Theodore Bikel starred in stage productions 'The Sound of Music' and 'Fiddler on the Roof'

Bikel originated the role of Captain von Trapp in the Broadway musical 'The Sound of Music' and appeared in such films as 'My Fair Lady' and 'The Defiant Ones.' He also guest-starred on many TV shows.

Fred Prouser/Reuters
Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the opening night gala of the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Actor Theodore Bikel, who appeared in such films as “The Defiant Ones” and “My Fair Lady” and appeared onstage in the musicals “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” among others, has died.

Mr. Bikel, who was born in Vienna, played the role of Captain von Trapp in the original 1959 Broadway production of “The Sound of Music” opposite Mary Martin and portrayed protagonist Tevye in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” more than 2,000 times onstage.

In addition, he appeared in the 1955 Broadway show “Tonight in Samarkand,” the 1955 show “The Lark,” and the 1978 show “The Inspector General,” among other work. 

In film, he had an early role in the 1951 Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn movie “The African Queen” and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work in the 1958 movie “The Defiant Ones.” He later appeared in the 1964 movie musical “My Fair Lady” as well as the 1966 film “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” among other movies.

He guest-starred on many TV programs, including  “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Mission: Impossible,” “All in the Family,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Dynasty,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Murder, She Wrote” (as different characters, no less). 

Bikel also performed as a folk singer and released various albums.

Many of the musicals in which Bikel appeared most famously have endured over time. The film version of “Music” has become a classic and was the choice of NBC when the network revived the live musical format with “The Sound of Music Live!” in 2013, with “True Blood” actor Stephen Moyer taking on the role of Captain von Trapp for the NBC production (actor Christopher Plummer portrayed the Captain in the 1965 film version). In addition, the movie was recently honored at the Oscars for its fiftieth anniversary, with singer Lady Gaga performing a medley of the most famous songs, including “Edelweiss,” the song performed by Bikel’s character Captain von Trapp in the musical.

“Fiddler” has been a perennial favorite on Broadway, with the show having been revived four times since its original 1964 debut. Another revival is set to open later this year starring actor Danny Burstein of “Cabaret.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to