A snapshot biography of Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau

His birth name was Marcel Mangel. The world would know him as Marcel Marceau.

Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1923, Marcel found a calling in art at a young age. A trip with his mother to see a Charlie Chaplin film would begin a lifelong passion and career performing as a mime.  

But while still a youth in his teens, France was invaded by the Nazis. Marcel’s family fled, in danger for being Jewish. Marcel eventually took shelter in Paris, where he taught drawing and acting to children and joined the resistance, helping smuggle children to Switzerland. 

Marcel, his brother, and his mother survived the war. His father, captured by the Gestapo in 1944, was killed in Auschwitz. 

“If I cry for my father, I have to cry for the millions of people who died. I have to bring hope to people,” Marcel would say. 

Continuing with art, after the war, Marcel studied theatre and then began performing. He performed on television, toured worldwide, acted in films, and published multiple books. He received a number of honorary degrees and many awards.

Sources: William Fifield. “The Mime Speaks: Marcel Marceau.” The Kenyon Review, vol. 30, no. 2, 1968, pp. 155–165. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4334799. Accessed 22 Mar. 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Marceau / https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/marcel-marceau / Studio Harcourt, Wikimedia Commons