Theodore Bikel was “the singer of his people”-Emmy winning, Oscar and Tony-nominated actor, singer, and peace activist who defined iconic roles in The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof, released dozens of albums of folk songs, was co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival, took a lead role in the civil rights movement, was a long time president of Actor’s Equity, and helped secure the survival of Yiddish culture for future generations.
Bikel made many visits to Montreal, including one I proudly arranged to JPPS 12 years ago. It was a remarkable appearance to be sure.
Produced by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music in cooperation with his wife, Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, this short documentary tribute features Bikel reflecting on his life and career in an oral history session recorded in the final months of his life. Dozens of rare photographs from his personal archives enhance the story. Bikel’s own recordings form the musical score.
The release of the short documentary is timed to coincide with the three-year commemoration (yahrzeit) of Bikel’s passing on July 21, 2015, at age 91.
“It is impossible to believe three years have passed,” says Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, who is the founder and Director of the Theodore Bikel Legacy Project. “People continue to approach us daily with their warm memories, with their appreciation for everything that Theo meant to them, and with the wish that his clear voice for peace and justice could be heard again. Theo is greatly missed, but his memory is indeed a blessing and his legacy lives on.”
“Bikel was a giant in every sense of the word-his imposing stature, his many talents, his commitment to activism, and his influence on Jewish culture,” notes Milken Archive Curator Jeff Janeczko. “Watching him reflect on his remarkable life and many accomplishments reminds us of the hole that remains where he once stood.”