Rolfe, Bari 1916-2002

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ROLFE, Bari 1916-2002

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 20, 1916, in Chicago, IL; died of kidney complications October 19, 2002, in Oakland, CA. Dancer, mime, educator, and author. Rolfe, who was close friends with Marcel Marceau, has often been called the "grandmother of American mime." After high school she began a career in dance that was temporarily curtailed when she injured her back during a fall. In the 1930s, after recovering from her injury, she joined the Pan-American Dance Group and the Latin American Youth Project in California. After World War II she moved to San Francisco, where she joined the Actor's Workshop. It was in San Francisco that she first saw the famous mime Marceau perform, and she later met him in person in Brussels. Rolfe and Marceau became lovers, and she decided to study in Paris at the Etienne Decroux School of Mime and the Jacque Lecoq School of Mime, Movement and Theater for three years. She thought that mime would help her be a better dancer, but her experiences inspired her to leave performing behind and become a teacher instead. Returning home in the 1960s, she taught mime at the University of California at Los Angeles, California State University at Northridge, and the University of Washington in Seattle. She was also the author of several books, including Behind the Mask (1977), Movement for Period Plays (1985), History and Mystery of Mime (1990), and Actions Speak Louder (1992), as well as editing Mimes on Miming: An Anthology of Writings on the Art of Mime (1980).



Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2002, p. B18.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 29, 2002, p. A24.