Marcel Marceau's talent for pantomime entertained audiences around the world for over 60 years. It also saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust. Born to a Jewish family in Strasbourg, France, in 1923, he was a fan of Charlie Chaplin and dreamed of performing in silent movies. When he was 16, the Nazi's invaded France and the Jews of Strasbourg fled for their lives. Marcel changed his last name to Marceau to avoid being identified as Jewish, and he joined the French resistence.
Masquerading as a boy scout, Marcel evacuated a Jewish orphanage in eastern France. He told the children he was taking them on a vacation in the Alps, and led them to safety in Switzerland. He made this perilous journey three times, saving hundreds of Jewish orphans. He was able to keep the children quiet by entertaining them with silent pantomime. According to a friend, "Marceau started miming to keep children quiet as they were escaping. It had nothing to do with show business. He was miming for his life."