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Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem

Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem

Chicago Premiere!

Sunday, February 8, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Listen to audio from the program

The lives of two beloved icons are woven together in
Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem,
a masterful new documentary narrated by Alan Alda.
This was the film's Chicago premiere.

View the trailer

The pioneering Yiddish writer and unstoppable performer
have much in common: wit, wisdom, and talent, all shot through with deep humanity and Yiddishkeit. The film combines Bikel's charismatic storytelling with the story of Sholom Aleichem's remarkable life.

"Performance packed!"

"Moving and thoroughly entertaining...
had audience clapping"
Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

"Critics Pick"
Australia Jewish News

Theodore Bikel, now age 90, has portrayed Tevye the Milkman more than 2,000 times on stage, making him a modern day partner to Sholom Aleichem’s pioneering portrayals of both real and imagined Jewish life. (Please note: Theodore Bikel is not able to join us in Chicago for this premiere. But you'll see lots of him — up close, personal, and larger than life — on the big screen!)

Andrew PatnerMusic critic Andrew Patner — critic-at-large for 98.7WFMT Chicago and, and the classical music and opera critic for the Chicago Sun-Times — was scheduled to lead a discussion following this screening. With shock and sadness we learned of his sudden death earlier in the week. He was a passionate proponent of the arts who will be missed here in Chicago and worldwide. Read more about Andrew Patner>

Generously stepping in for Andrew was Chicago musician and music historian Stuart Rosenberg. A founding member of the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, Stuart has long been involved with the preservation of Jewish music. In his musical career, he has performed with a truly diverse range of musicians — from Sir Georg Solti to The Moody Blues — including the legendary Theodore Bikel. 

Film provided by
National Center for Jewish Film



USA, 2014, 75 minutes
Directed by John Lollos
Executive Producer: Theodore Bikel
Narrated by Alan Alda 

About Theodore Bikel

Born 1924 in Vienna, Theodore Bikel was thirteen when he and his parents left Austria for Palestine. Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German with a respectable command of English and French, he intended to study and teach linguistics. But the pull of the theatre was stronger, and he joined the famous Habimah Theatre in 1943. A year later, he became one of the co-founders of the Israeli Chamber Theatre.

In 1946, Bikel entered London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but his career began in earnest when Sir Laurence Olivier offered him a role in A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Vivien Leigh. On Broadway, his memorable performances include his Tony-nominated portrayal of Baron von Trapp in the original production of The Sound of Music.

He made his film debut in The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. He has played a Chinese crook, Scottish police officer, American university dean, Russian submarine skipper, Czech MVD officer, Jewish refugee, Greek peanut vendor, Hindu doctor, and Hungarian linguist. His Emmy-winning television career spans 60 years and includes him playing Henry Kissinger in The Final Days, the title role in Julius Caesar, and parts in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Mission Impossible, Columbo, and Murder She Wrote.


This program was part of the Solomon Goldman Lecture Series, generously endowed by Rose and the late Sidney Shure.