The Oscar and Tony-nominated character actor and folk singer, who originated the role of Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music on the New York stage and starred in Fiddler on the Roof, passed away on Tuesday, aged 91.
Bikel also appeared in director John Huston’s 1951 movie classic The African Queen, and his big screen credits included The Defiant Ones, My Fair Lady, The Pride and the Passion, and World War II submarine thriller The Enemy Below, as well as The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, and Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.
Behind the scenes, Bikel was president of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and Actors Equity.
He was born in Austria and fled to Palestine as a refugee escaping Nazi Europe with his family. He became an actor in Israel in his teens and made his stage debut there in Tevye the Milkman in 1943. He found success in London in the late 1940s as one of the stars of You Can’t Take It with You and the acclaimed A Streetcar Named Desire, opposite Vivien Leigh.
He then moved to the US and made his Broadway debut in Tonight in Samarkand. Bikel landed his first Tony Award nomination in 1958 for his role in The Rope Dancers and he was nominated again in 1960 for The Sound of Music.
But his most famous stage role came in 1967 as Tevye in the hit musical Fiddler on the Roof - he played the character over 2000 times, according to Variety.com.
Bikel was also an accomplished folk musician, who co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and Los Angeles' fabled folk venues the Unicorn and Cosmo Alley.
He recorded 27 albums and released his autobiography, Theo: The Autobiography of Theodore Bikel in the mid-1990s.
Among his many accolades, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award at last month's The Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party.
Flowers were placed on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday afternoon.