Deburau, Jean-Baptiste Gaspard

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Deburau, Jean-Baptiste Gaspard


Born July 31, 1796, in Kolin, Austro-Hungary (now Czechoslovakia); died June 17, 1846, in Paris. French actor and mime. Born into a family of wandering actors and acrobats.

Deburau began performing on the stage as a child. In 1816. he joined the troupe at the Funambules Theater (tightrope artists). In 1819 he played Pierrot in the pantomime Harlequin the Doctor, creating a character that gained wide popularity and became a national comic hero. Drawing on the farce and buffoonery traditions of the “plebeian” theater, Deburau transformed pantomime, brought it closer to contemporaneity, and enriched its subject matter. Deburau altered the external aspect of the hero as well, introducing the costume (long white pants, loose calico blouse, and a smooth black fillet) that eventually achieved worldwide renown. M. Marceau is developing Deburau’s artistic traditions in the modern theater.


Janin, J. Debiuro: Istoriia dvadtsatikopeechnogo teatra, parts 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1835. (Translated from French.)
Rémy, T.Jean-Gaspard Deburau. Paris, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.