Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What Would Marcel Say?

On Sept. 22,the world famous mime, Marcel Marceau, died of a heart attack in his Cahors, France home. He was 84.

Marceau, born 3/22/1923, in Strasbourg, France, performed for 50 years and plied his trade in more than 15,000 performances around the globe.

(Pictured) The quintessential Marceau pose - white face with black-accented eyes, blank-and-white striped pullover shirt, white pants and a silk top hat - was a Chaplin-esque character called "Bip." He created the character Bip the Clown in 1947 and brought his act to the United States in 1950.

Some may remember him playing the part of a mad scientist, Professor Ping in the film Barbarella. While he did appear in films with speaking parts, he spoke professionally as himself in only one role. Playing himself, he uttered "Non!" in the 1976 Mel Brooks comedy Silent Movie. Ironically, it was the sole spoken dialog in the entire movie.

As a satirical tribute to the man, I started wondering What Would Marcel Say in certain situations.

He died quietly. I wonder, what were his last words? Marcel: "___________________." (I thought so.)

Does anyone recall the outcome of the Great Debate between Marceau and Harpo Marx? (Me either.)

Growing up it is said that he never talked back to his parents.

He was never sent to the principal's office for talking in class.

The message on his telephone answering machine could have been better.

If he'd had a career as a hit man would he have used a silencer?

What did he teach his pet parrot to say?

If he had ever been arrested, would the police have bothered to tell him he had the right to remain silent?

At Christmas time, did he sing along with the carol Silent Night?

I suspect there are some who would feel that the above jokes are disrespectful, but they are not intended as as such. In an interview once he stated that he didn't mind the mime jokes. He felt that the jokes helped make people aware of the talent and skills required to be a mime.

I for one find mimes entertaining, especially the very talented ones. They are much more than the street mimes who perform for change in the many downtown areas across the country. Over the years I saw Marcel Marceau on television many times. I remember seeing him several times on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

I was in awe of his "man in a box" routine. No doubt Michael Jackson "stole" his moonwalk from Marceau. There is a rather short list of famous mimes that I can personally name, Marceau heading it. In fact, I can only think of one other mime act off the top of my head, and that would be the husband and wife team of Shields and Yarnell, who had a short-lived variety show on TV.

Rest in peace, MARCEL MARCEAU. You will be missed.



LZ Blogger said...

Hale ~ FUNNY Marcel Marceau post! (Especially) the last quote of his! ~ jb///

Jack K. said...

Hale, thanks for the memories.

Marceau did us all a favor with is unique wit.

He will be sorely missed.