- Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime
From his first big-screen encounter with Chaplin’s Little Tramp, young Marcel Mangel wanted to be a silent-movie actor. His timing couldn’t have been worse, since talkies were on their way in, shouldering aside their silent forebears. Hitler would also put a cramp in his plans, as the German invasion forced the Mangels from their home in Strasbourg to Limoges, where his father was deported to Aus-chwitz, and Marcel and brother Alain joined the French Resistance. It was while smuggling Jewish children over the border into Switzerland that Marcel began to hone his acting craft, keeping the children quiet and amused during their journey. With a new surname, Marceau, to help disguise his identity, Marcel made his way to Paris, where he would study drama, become a liaison to post-war Allied troops, and create his signature character, Bip, the white-faced, bucket-hatted Everyman who, on a bare stage with minimal props, lithely enacted ordinary life. Gauthier’s mixed-media pictures—robust cousins to G. Brian Karas’s typical cast—capture both the playfulness of Marceau’s art and the tense wartime setting in which he came of age. Children will find the final spread, comprising four photographs of Bip in action, a welcome bonus. No notes are included, but adults can easily guide kids to Bip clips on YouTube to view the real deal.