Because I’m a musician, not an actor, I’ve always thought of Bikel as a folk singer. And indeed he was one but acting was his first love.
Bikel’s breakthrough stage role in London was in the 1949 production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and he was nominated for an Oscar for playing Southern sheriff Max Muller in the film “The Defiant Ones,” directed by Stanley Kramer.“ I said to Stanley (Kramer), ‘I’m not a Southerner. I wasn’t even born in America,’” Bikel said in an 2006 interview with the Montreal Gazette. “He said, ‘A good actor is a good actor is a good actor.’ I’ve never forgotten it.”
We saw The Defiant Ones (with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier) during the 50s series last year.