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Broadway's 'Fiddler on the Roof' Star Theodore Bikel Dead at 91

  • Reuters

FILE - Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the opening night of the UCLA Film and Television Archive film series "Champion: The Stanley Kramer Centennial" and the world premiere screening of the newly restored "Death of a Salesman" in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 9, 2013.

FILE - Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the opening night of the UCLA Film and Television Archive film series "Champion: The Stanley Kramer Centennial" and the world premiere screening of the newly restored "Death of a Salesman" in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 9, 2013.

Actor Theodore Bikel, best known for his starring role as Tevye, the poor Jewish milkman, in the Broadway hit musical "Fiddler on the Roof," died on Tuesday at age 91 at a Los Angeles hospital, his publicist said.

The Austrian-born performer, who also created the stage role of Captain von Trapp in the original Broadway production of "The Sound of Music," died of natural causes, his spokesman, Harlan Boll, said in a statement.

Bikel began his run as Tevye in 1967 after the late Zero Mostel had originated the role. He went on to perform the part of the struggling Jewish dairyman, and such memorable songs as "Tradition" and "If I Were a Rich Man," more than 2,000 times, the most of any Broadway actor, Boll said.

Bikel had a memorable moment in "The Sound of Music" singing "Edelweiss," which was written for him to sing during final off-Broadway tryouts of the show.

Bikel's big-screen career spanned more than 150 appearances, including his 1951 movie debut as a German naval officer in the classic "The African Queen" and an Oscar-nominated turn as a southern sheriff opposite Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in "The Defiant Ones."

He also played Zoltan Karpathy, the dialect expert, in the movie version of "My Fair Lady."

Bikel appeared in numerous television shows during three decades - ranging from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation," in which he played the adoptive father of Klingon Lieutenant Commander Worf.

As a recording artist, he produced several albums of Jewish folk songs.

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