Charges that French playwright Felicine Marceau, whose new play, “The Good Soup” opened last night in Washington, had been a Nazi collaborator, were denied today by the play’s American producer and adapter.
Producer David Merrick and adapter Garson Kanin declared in a joint statement that they were satisfied with a Marceau’s explanation of his wartime activities in Belgium and with his statement that he had never been a Nazi. Joseph Schlissel, general manager for the producer, said that the charges were unsubstantiated and that the play would open on schedule at the Plymouth Theater in New York on March 2. The charge was made earlier in the week by columnist Walter Winchell.
The New York Times reported today that Marceau, originally a Belgian national with the name of Lodewijk Albert Leonia Servaas Carette, was condemned in absentia by a Council of War in Brussels on January 5, 1946 on a variety of charges and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and a line of $10,000. Later, he was ordered deprived of his Belgian nationality.
One of Marceau’s plays, “The Egg,” has been performed in Israel by the Habimah Theater. When similar charges were raised there, it was reported here, the Israel Government made inquiries and was informed that the judgment was never carried out.
Told of the revival of the charges, Marceau said in Paris that he was “stupified” by the news and added that he was tried in absentia “on a political charge” which “had no effect outside of Belgium.” He asserted that he has “never been a Nazi writer” and that it was up to his accusers to bring proof in this matter.
“I challenge anyone to prove that I was ever a member of the Nazi party or of any other party or movement,” he said. “I also challenge anyone to find in my writings or my words any attack against the democracies of the United States. I challenge anyone to find in my acts, writings or words any trace of anti-Semitism–this accusation being especially insupportable in view of my numerous and very dear Jewish friends.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.