Marcel Marceau: 100 years since the birth of renowned mime artist
Google Doodle’s latest offering pays homage to legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau – the man best known as a master of silence who delighted audiences around the world.
Born in Strasbourg, France, on 22 March, 1923, today would have marked his 100th birthday, hence the search engine’s tribute to him via its interactive artwork.
For anyone who’s not familiar with the Doodle feature, it’s a temporary change made to the Google logo on its homepage to commemorate a holiday, some other noteworthy event or person, or just to share a fun fact about the world.
Marceau became an international icon thanks to his tragicomic character Bip the Clown, who sported a striped top, white face paint and a battered hat adorned with a single flower.
His dream of becoming a silent actor began as a child, when he would entertain his friends with impersonations of famous movie stars and mimes.
He would later use his silent acting skills during the Second World War to help smuggle Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied France, as Google notes in its blurb to the Doodle.
The Doodle shows Marceau in his famous get-upGoogle
His real name was, in fact, Marcel Mangel, but during the German occupation, he changed his surname to Marceau to avoid being identified as Jewish.
“His pantomimes were used to keep children quiet during dangerous moments on the journey to the Switzerland border,” Google states. “Marceau made three of these trips and liberated at least 70 children during World War II.”
After the war, Marceau studied dramatic acting and mime at the School of Dramatic Art of the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris and, not long after, founded the Compagnie de Mime Marcel Marceau – the only pantomime company in the world at the time to develop the art of silence.
He and his troop then toured the globe, introducing international audiences to the art of miming.
Marcel Marceau performing in his one-man show in around 1970Getty Images
As Google notes: “Millions more would become familiar with Marceau through his television and movie appearances. He played the role of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in 1973 and earned an Emmy for Best Specialty Act for his 1956 appearance on the Max Liebman Show of Shows.”
In addition to acting, Marceau also directed a mime drama and published two children's books.
He died in a retirement home in the French town of Cahors at the age of 84 but, as today’s Doodle proves, his legend lives on.
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