Marcel Marceau, the Very Quiet Introvert


You would think having a job that requires being silent would be the perfect occupation for an introvert. Marcel Marceau (1923-2000), universally considered the world’s greatest mime, thought otherwise.

He was a classic introvert. At parties he hated small mime. It was practically impossible for him to gesture, “How are you?” “Nice weather we’ve been having.” “You must give me the recipe for these invisible cheese puffs!”

Marceau told his imaginary biographer, “I can put myself in invisible rooms but I can’t keep invisible people out. I try to ignore them. They always want to say. ‘hello,’ ask how I’m doing, and sell me life insurance.”

He spent his life trying to avoid make-believe people. “On an intellectual level I know they don’t exist, but I can’t avoid them,” Marceau told a reporter from Popular Mime magazine in 1977. He revealed in the same interview he’d been seeing an invisible therapist for the past 25 years. “Sure, I could make more progress with an actual therapist but my guy charges so little and he really gets me.”

Marcel Marceau was married three times, once to a woman who actually existed. “It was always the same problem: ‘Marcel, why are you so quiet?’ ‘Marcel, stop smelling that invisible flower and come to bed.’ I’ve always preferred one-on-none relationships. But every time I create an invisible wall to keep the world out, I allow another beautiful invisible creature back in my heart. I’m the classic introvert. I can’t live with imaginary people. I can’t live without them.”

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