Live Web cast January 28, 2000, 1 p.m. ET
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Marcel Marceau, one of world's most famous mimes, is now talking.
His alter-ego, "Bip", has been entertaining audiences around the world for more than five decades. Marceau is known for riding up and down elevators, taking strolls through the park, and getting into many misadventures.
Born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, his early life was as tragic as those of the characters he portrays on the stage. His family was forced to flee Strasbourg and the Nazis when he was 15. Marcel changed his last name to Marceau (after a Napoleanic general), and joined the French underground. Marceau's father was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, and died in the concentration camp.
After Paris was liberated and World War II ended, Marceau enrolled in the School of Dramatic Art in Paris in 1946 to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. It was there that he discovered mime, studying the art under Etienne Decroux. Under the mimist's tutelage, Marceau soon expanded the mime repertoire to include his own "mimodramas," full mime productions.
His rise to fame was fast, but it took him several years to travel to the United States. He toured the U.S. in 1955-56, after making his North American debut at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.
He has since gone on to perform on TV and in film, as well as on stage. He portrayed 17 different roles in First Class, and had the only speaking line ("non") in the Mel Brooks silent film, Silent Movie.
Related Web sites:
The Marcel Marceau Foundation
Information about pantomime