Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Theodore Bikel, 1924-2015

The death has been announced of actor/singer Theodore Bikel, who passed away today at the age of 91.

Bikel was born in Vienna, but as a member of a Jewish family, his father knew that he had to get them out of the country once the Nazis took over in 1938. The Bikels actually wound up in Palestine, since Israel wouldn't be a country for several more years, and Bikel eventually made his way to London after World War II. Stage acting followed, and eventually in 1951 Bikel got his first role in a major film as the first officer of the German ship in The African Queen.

Bikel's stage career was, I think, always bigger than his movie career, having played Captain Von Trapp in the original Broadway version of The Sound of Music, as well as playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more times than you can shake a stick at. As for his films, he was second-billed in I Bury the Living, and played the sheriff going after Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones.

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