Marcel Marceau, who escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp and went on to become a mime legend, has died.
His former assistant, Emmanuel Vacca, announced Marceau’s death on French radio Sunday but did not provide details. Marceau had died the day before in Paris at the age of 84.
Marceau was born Marcel Mangel to Jewish parents in Strasbourg, France. He changed his name to Marceau to hide his Jewish origins when the Nazis marched into eastern France and he fled with family members. His father was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 and did not survive.
Marceau and his brother Alain worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children.
As a mime, Marceau was best known for his onstage persona Bip, a sad and chalk-faced clown who wore a stovepipe hat adorned with a red flower. Among his many other characters were a peevish waiter, a lion tamer and an old woman knitting.
His inspiration was Charlie Chaplin, and Marceau would inspire countless performers, notably Michael Jackson, who borrowed the “moonwalk” from the mime’s “Walking Against the Wind” sketch.