Silent shade

Why Marcel Marceau is the only mime you've heard of (if not from)

Published September 29, 2022

Famous mime Marcel Marceau, on his knees, lays his head to one side while holding both arms vertical in front of him. Like mimes do.

"So anyway, this is how you make the double slash at the beginning of a web address."

Marcel Marceau, the now-departed super-mime, hated crappy mimes as much as the rest of us. “People think, ‘Oh my God, not again!’ when they see them,” Marceau told the Los Angeles Times in 1989, “and miss the fact that mime, done well, is like nothing else.

When Marceau died in 2007, the 84-year-old may have taken the mastery of the craft with him. At his funeral, “silence” was meant to be the very on-brand theme but there were some actual sounds and – before you ask – no, nobody wordlessly pretended to be trapped in a very small box. (Have some class, the man was a legend.) 

Instead, Marceau’s signature top hat and red flower were placed beside his coffin, which had been carefully covered with the French flag. His Legion of Honor and National Order of Merit medals were also on display. (Again, the man was a legend.) 

According to the Associated Press, Rabbi Rene-Samuel Sirat read three Psalms in both Hebrew and French, and talked about Marceau’s incredible life and career. A cellist also played a section from Bach’s “Suite No. 5.” 

So the next time you’re at a kid’s birthday party or in Times Square and see a sub-par mime struggling to walk against an imaginary wind gust, take a minute to think about Marcel Marceau. He would’ve been just as miserable as you are. 

A version of this story appeared on the news page of Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Marcel would have kept quiet about it.

Featured image: Erling Mandelmann, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0