Members of the cultural glitterati gathered in New York last week to pay their respects, remember and celebrate cultural icon, Theodore Bikel.
Among those who lent their time and respect to the event were Bikel’s esteemed widow Aimee Ginsburg, who flew in from Los Angeles, folk music legend Peter Yarrow, celebrated author, Erica Jong and esteemed therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
The American-Austrian-Jewish actor, folk-singer, activist and inspiration sadly passed away at the age of 91 on July 21 in West Hollywood.
“Theodore’s impact on the arts, history, Jewish culture and the world in general cannot be underestimated,” said the event’s host, renowned New York Developer and close friend of the late Tony and Oscar nominee, Elie Hirschfeld.
“His accomplishments as an actor, troubadour, activist and human being will never be equaled in my lifetime,” said Hirschfeld.
Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and English, Bikel was a towering cultural figure across the globe. He was one of the co-founders of the Israeli Chamber Theatre, graduated from the London Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was nominated for an Academy Award for his stirring performance as an American Southern Sherriff in 1958’s The Defiant Ones.
He also played “Fiddler on the Roof’”s, Tevye The Milkman, more than 2000 times and put a stirring exclamation point on his career just last year when he portrayed another towering Jewish arts figure in the one-man docu-drama – “Theodore Bikel: In The Shoes of Sholom Aleichem.”
Mr. Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, but on the eve of World War II emigrated to what was then, Palestine and is now, Israel. He lived on a kibbutz but left when he realized his future was in performing and not agriculture.
He went on to graduate from the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts in London, before moving to America where he appeared in numerous memorable film and TV roles.
“His exemplary work would fill a thousand lifetimes,” says Hirschfeld. “Words cannot express his passing will impact the world that was made a better place with him in it.”