A funeral service for the beloved Swiss clown, Dimitri has taken place in southern Switzerland. The comedy performer and mime artist died on Tuesday at the age of 80.
Family, friends, work colleagues and local people gathered in Locarno on Saturday to say goodbye to the national treasure, born in 1935 as Dimitri Jakob Müller, in a packed service held at the Church of St. Anthony.
“Now he will make the angels laugh,” said Bishop Pier Giacomo Grampa during the service.
A song was performed by one of Dimitri’s five children, and others gave speeches, in which they expressed their gratitude for being able to work with their father right up until the end of his life. Students from the theatre school he founded, the Scuola Teatro Dimitri, also performed.
Dimitri was born in Ascona in the Italian-speaking part of the country. He leaves behind a wife, five children and numerous grandchildren.
Dimitri was Switzerland’s best known clown. After deciding at a young age to become a comedy performer he trained in Paris with Etienne Decroux, later performing with the Marcel Marceau troupe. He received accolades for his solo mime act during the 1962 International Mime Festival in Berlin, and in 1973, he performed in New York’s Big Apple Circus.
After learning of Dimitri’s death, the Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset paid tribute on Wednesday to him, saying the clown had marked the cultural life of Switzerland for more than 50 years.
“He was an inspiring and warmhearted person and one of the most important stage artists in the country.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies