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Theodore Bikel's Death

Theodore Bikel

The life and death of Theodore Bikel:

Multi-talented and multi lingual, this native of Vienna, Austria enjoyed a long and varied career and life, as a noted actor, musician, composer and folk singer.

Theodore Meir Bikel was born into a family of Austrian Jews. His father Josef was an active Zionist and his mother was the former Miriam Reigler.

After Austria and Germany combined in 1938, his father moved the family to Palestine, with the help of British passports. Theodore was educated in Israel and his first major role was as Tevye the Milkman in a stage production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in Tel Aviv.

He made his US film debut in "The African Queen" in 1951 and Theodore moved to the United States in 1954 and became a citizen in 1961.

In between, he was nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar in 1958 for his role in "The Defiant Ones".

Theodore Bikel in The Defiant Ones

Bikel was also a guest star on several popular TV shows, including "The Twilight Zone"…

Theodore Bikel in The Twilight Zone

…"Hawaii Five O", "Wagon Train "and many more.

A folk singer and composer, he recorded more than 20 albums over his career.

In 1959, he founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and spotted the talents of Bob Dylan early.

Bikel was also noted as a long-time activist in the civil rights and human rights movements, fundraising and performing for causes he supported.

Married four times, he was survived by his last wife Aimee Ginsburg…

Theodore Bikel's wife

…when he died of natural causes at the age of 91 in Los Angeles. He was also survived by two sons and three grandchildren.