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Theodore Bikel


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A talented folksinger and actor, Theodore Bikel has carved out his place in the modern entertainment industry as a renaissance man. For over 50 years, Bikel has impacted film, the stage, and the arts, from his supporting role in The African Queen in 1951 to his appearance at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival to his appointment to the National Council for the Arts in 1977. Although he was born in Austria, he has lived in Israel, England, and the United States and speaks five languages. Bikel has recorded for Elektra, Columbia, and Reprise, published Folksongs & Footnotes, and served as a vice president of the American Jewish Congress.

Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1924, but his family fled to Palestine in 1938, where they became British subjects. Bikel wanted to study language and become a teacher, so he worked at a communal farm to help pay expenses. Drawn to the theater, however, he left the farm in 1943 to study at the Hamimah Theater in Tel Aviv. Later, Bikel and four other actors formed the Tel Aviv Chamber Theater. In 1946, he left Israel to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. While in England, he also began to take a serious interest in folk music and learn the guitar. In 1947, Bikel’s acting skills were noticed by Sir Laurence Olivier, leading to a part in the London production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

By the early ’50s, Bikel began to play Russian officers and German sailors in English and American films and in 1955, he moved to New York City. The move also coincided with the beginning of a career in folk music.

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  • iamholgerczukay

    Let us ask our studio audience: if you had just been lowered down here on TV with a wire connected to a brown leather harness, forced by crazy person to insert a mysterious imported lamp in the rep-rep-rep into the, into the RE-productive orifice of a lady harpist, and you were a dwarf... would you do it?

    29 Apr 3:32pm Reply
  • soestdyik

    Heet platte land mei platte land mei flanderland , wunderbar ich war hingerissen . soestdyik

    29 Dec 2011 Reply
  • soestdyik

    Yddisch mit Neederlands Dialekt,Grossartig ich bin Begeistert-

    5 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Vaaram

    Habe ihn im Alter von vielleicht 17 ein paar mal zufällig im Radio (Bayern 4 Klassik) gehört und auf Kassette aufgenommen. Habe die alten Aufnahmen ewig nicht mehr gehört. Aber ich weiß noch ganz genau, wie mir Theodore Bikels Musik vom ersten Hören an immer ganz besonders unter die Haut ging...

    14 Aug 2010 Reply
  • sofa2

    Did you know Theodore Bikel played a role in Frank Zappa's movie "200 Motels"?

    1 Mar 2010 Reply
  • tom_dissonance

    no shouts?? none at all?! oy vey.

    4 Jan 2010 Reply

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