This year we celebrate legendary actor and mime Marcel Marceau’s 100th birthday, and at the forefront of this celebration, we have Kathryn Leigh Scott of the hugely popular daytime soap Dark Shadows fame, Kathryn’s late husband and Time/Life photojournalist Ben Martin and Marcel’s widow, Anne Sicco. All three come together to honor the life and times of the renowned and heroic performer at the National Arts Club exhibition in Gramercy Park, New York, featuring Ben’s photography of Marcel, Kathryn’s re-release of the 1970s book “Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime” featuring more than 250 photos of Marcel with Anne Sicco, Marcel’s widow, having beautifully penned a personal tribute in the Foreward.
Alongside Kathryn’s acting career as Maggie Evans on Dark Shadows, Scott has appeared sporadically throughout the years in various television shows such as The Goldbergs and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as authoring multiple works of nonfiction. In this interview, we get some insight into the above and even more, so when you’re done here, check out the book “Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime” and learn about this one man’s legacy he left behind.
Kathryn, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me today. Looks like you’ve been busy with your release of Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime, which has quite a few legendary connections, including Marcel himself, Ben Martin, yourself, and others. How has the reception of the book been since its recent re-release?
I’m pleased! Five-star ratings and some lovely reviews on Amazon. Word-of-mouth is always the best way to boost readership, so I’m definitely spreading the word!
How is the National Arts Club exhibition going as it continues for the next couple of weeks? Is the exhibition strictly for Ben’s work of Marceau, or does it include any of his work with Time/Life?
The National Arts Club exhibit is entirely devoted to Ben’s photographs of Marcel Marceau to celebrate the 100th birthday of the celebrated mime. I’m hoping the NAC will feature more of Ben’s photography . . . it’s a great gallery! I’m also thrilled that Ben’s photographs of “NY Artists In Their Studios-circa 1960” are featured in the Los Angeles Artplex exhibit, “Photosynthetic,” from May 13 – June 9, 2023.
How does it feel to be honoring your late husband’s work and life alongside Marcel’s in this exhibition?
I’m thrilled to be honoring the artistic legacies of both Ben Martin and Marcel Marceau with this exhibition, an intimate behind-the-scenes photographic portrait of the mime both on and off stage.
What would you say new readers can expect to see when they pick up this book and open it for the first time?
Young readers who may never have seen Marcel Marceau perform will find more than 250 color and black & white photographs of the mime rehearsing, behind the scene putting on his famous “Bip” makeup, onstage in performance, and offstage at his chateau outside Paris.
And oppositely to the previous question, what can you expect to be different or the same from previous publications of the book?
For this new edition of “Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime,” his widow, Anne Sicco, has written a beautifully personal tribute to the artist in her Foreword, and we’ve included many additional color and black & white photographs.
As mentioned above, there are many great names involved in this book. With your late husband having been friends with Marceau, were you also ever around him? Do you have any memorable moments if so?
I first met Marcel in 1973 through a mutual friend after a performance at Sadler’s Wells in London. Afterward, we had a late supper at our home, and Marceau did an impromptu mime for us in our living room. During the time Ben and Marceau were working together, we had lunches and dinners together at this chateau outside Paris. He was an artist, too, and it was wonderful to see his sketches and paintings. I remember him as a man of great warmth and humility who could be playful and very charming.
I wanted to touch on some of your careers as well here; Dark Shadows no doubt was a massive success in its day and has two attempted revivals; what would you say you owe the success of the original series to?
Dan Curtis was so innovative in introducing a soap opera about a vampire with elements of horror, fantasy, and the supernatural to a daytime audience. I attribute the success to adapting stories from great literature for our plotlines and Dan’s insistence that the audience wouldn’t be confused if the same actors took on roles in different time periods. Our audience of 20 million embraced it!
Tying into the question above, the original Star Trek TV series aired in the same year. Did you ever feel like there was competition with them, or because of the different genres, there is no worry about that?
Star Trek was primetime, and Dark Shadows was daytime, so there was no competition in terms of ratings. If anything, the two shows highlighted the genius talents behind them: Gene Roddenberry and Dan Curtis. Star Trek took us to the future Dark Shadows of the past to tell stories that are, in fact, morality tales.
What was it like on the set for Dark Shadows? It seems like everyone got along very well and had good chemistry. Is it safe to say that? Was the show your first experience in acting?
We were (and are!) a family. We had our own little studio in an area of New York called Hell’s Kitchen, so isolated from the “soaps” that we never thought of ourselves as doing a “soap.” We made a point of saying “daytime drama” . . . and because we functioned like a repertory company of actors, there was no grief when we were “killed off” . . . we just went on to play a new role.
What’s your process for studying a role and getting into the headspace to perform said role, whether it’s voice acting or live acting? Is it much different than when writing your own works of fiction?
Honestly, my work method always involves a good deal of daydreaming, imagining “what if,” and trusting my instincts. Much of how I work as a writer is the same as how I function as an actor: research and asking myself a multitude of questions.
Would you say September Girl has a lot of parallels with your personal life? Having read a short synopsis of the novel, it seems as if there very well could be. Can you take us through the process of writing that novel?
Again, my work often begins with imagining “what if?” With September Girl, I drew on two periods of my life to tell the story, but it was actually someone else’s life story I drew on. I know the worlds I wrote about and know that readers who know me would think the story was autobiographical. It’s not; not a single thing that happens in the story happened to me but could have.
Kathryn, thank you so much again for your time; if there’s anything else you wanted to say to your fans, Ben’s, Marcel’s. or Anne’s fans?
Writers want to be read, actors live to perform, and I am so fortunate to have an audience for both of my twin pursuits. I don’t have hobbies; there’s no need when the work I do for a living is so satisfying.
– Anthony Montalbano is a contributor for www.vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at email@example.com