HomeUS News update'Fiddler on the Roof' star Chaim Topol dies at 87

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ star Chaim Topol dies at 87

Israeli leaders said Thursday that Chaim Topol, a prominent Israeli actor who enthralled generations of theater-goers and moviegoers with his portrayal of the long-suffering and charismatic milkman Tevey in “Fiddler on the Roof,” has died in Tel Aviv. I passed away. He was 87 years old.

The reason was not immediately released.

Israeli leaders tweeted their memories and condolences to Topol’s family on Thursday.

Israel’s formal president, Isaac Herzog, praised Topol as “one of the most outstanding Israeli actors” who “filled movie screens with his presence and, above all, entered deep into our hearts.”

Israel’s former Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised Topol for helping connect Israelis to their roots.

“We laughed and cried at the same time at the deep wounds of Israeli society,” he wrote of Topol’s performance.

Yair Lapid, the head of Israel’s opposition, said Topol taught Israelis “love for culture and love for the land”.

Topol’s charity, Jordan River Village, also announced his death, paying tribute to him as an “inspiration” whose “legacy will continue for generations to come.”

Recipient of two Golden Globe Awards and nominated for both an Academy Award and a Tony Award, Topol Long is ranked among Israel’s most decorated actors. Most recently in 2015, he was celebrated for his contributions to film and culture with his country’s most prestigious honor, the Israel Award for Lifetime Achievement. Until a few years ago, he remained involved with theater and said he still fielded requests to play Tevye.

Fiddler on the Roof
Topol was one of Israel’s most famous actors.Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

Topol began acting in the 1950s in a drama troupe in the Israeli army, where he met his future wife, Galia. His first major success was the lead role in the 1964 hit Israeli film Sallah Shabati, about the hardships of Middle Eastern immigrants to Israel. The film made history as the first Israeli film to earn an Academy Award nomination and also earned Topol his first Golden Globe Award.

Two years later, she made her English-language film debut in “Cast a Giant’s Shadow” alongside Kirk Douglas. But the role of his life came in the long-running musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” in which he played the dearest protagonist, Tevye, a Jewish father who preserves his family’s cultural traditions despite the upheavals their Russian shtetl is in. was trying to keep up.

With his rich voice, folkloric sarcasm and commanding stage presence, Topol’s Tevye became a popular hero in Israel and around the world, driving his horse-drawn wagon and delivering milk, butter and eggs to the rich.

After years playing Tevye on stage in London and on Broadway, he played the lead role in the 1971 Norman Jewison-directed film version, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He lost to Gene Hackman in “The French Connection”.

Topol has performed the role over 3,500 times on stage, most recently in 2009. With the help of heavy make-up and costume work, he first portrayed a much older, overbearing dairyman in his 30s and aged considerably in the role.

Topol faced stiff competition to land the role in Jewison’s hit film—many talents have played Tevye in more than a dozen languages ​​since “Fiddler on the Roof” first appeared. Topol has said that his personal experience as a descendant of Russian Jews helped him relate to Tevye and deepen his performance.

Chaim Topol in Tel Aviv in 2015.Ariel Shalit/AP File

In an interview with The Associated Press from his Tel Aviv home in 2015, on the occasion of accepting the Israel Award for Lifetime Achievement, Topol traced his meteoric rise from modest beginnings to worldwide fame.

“I wasn’t brought up in Hollywood. I was brought up in a kibbutz,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder when I come to China or when I come to Tokyo or when I come to France or wherever and the clerk at immigration says ‘Topol, Topol, are you Topol?’

Topol also starred in more than 30 other films, including “Galileo,” Dr. “For Your Eyes Only” with Hans Zarkov and Roger Moore features James Bond’s foil-turned-ally Milos Columbo.

But he became synonymous with just one role – Tevye. Pouring his heart out about his impoverished Jewish community over the years, Topol made audiences laugh and cry from Broadway and West End stages.

“How many people are known for one part? How many people in my profession are known around the world?” he told the AP. “I’m not complaining.”

Yet Topol said she sometimes needed to look outside of acting to find meaning in her life. He devoted his later years to charity as chairman of the board of Jordan River Village, a camp serving Middle Eastern children with life-threatening diseases.

“I’m interested in charity and making it more fulfilling than running from one (acting) part to another,” he said. “When you are successful in a film and the money flows in, yes, obviously, it is great. But to tell you which is the most important thing, I’m not sure.

Topol is survived by his wife and three children.



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