Bernard Bragg, a trailblazer for deaf performers, died at 90 on Oct. 29 in Los Angeles, The New York Times reports.
His longtime friend Marlee Matlin confirmed his death.
He graduated in 1947 from the New York School for the Deaf, and continued his education at what was then Gallaudet College, where he studied theater and acted in school plays.
He enjoyed performing, but as a deaf person he had no obvious career path . He began teaching at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley. Then, in 1956, he made a life-changing trip to see the mime Marcel Marceau perform in San Francisco.
After that he began appearing at clubs in the San Francisco area like the hungry i, working in his own invented style, which he called sign mime, combining elements of American Sign Language with the tools of mime.
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