Theodore Bikel was “the singer of his people”—an actor, singer, and activist who defined iconic roles in The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof, released dozens of albums of folk songs, and helped secure the survival of Yiddish culture for future generations. Produced by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music in cooperation with his wife, Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, this video tribute features Bikel reflecting on his life and career in an oral history session recorded in the final months of his life. Dozens of photographs from his personal archives enhance the story. Narrated by Aimee Ginsburg Bikel.
The Milken Archive explores one of the most celebrated periods and genres of American Jewish music: the "heyday" of American Yiddish theater—including Yiddish Musical Theater, Yiddish Vaudeville, and Yiddish Film and Yiddish Radio—and the songwriters, lyricists, composers, and singers who made it what it was. These various Yiddish stage entertainment vehicles (also known as Second Avenue, after the Lower Manhattan street near which most of the theaters existed) flourished for more than six decades among large segments of eastern European immigrant populations and their American-born children, articulating the struggles and triumphs of an immigrant generation trying to find its place in the American "melting pot."