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Jean-Gaspard Deburau
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    (July 31, 1796-June 17, 1846)
    Born in Kolin, Bohemia, Czech Republic
    Birth name was Jan Kaspar Dvorak
    Clown and mime
    Performed at the Theatre des Funambules in Paris
    Transformed the white-face Pierrot character from the simpleton of commedia dell’arte to a more poignant figure (somewhat like Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp)
    He was hissed offstage when he took his pantomime act to the upscale Palais Royal (1832).
    He abused laudanum (opium dissolved in alcohol).
    He fatally struck a boy over the head with his cane after the boy taunted him (1836).
    His trial (at which he was acquitted of murder) was well-attended by curiosity seekers wanting to hear his voice.
    His biographer described him as ‘bitter, vindictive and unhappy.’
    As a child, he was forced into the family acrobat act by his father.
    Novelist and critic Theophile Gautier called him ‘the most perfect actor who ever lived.’
    He was an inspiration for Marcel Marceau.
    He was a central character in Marcel Carné’s classic film ‘Children of Paradise.’ (1945)

Credit: C. Fishel

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