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Marcel Marceau: The Silent Hero of the French Resistance

An image of Marcel Marceau
Marcel Marceau was not only a master of mime, but also a hero of the Resistance. Discover his remarkable story, his cause of death, his wives, his movie roles, and his legacy/PHOTO COURTESY: Facebook

Marcel Marceau was a legendary mime artist who captivated audiences around the world with his expressive gestures and silent comedy.

But behind his famous white face and striped shirt, there was a courageous man who risked his life to save hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis during World War II.

In this article, I will explore the remarkable story of Marcel Marceau, his cause of death, his wives, movie roles, and legacy.

Marcel Marceau Cause of Death

Marcel Marceau died on September 22, 2007, at the age of 84, in a retirement home in Cahors, France.

His former assistant, Alexander Neander, announced his death to the media, but did not reveal the cause.

According to some unconfirmed reports, Marceau died of a heart attack following a long illness.

He had retired from performing in 2005, after six decades of entertaining millions of people with his art of silence.

An image of Marcel Marceau
Marcel Marceau/PHOTO COURTESY: Facebook

Marcel Marceau Wife

Marceau was married three times in his life.

His first wife was Huguette Mallette, a Canadian dancer whom he met in 1949.

They had two sons, Michel and Baptiste, and divorced in 1958.

His second wife was Ella Jaroszewicz, a French-Polish choreographer who collaborated with him on many of his shows.

They married in 1966, but separated before 1975.

His third and last wife was Anne Sicco, a journalist and author who wrote a biography of Marceau.

They married in 1975 and had two daughters, Camille and Aurélia.

Marcel Marceau and Emma

One of the most popular movies about Marcel Marceau is Resistance, a 2020 biographical drama directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz.

The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Marceau, and Clémence Poésy as Emma, a local girl from Strasbourg who falls in love with him.

Emma and her sister Mila are part of a group of Jewish activists who rescue orphans from the Nazis and smuggle them to Switzerland.

Marceau joins them and uses his mime skills to keep the children quiet and entertained during their dangerous journey.

However, the film is not entirely based on true events.

Emma and Mila are fictional characters, created for the purpose of the story.

Marceau’s family publicly disavowed the film, stating that they had no involvement with its production and that it was misleading to present it as a true story.

Marcel Marceau Age

Marcel Marceau was born on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, France, to a Jewish family.

His original name was Marcel Mangel, and his father was a kosher butcher from Poland.

His mother was from Ukraine, and through her family, he was a cousin of Israeli singer Yardena Arazi.

When he was four years old, his family moved to Lille, but later returned to Strasbourg.

He was fascinated by mime and comedy since he was a child, and was inspired by Charlie Chaplin and Jean-Gaspard Deburau.

He changed his surname to Marceau during the German occupation of France, as a reference to a French revolutionary general.

Marcel Marceau Movie

Besides Resistance, Marcel Marceau appeared in several other movies, both as an actor and as a mime.

Some of his notable roles include:

  • Barbarella (1968), a sci-fi adventure film starring Jane Fonda, in which he played Professor Ping, a scientist who helps Barbarella escape from a tyrant.
  • Silent Movie (1976), a comedy film directed by Mel Brooks, in which he played himself, and ironically, had the only spoken line in the film: “Non!”
  • First Class (1979), a French comedy film directed by Claude Zidi, in which he played a passenger on a chaotic flight.
  • Shanks (1974), a horror film directed by William Castle, in which he played Malcolm Shanks, a deaf-mute puppeteer who can animate corpses with electrodes.

Marcel Marceau Resistance

Marcel Marceau was not only a mime, but also a hero.

During World War II, he joined the French Resistance and helped save hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis.

Marcel used his mime skills to disguise himself as a Boy Scout leader, and to calm and entertain the children while they were escaping.

He also worked as a liaison officer with General George Patton’s Third Army, and once captured 30 German soldiers by pretending to be a French officer.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Order of Merit, and the Legion of Honor for his bravery and service.

An image of Marcel Marceau
Marcel in Resistance/PHOTO COURTESY: Facebook

Marcel Marceau YouTube

If you want to see Marcel Marceau in action, you can watch some of his amazing performances on YouTube.

Here are some of the videos you can find:

  • The Mask Maker (1959), one of his classic routines, in which he portrays a man who tries on different masks and becomes possessed by their personalities.
  • Bip the Clown, his most famous character, who wears a striped shirt, a red flower, and a battered hat, and encounters various situations and emotions.
  • Pantomime: The Language of the Heart, a documentary film in which he discusses the art of mime and his character Bip.
    The Art of Silence, a 12-part series of instructional films in which he teaches the basics of mime, such as movement, expression, and illusion.


Marcel Marceau was a master of mime, a legend of comedy, and a hero of the Resistance.

He brought poetry to silence, and joy to millions of people.

He died in 2007, but his legacy lives on in his films, his school, and his students.

Marcel once said: “Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop.”

But perhaps we should listen to what he had to say, without words, through his art.








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