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Theodore Bikel

Theodore Bikel

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Also Known As: Theodore Meir Bikel Died:
Born: May 2, 1924 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Austria Profession: actor, singer, guitarist, writer, photographer, editor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Internationally renowned actor and folksinger Theodore Bikel made his first stage appearance as the Village Clerk in a Tel Aviv production of "Tevye, the Milkman" and would in fact play the life-loving Tevye so many times in productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" that it became his signature role (although he claimed to have liked "Zorba!" better). After graduating from London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he won acclaim for his work in West End productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1949, directed by Laurence Olivier) and "The Love of Four Colonels" (1951, directed by Peter Ustinov) before making his Broadway debut in "Tonight in Samarkand" (1955). Though he also played Robert de Baudricourt in "The Lark" that year on Broadway, a part he would reprise for the 1967 NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "St. Joan" his best-known theatrical credit (aside from Tevye) is probably his creation of Captain Georg von Trapp for the Broadway production of "The Sound of Music" (1959), starring Mary Martin. Bikel's feature debut came as the First officer of the Luisa in the John Huston classic "The African Queen" (1951). He would find himself on (or under) the water again as second-in-command of the...

Internationally renowned actor and folksinger Theodore Bikel made his first stage appearance as the Village Clerk in a Tel Aviv production of "Tevye, the Milkman" and would in fact play the life-loving Tevye so many times in productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" that it became his signature role (although he claimed to have liked "Zorba!" better). After graduating from London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he won acclaim for his work in West End productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1949, directed by Laurence Olivier) and "The Love of Four Colonels" (1951, directed by Peter Ustinov) before making his Broadway debut in "Tonight in Samarkand" (1955). Though he also played Robert de Baudricourt in "The Lark" that year on Broadway, a part he would reprise for the 1967 NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "St. Joan" his best-known theatrical credit (aside from Tevye) is probably his creation of Captain Georg von Trapp for the Broadway production of "The Sound of Music" (1959), starring Mary Martin. Bikel's feature debut came as the First officer of the Luisa in the John Huston classic "The African Queen" (1951). He would find himself on (or under) the water again as second-in-command of the German U-boat in "The Enemy Below" (1957) and the (Soviet) Captain in Cold War farce "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" (1966). In fact, his facility for languages (fluent in Yiddish, Hebrew, French, German and English) helped land a plethora of international roles throughout his career. Bikel earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the moderate sheriff in "The Defiant Ones" (1958), and he played Russian linguist Zoltan Karpathy in the Academy Award-winning "My Fair Lady" (1964). A guest star on countless TV series, he appeared on four episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS 1984-1996) in the '80s and '90s, not to mention having recurring roles on "Dynasty" (ABC 1981-89) and "Falcon Crest" (CBS 1981-1990). He also portrayed Henry Kissinger in the ABC movie "The Final Days" (1989), based on the book by Bob Woodward. As Bikel entered his mid-'70s, his acting career slowed down to occasional small roles in films ranging from the thrillers "Shattered" (1991) and "Benefit of the Doubt" (1993) to the post-Soviet comedy "My Family Treasure" (1993) and the inspirational drama "Second Chances" (1998). He appeared as a rabbi in the science fiction hit "Babylon 5" (syndicated 1994-98) and as a farmer in the procedural drama "JAG" (CBS 1995-2005). His final screen roles came in Menahem Golan's modern-day adaptation of "Crime and Punishment" (2002) and in the Israeli drama "The Little Traitor" (2007), starring Alfred Molina. Theodore Bikel died of undisclosed natural causes on July 21, 2015 in Los Angeles. He was 91 years old.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Babylon 5: In the Beginning (1998) Lennon
4.
 Boing (1998)
5.
 Trickle (1998)
6.
 Shadow Conspiracy (1997) Professor Pochenko
7.
 My Family Treasure (1993) Grandpa Danieloff
8.
 Benefit of the Doubt (1993) Attorney Gideon Lee
9.
 Crime and Punishment (1993) Captain Koch
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1943:
Theatrical debut as the Village Clerk of "Tevye the Milkman" in Tel Aviv
1944:
Co-founded Israel Chamber Theatre (date approximate)
1948:
London stage debut in "You Can't Take It with You"
1949:
Appeared in West End production of "A Streetcar Named Desire", directed by Laurence Olivier; eventually assumed role of Harold 'Mitch' Mitchell
1951:
Directed by Peter Ustinov in West End production of "The Love of Four Colonels"
1955:
Broadway debut as Inspector Massoubre in "Tonight in Samarkand"; later that year portrayed Robert de Baudricourt in Broadway production of "The Lark", starring Julie Harris
1955:
Made TV debut on ABC's dramatic anthonlogy series, "Star Tonight"
1957:
Played the second-in-command on the German U-boat in "The Enemy Below", directed by Dick Powell
1959:
Created the role of Captain Georg von Trapp in Broadway production of "The Sound of Music" opposite Mary Martin; received Tony nomination
1967:
Reprised role of de Baudricourt for NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of "St. Joan"; also played Mr Van Daan in ABC's version of "The Diary of Anne Frank"
:
Toured U.S. cities as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" in the late 1960s and 1970s
1972:
Headlined the national tour of the stage musical "The Rothschilds"
1976:
Acted in ABC movie "Victory at Entebbe"
1976:
Played what is reportedly his favorite role in "Zorba!" on tour of US cities
1985:
Had recurring role as Warnick on ABC's "Dynasty"
1987:
Appeared as recurring character Martin Dimitrov on CBS' "Falcon Crest"
:
Was frequent guest star on CBS' "Murder, She Wrote": played Crenshaw in a 1987 episode; world famous opera singer Bertolucci in 1989's "When the Fat Lady Sings"; Uri Lermentov in "The List of Uri Lermentov" (1991); and Inspector Van Horn in a 1994 episode
1989:
Portrayed Henry Kissinger in the ABC movie "The Final Days", based on the book by Bob Woodward
1997:
Acted the part of Profesor Pochenko in "The Shadow Conspiracy"
1998:
Appeared in the shorts "Trickle" and "Boing"
1999:
Returned to the NYC stage in "The Gathering"
2000:
Toured as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof"
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Education

University of London: -
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England -

Notes

Among his many honors, Bikel was named Man of the Year (1967) by B'nai Brith

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ofra Ichilov. Divorced.
wife:
Rita Weinberg. Married in 1967.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Josef Bikel.
mother:
Miriam Bikel.
son:
Robert Simon Bikel.
son:
Daniel Martin Bikel.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Folksongs and Footnotes" Meridian Books

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