The University Record, April 23, 2001

Marcel Marceau to deliver Wallenberg Lecture April 30

By Nancy L. Kuharevicz

World-renowned mime Marcel Marceau will deliver the 11th University Wallenberg lecture and receive the Wallenberg Medal in ceremonies beginning at 7:30 p.m. April 30 in Rackham Auditorium.

The lecture series honors a distinguished human rights advocate. Marceau, the son of a kosher butcher who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp, joined the Resistance and helped smuggle Jewish children from France into Switzerland at the beginning of World War II. In 1944, he joined the French army, fighting alongside U.S. troops.

Born in 1923 in Strasbourg, France, Marceau will reflect on the dark days of World War II and how his experiences at that time influenced the later creation of his most poignant mime works.

In 1947, Marceau created the mime persona “Bip,” based on the Pip character in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Bip is Marceau’s alter ego, akin to Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp,” and his adventures have been likened to those of Don Quixote. Among Marceau’s masterpieces are “The Cage,” “The Mask Maker,” “The Public Garden” and his signature work, “Youth, Maturity, Old Age and Death.”

The University Wallenberg Lecture and Medal are supported by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the University Wallenberg Endowment, which was established in 1985 to commemorate alumnus Raoul Wallenberg and “to recognize those whose own courageous actions and/or writings call to mind his extraordinary accomplishments and human values.” Income from the endowment also provides support each year for one or two graduate students whose scholarly work is related to the goals and values of the lectureship.

Wallenberg was born in 1912 in Sweden. In 1935, after graduating from the then-College of Architecture, he worked as a representative for a central European trading company. Through his work, he came in contact with many Jewish refugees, and in 1944, the Swedish Foreign Ministry sent him on a rescue mission to Budapest. He confronted German and Hungarian guards, and in a three-month period, he secured the release of about 15,000 Jews whom he claimed were under Swedish protection.

Wallenberg was last seen Jan. 17, 1945, on his way to report to Soviet Army occupation headquarters. Soviet officials claim he died in 1947, but investigations into his whereabouts have remained inconclusive.

While in Ann Arbor, Marceau will receive the University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award during the Ford Honors Program at 6 p.m. May 12 in Hill Auditorium. The Honors Program, made possible by the Ford Motor Co. Fund, will feature a performance by Marceau and a tribute to his legacy.

Marceau also will conduct two weeklong workshops, one for professional mimes and another for dancers.