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Bikel Folksings to Calm Fellow Passengers on Hi Jacked Airliner

January 29, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Actor-singer Theodore Bikel used his well-known talents as a folksinger last night to keep calm his fellow passengers aboard a hijacked United Airlines 747 during the two hours they were held hostage at Kennedy Airport.

Bikel who is chairman of the governing board of the American Jewish Congress, said he took down his guitar and did what he knows best, after the passengers aboard the Los Angeles-New York plane realized they had been hijacked. The hijacker, a woman who said she was carrying nitroglycerin, allowed 24 of the 131 passengers to be released when the plane landed.

The passengers and 12 crew members were released after an FBI agent who had been talking to the woman overpowered her. The woman had demanded that a 25-page religious message she had be read by Charlton Heston or Linda Carter, TV’s “Wonder Woman.” The woman, who was later identified as lrene McKinney, a 49-year-old would-be actress, was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court. in Brooklyn on a charge of air piracy. The bag which she said contained explosives was filled only with perfume and personal items. Bikel was helped in entertaining the passengers by Dino Martin, son of Dean Martin, and actor Sam Jaffe.

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