bbc and wikipedia)
He's been declared a National Treasure by Japan, received honorary doctorates from Princeton, University of Michigan and Ohio State, won countless grants and awards from the French government, and was chosen as a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations (for their Assembly on Aging).
8. And while there's plenty of reference to his vinyl "Marcel Marceau: Greatest Hits" on the internet"¦
Kara and I couldn't find any real evidence of it. Supposedly, it's 20 minutes of silence on either side followed by clapping. Anyone have a copy of it?
Rest in peace, Marcel.