Longtime Wilton resident Theodore Bikel died of natural causes at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 21, at the age of 91.
Bikel, who referred to himself as “a general practitioner in the world of the arts,” was known for his versatility.
He was a world-renowned actor, as well as a folksinger, guitarist, author, lecturer, raconteur, activist and arts advocate.
Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, in May 1924, to Miriam and Josef Bikel, who were Jewish immigrants from Bukovina in Central Europe.
Following the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938, Bikel and his parents fled to Palestine.
Bikel — who was fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish and German with a “respectable command of English and French,” according to bikel.com — had planned to study and teach comparative linguistics.
However, he was more drawn to theater and joined the Habimah Theatre as an apprentice actor in 1943.
In 1944, Bikel co-founded the Israeli Chamber Theatre, and in 1946, he entered London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and graduated with honors two years later.