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Theodore Meir Bikel (bih-KEL; May 2, 1924 – July 21, 2015) was an Austrian-American Jewish actor, folk singer, musician, composer, unionist and political activist. He appeared in films including The African Queen (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), The Enemy Below (1957), I Want to Live! (1958), My Fair Lady (1964) and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). For his portrayal of Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones (1958), he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
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Actor, Folk Singer, Musician, And Composer
Full Name at Birth
Theodor Meir Bikel
Profile Bio Text
Theodore Meir Bikel (born 2 May 1924) is an Austrian-American actor, folk singer, musician, and composer. He made his film debut in The African Queen (1951) and was nominated for an Academy award for his supporting role as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones (1958).
Bikel is President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and was president of Actors' Equity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Partners for Progressive Israel, where he also lectures. His autobiography, Theo, was published in 1995.
Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Miriam (née Riegler) and Josef Bikel from Bukovina. Being active in Zionism, his father named him after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. Following the German union with Austria in 1938, Bikel's family fled to Palestine, where his father's contacts helped the family obtain British passports.
Bikel started acting while in his teens. He co-founded the Cameri Theatre there—which has gone on to become one of Israel's biggest theaters—before he moved to London to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1945. In 1948, Michael Redgrave recommended Bikel to his friend Laurence Olivier as understudy for the parts of both Stanley Kowalski and Mitch in the West End premiere of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. Bikel graduated from understudy to star opposite the director's wife, Vivien Leigh, who would go on to recreate her role as Blanche DuBois in the film version opposite Marlon Brando.Theodore Bikel Went On To Originate The Role Of Captain Von Trapp In The 1959 Original Production Of THE SOUND OF MUSIC Co-Starring Mary Martin With Music and Lyrics By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Claim to Fame
Captain Von Trapp In The 1959 Broadway Musical THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Place of Death
Westwood, California, United States
Broadway Actor and Folk Singer.
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