Sound of Music & Legendary Fiddler Star Theodore Bikel Dead at 91

first_imgOscar and two-time Tony nominee Theodore Bikel, who created the role of Captain Georg Von Trapp in the original production of The Sound of Music on Broadway and played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,000 times, died aged 91 on July 21. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bikel passed away of natural causes at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Miriam (née Riegler) and Josef Bikel, on May 2, 1924. After the Nazis took power in Austria in 1938, the family escaped to Mandatory Palestine. Bikel began acting as a teenager and in 1946 moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He later emigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1961.Bikel began his professional acting career in 1948 as understudy for the parts of both Stanley Kowalski and Mitch in the West End premiere of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. By 1955 he made his Broadway debut in Tonight in Samarkand and in 1958 he received his first Tony nod for his performance in The Rope Dancers. His second Tony nomination came for The Sound of Music for the original 1959 production. Bikel first played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in 1967, and subsequently appeared in the role more than any other actor, even stepping into the North American tour in 2010 at the age of 86. He additionally wrote and starred in Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, which had its world premiere in Washington in 2008.Oscar nominated for 1958’s The Defiant Ones, his numerous film credits included the Hungarian phonetics expert in My Fair Lady, The Little Kidnappers, The Enemy Below, The Pride and the Passion, The Russians Are Coming, The African Queen, I Want to Live!, See You in the Morning, Crisis in the Kremlin, Shadow Conspiracy, Dark Tower, Second Chances and Crime and Punishment. Notable television appearances included The Final Days, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Law & Order, JAG, Colombo, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dynasty and Falcon Crest.Author of Folksongs and Footnotes, his autobiography Theo was published in 1994. Bikel founded the Newport Folk Festival in 1961; as well as being a renowned folk singer, he also appeared in opera productions including La Gazza Ladra at the Philadelphia Opera Company in 1989 and Ariadne auf Naxos at the Los Angeles Opera Company in 1992.A civil rights activist and board member for Amnesty International, Bikel served as president of Actors Equity from 1973-82. In 1977 President Carter appointed him to serve a five-year term on the National Council for the Arts.Bikel married four times. First to Ofra Ichilov in 1942; they divorced in 1943. In 1967 he wed Rita Weinberg Call with whom he had two sons, Robert and Daniel. They divorced in 2008 and in 2009 he married conductor Tamara Brooks, who passed away in 2012. He wed Aimee Ginsburg on December 29, 2013, who survives him, along with his children. View Commentslast_img

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