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.”

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