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Mime Artist Marcel Marceau Dies at 84


Legendary French mime artist Marcel Marceau has died at the age of 84. Known throughout the world for his humor and pathos as the stage character Bip, Marceau was a tireless performer who inspired many other artists. From Paris, Lisa Bryant has more on his remarkable career.

With his white face and top hat, Marceau brought audiences to tears - and to laughter - without ever saying a word. As his stage character Bip, he ran a wartime matrimonial service, chased butterflies, and flirted at parties. He was a tireless performer, who continued performing well into old age.

Marceau talked about his art and about Bip, during an earlier interview with France Inter radio.

Once he painted on his white face, Marceau said, he stopped being Marcel Marceau, and became the symbol of all men. He said, "I do not hide behind Bip. There is Marcel Marceau and there is Bip". He said it was good fortune to translate dreams and aspirations through gestures and be able to identify with the audience.

Marceau was born in the eastern French town of Strasbourg, in 1923. He was a Jew who survived Nazi-occupied France - although his father was killed by German troops. Marcel joined the French resistance, altering the identity cards of Jewish children to trick the German military into thinking they were too young to be deported to concentration camps.

After World War II, he began studying acting. In 1948, he formed his own mime company. In the 1950s, Marceau finally hit international stardom after a successful tour in the United States. His inspiration was film comedian Charlie Chaplin - and the French mime, in turn, influenced many other artists, including American pop star Michael Jackson.

Tributes to Marceau poured in Sunday. French Prime Minister Francois Fillion said the mime would be missed by his pupils - and by the entire performance world.

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