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Marcel Marceau named Goodwill Ambassador for UN world assembly on ageing

Marcel Marceau named Goodwill Ambassador for UN world assembly on ageing

Marcel Marceau -- the internationally-renowned French artist often referred to as the world's greatest mime -- was today named as the first Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing, to be held next year in Madrid.

Accepting the designation at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Marceau said he was honoured to help promote global efforts to deal with the issue of ageing. Underscoring the valuable contribution made by older persons worldwide, he noted that "at our age, we can help young people to understand the past, the present and the future, and give them hope to bring love and enlightenment to all people."

At the same time, the famed mime rejected the limitations often associated with ageing, pointing out that "there are people who are young and have not so much energy, and there are people who are old who, when they have energy, are young."

Born in Strasbourg, France, Mr. Marceau formed his Compagnie de mime Marcel Marceau in 1948; at the time, it was the only company of pantomime in the world. The ensemble played the leading theatres in Paris, as well as other playhouses internationally. Mr. Marceau has toured the world extensively over the past five decades and is currently performing in the United States.

In addition to his live performances, Mr. Marceau has demonstrated his versatility in motion pictures, such as Mel Brook's "Silent Movie," in which he said the only spoken word: "No." Numerous honours have been bestowed upon Mr. Marceau, including the highest honours conferred by the French Government: Officier de la Légion d'Honneur, Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, and Grand Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite.

Mr. Marceau's mission will be to promote awareness of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, to be convened from 8 to 12 April 2002. That event aims to address the needs of older persons worldwide, as well as the dramatic impact of population ageing on societies, particularly in the developing world.