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Theodore Bikel
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    (May 2, 1924-July 21, 2015)
    Born in Vienna, Austria
    Actor and folksinger
    Appeared in 'The African Queen' (1951), 'Moulin Rouge' (1952), 'The Pride and the Passion' (1957), 'The Defiant Ones' (1958), 'I Want To Live!' (1958), 'My Fair Lady' (1964), 'The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!' (1966), '200 Motels' (1971), 'Victory at Entebbe' (1976), 'The Final Days' (1989), 'Shadow Conspiracy' (1996) and 'Crime and Punishment' (2002)
    Appeared on Broadway in 'The Rope Dancers' (1957) and 'The Sound of Music' (1959)
    Potrayed Tevye over 2,000 times in touring productions of 'Fiddler on the Roof'
    Recorded the albums 'Songs of a Russian Gypsy' (1958), 'Bravo Bikel' (1959), 'Sings Songs of Israel' (1960), 'Songs of Russia Old & New' (1960), 'A Folksinger's Choice' (1962), 'Songs of the Earth' (1967) and 'A New Day' (1969)
    President of Actors' Equity (1973-82)
    Served on the National Council on the Arts (1977-82)
    He said about his brief stint on a communal farm in Palestine, 'I was hopelessly bored. I would stand around in heaps of manure and sing about the beauty of the work I wasn't doing.'
    He auditioned for the role of Auric Goldfinger in the James Bond film, but lost out to an actor who could not speak intelligible English.
    He was divorced twice.
    After Ronald Reagan proposed cutting the budget of the National Endowment of the Arts by over a third, Bikel said, 'Every profession has its John Wilkes Booth. Reagan is ours.' (Leaving aside the whole question of hyperbole, surely John Wilkes Booth is the John Wilkes Booth of the acting profession.)
    His official website repeatedly calls him a 'Renaissance man.' (You may have had success in multiple fields of show biz, but you ain't exactly Leonardo da Vinci.)
    When he was 13, his family fled Austria to escape the Nazi takeover.
    He was one of the co-founders of the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv (1944).
    He was an organizer of the first Newport Folk Festival (1958) and opened the Unicorn, the first folk music coffeehouse in Los Angeles (1962).
    He was fluent in five languages and has recorded songs in 20.
    He joined the high-IQ society Mensa.

Credit: C. Fishel

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