French mime artist. He was a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur and received many other honours.
Born in Strasbourg, Marceau began his career as a member of Jean-Louis Barrault's company in 1945. In 1946, however, he began to devote himself entirely to mime, appearing for the first time as the white-faced Bip, a character he developed from the French nineteenth-century Pierrot, at the Théâtre de Poche, Paris. As Bip, the central character of many of his sketches, he gained universal recognition and acclaim. He directed his own company (1948–64) and toured the world on numerous occasions.
Marceau also created several mime-dramas, including Mort avant l'aube (1947) and Le Manteau (1951), based on Gogol, and several pantomimes. His Don Juan was produced at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris (1964) and the ballet Candide at the Hamburg Opera House (1971). Other notable performances included Jardin public (1949), in which he played ten characters. In 1978 he founded the École de Mimodrame de Paris at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin, but he remained mostfamous for his solo mimes, of which he sometimes gave three hundred performances a year. His publications include L'Histoire de Bip.