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Final curtain Famous Swiss clown Dimitri dies at 80

Dimitri, Switzerland’s best known clown, has died at the age of 80. He spent six decades entertaining audiences with his mime performances and continued to pace the stage into his 80th year. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

It's 41 years since Dimitri’s school for physical theatre was founded in Verscio, a village at the entrance of the Centovalli valley in southern Switzerland, where he also lived. The academy is now part of the Swiss school system. 

“Without laughter you can survive, but not live,” Dimitri once said, adding: “The Swiss are more humorous and original than they’re often given credit for, since they embody a mix of the urbanite and peasant, and if you look at the original meaning of the word ‘clown’ in English it means a simpleton, a peasant”.

His performing style included his trademark face and the use of musical instruments and only a few props. He remained in good physical shape for many years due to three hours of daily rehearsals. 

Dimitri was born Dimitri Jakob Müller in 1935 in Ascona, a lakeside resort in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.