Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Theo Bikel worked with Americans for the Arts from its earliest days when it was known as the Associated Councils on the Arts. He was a board member starting in the early 1970’s and continued in that role for nearly 30 years, later becoming a member of the Artists Committee. Beyond his distinguished career as a performer, he was an extraordinary artist advocate and activist, whose many contributions included serving as President of Actors’ Equity Association and a member of the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Carter. 

Theodore Bikel, a prolific performer and political activist, was nominated for a Tony award for the character Captain Georg Von Trapp in the original Broadway production of "The Sound of Music." He also defined the role of Tevye the Milkman during more than 2,200 performances of "Fiddler on the Roof," and acted in movies from the 1950s- 1990s. He recieved the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a sherrif in "The Defiant Ones" (1958). 

Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, stated upon hearing the news of his passing “I had the privilege of working with Theo on a variety of arts issues over the years, whether at our National Arts Advocacy Day or in delegations to Congress. It was like working directly with unbridled passion—his advocacy helped keep federal support for the arts alive and flowing. He was always brilliant, always fighting for the artist and the value of the arts, always a great orator as well as musician and artist, and always great fun to be with. He will be greatly missed.”