Theodore Meir Bikel (pronounced bih-KEL; May 2, 1924 – July 20, 2015) was an Austrian American Jewish actor, folk singer, musician, composer, and activist. He made his stage debut in Tevye the Milkman in Tel Aviv, Israel, when he was in his teens. He later studied acting at Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his London stage debut in 1948 and in New York in 1955. He made his film debut in The African Queen in 1951, and in 1958 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in The Defiant Ones. For most of his acting career, he played primarily character parts in American and British films, often portraying foreigners, due to his ability to speak numerous languages. He was also a widely recognized recorded folksinger and guitarist, sometimes performing to support Democratic Party politics. In 1959 he co-founded the Newport Folk Festival and created the role of Captain von Trapp opposite Mary Martin as Maria in the original Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. In 1969 Bikel began acting and singing on stage as Tevye in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, a role he performed more often than any other actor to date. The production won nine Tony Awards and was one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history. Bikel was president of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and was president of Actors' Equity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Partners for Progressive Israel, where he also lectured.