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Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party

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Theo Bikel - discography & CD reissues (34)
Obit: Theodore Bikel (1924-2015) (22)
Bikel's An Actor's Holiday album (10)
Theodore Bikel and Traditions (31)
Happy birthday, Theodore Bikel! (12)


GUEST,Mary Katherine 17 Jun 14 - 10:46 PM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 14 - 12:42 AM
Don Firth 18 Jun 14 - 01:46 PM
Elmore 18 Jun 14 - 02:07 PM
ChanteyLass 20 Jun 14 - 09:23 PM
Mrrzy 20 Jun 14 - 09:47 PM
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Subject: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: GUEST,Mary Katherine
Date: 17 Jun 14 - 10:46 PM

Last night I went to a 90th birthday party for Theodore Bikel, held at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. Lots of celebrities were in attendance, both on and off the stage (Leonard Nimoy! Ed Asner!) and lots of wonderful music was interspersed with speeches telling Theo how much his life and work has meant all these years. Among my favorite musical moments: hearing Cathy Fink singing a masterful, slow, poignant song in Yiddish; hearing Theo Bikel singing with Lorin Sklamberg, and later doing a powerful duet with tenor Alberto Mizrahi; Tom Paxton, less than two weeks after the loss of his wife Midge, singing his heart out, with help from Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer and Fred Sokolow; Arlo Guthrie, who brought a new song his father had started and he had completed; Peter Yarrow, who sang Puff the Magic Dragon at Amy Bikel's request and then led the audience in Light One Candle. And the best was last; at the very end, after the obligatory all-hands-on-deck singalongs of This Land is Your Land and We Shall Overcome, Theo sat alone with his guitar in a single spotlight and sang a moving version of Phil Ochs' beautiful When I'm Gone. It was a great party, and wonderful to get to see so many old friends.


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Subject: RE: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 12:42 AM

A great man, and a great singer. So much so that, without wishing to divert attention from his achievements in [what I might call] "our" field, I would point out that he is also a most accomplished actor. He started his career in Israel, where his Austrian family had emigrated after the Anschlüss. I first came across him in London in late 1940s, when my father was editor of the only Yiddish daily paper in England and, under the name of Meier Bikel, he was a Yiddish actor. He presented a season of plays of Jewish interest (in English) at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage, which of course my father reviwed and my mother & I accompanied him and met Mr Bikel -- and also another excellent, very young, actor in the company called David Kossoff! A few years later, early-1950s, when he was playing the Russian Colonel in Peter Ustinov's The Love of Three Colonels in the West End, Mr Bikel visited my mother's French restaurant in Kensington; between courses of his dinner (or perhaps over his coffee!) he took down a guitar that hung on the wall over his head, and played and sang to thunderous applause of the whole place ~~ the first time I became aware of this other so strong string to his bow.

He won't of course remember having once met a 22-y-o me all those years ago; but

Happy Birthday to him -- and Many Happy Returns!

~Michael (82)~


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Subject: RE: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 01:46 PM

In the memoir I'm endeavoring to write, I cover some of the notable singers of folk songs who performed in Seattle during the Century 21 Seattle World's Fair in 1962. This often included an opportunity, one way or another, to meet and spend a little time with the visiting performer. This was how about a half-dozen local folk music buffs had a chance to meet and chat with Theodore Bikel.
The next performer was singer, actor, and Renaissance man Theodore Bikel, fresh from a long run as Captain von Trapp in the original cast of the Broadway production of "The Sound of Music." He sang to a capacity crowd in the Opera House. Like his records, particular his live concert record, "Bravo Bikel," he sang songs in many languages, often humorously introduced, and with brief sub-titles when needed. He mentioned that it was nice to be out doing concerts again, having recently escaped from nightly performances "with twenty nuns and seven children."

He described how he decided to take up the guitar. He had a roommate who played the guitar. When the roommate went away, he left no forwarding address—but he did leave his guitar. "That's worse than leaving a woman behind," Bikel said. "A woman can follow. But a guitar can't. So I kept it!"

Once again, there was an opportunity to meet and talk with him, but this was the day after his concert. A record autographing session had been arranged at Campus Music and Gallery in the University District. Nancy Quensé and I both arrived before 2:00 p.m., the appointed time, along with a couple of other people, and there was Bikel, sitting in front of the counter by a big stack of his records waiting to be autographed.

But it seems that someone goofed and the word hadn't got out. Jim Bates, the store owner, apologized profusely about the mix-up. But actually, Bikel seemed relieved to be able to just relax and sit and chat with us. So for about two hours, a half dozen of us sat around in front of the counter with Bikel. A few people wandered into the shop to browse, and looked curiously at this clump of people sitting and gabbing in front of the counter.

Asked about his prodigious skill with languages, Bikel said that he was born in Vienna into a Jewish family, and that by the age of three he was used to switching easily between three languages, Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. With this early start, he seemed to be able to pick up languages easily, and soon learned English and French. He could speak several other languages fluently and could get along in a number of others.

He commented that the new theaters, such as the Opera House and the Playhouse were going to be a real boon to Seattle. Because of its previous lack of really desirable venues, Seattle had a reputation for not been all that attractive to many performers, but the word had already got around about the new performance halls, so performers would be far more eager to come here.
He also remarked that, as nice as the Opera House is, he would actually have preferred to sing in the Playhouse. He liked the intimate feel of the place.
The new Opera House seated 3,100 people. The nearby Playhouse seated 800. Richard Dyer-Bennet opted to do three concerts in the playhouse rather than one concert in the Opera House.

Bikel was a thoroughly charming, knowledgeable man, and nice to just sit and chat with.

As, for that matter, was Richard Dyer-Bennet.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: Elmore
Date: 18 Jun 14 - 02:07 PM

Bikel (and the Pennywhistlers) opened up the world of international folk music for me. I was pleased to see him give a strong, memorable performance at the Freight and Salvage a year or so ago. I wish him and Aimee all the best.


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Subject: RE: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 09:23 PM

The party sounds wonderful. How lucky you were to be able to attend.

Happy 90th, Theo!


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Subject: RE: Theodore Bikel's 90th birthday party
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 09:47 PM

Wow!


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