Topol, icon of Fiddler on the Roof, dead at 87

Chaim Topol, a number one Israeli actor who charmed generations of theatregoers and movie-watchers along with his portrayal of Tevye, the long-suffering and charismatic milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, has died in Tel Aviv, Israeli leaders mentioned Thursday. He was 87.

The trigger was not instantly launched.

Israeli leaders on Thursday tweeted their recollections and condolences to Topol’s household.

Israel’s ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog hailed Topol as “one of the most excellent Israeli actors,” who “crammed the film screens along with his presence and above all entered deep into our hearts.”

Israeli actor Chaim Topol is proven throughout an interview in Tel Aviv on April 8, 2015. The nation’s leaders praised Topol’s inventive and humanitarian contributions. (Ariel Schalit/The Related Press)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned Topol’s “contribution to Israeli tradition will live on for generations.”

Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s opposition, mentioned Topol taught Israelis “love of tradition and love of the land.”

Topol’s charity, Jordan River Village, additionally introduced his dying, paying tribute to him as an “inspiration” whose “legacy will proceed for generations to return.”

Estimated 3,500 performances as Tevye

A recipient of two Golden Globe awards and a nominee for each an Academy Award and a Tony Award, Topol lengthy has ranked amongst Israel’s most embellished actors. Extra just lately in 2015, he was celebrated for his contributions to movie and tradition with the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, his nation’s most prestigious honour. Up till a couple of years in the past, he remained concerned in theatre and mentioned he nonetheless fielded requests to play Tevye.

Topol received his begin in performing in a theatrical troupe in the Israeli military in the Fifties, the place he met his future spouse Galia. His first main breakthrough was the lead function in the 1964 hit Israeli movie Sallah Shabati, about the hardships of Center Japanese immigrants to Israel. The movie made historical past as the first Israeli movie to earn an Academy Award nomination and likewise gave Topol his first Golden Globe Award.

A bearded man shown in closeup in a black and white photographTopol is proven on Jan. 30, 1968, throughout his run as Tevye in a Fiddler on the Roof manufacturing in London’s West Finish. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Pictures)

Two years later, he made his English-language movie debut alongside Kirk Douglas in Forged a Large Shadow. However the function of his life arrived in the long-running musical Fiddler on the Roof, through which he performed the dairyman protagonist, Tevye, a Jewish father attempting to keep up his household’s cultural traditions regardless of the turmoil gripping their Russian shtetl.

Along with his wealthy voice, folkish witticisms and commanding stage presence, Topol’s Tevye, driving his horse-drawn buggy and delivering milk, butter and eggs to the wealthy, grew to become a well-liked hero in Israel and round the world.

Whereas stage actor Zero Mostel performed Teyve in the 1964 Broadway run, Topol took on the function in London’s West Finish and in a Broadway revival later in the decade.

There isn’t any approach to overstate how a lot this man & this efficiency meant to me. #Topol is a big motive why I grew to become an actor. In truth, his efficiency of Tevye in “Fiddler” was the very first efficiency I ever noticed on a Broadway stage. RIP to an awesome. #SunriseSunset 💔


He scored the lead function in the 1971 movie model directed by Canadian Norman Jewison, successful the Golden Globe award for lead actor and being nominated for a Greatest Actor Academy Award. He misplaced out to Gene Hackman in The French Connection.

Topol performed the half greater than 3,500 occasions on stage, most just lately in 2009. With the assist of heavy make-up and costume work, he first portrayed the a lot older, burlier dairyman in his 30s and fairly actually aged into the function.

Topol has mentioned his private expertise as the descendant of Russian Jews helped him relate to Tevye and deepen his efficiency.

Bond, Flash Gordon roles

In an interview with The Related Press from his Tel Aviv dwelling in 2015, on the event of accepting the Israel prize for lifetime achievement, Topol traced his meteoric rise from modest beginnings to worldwide fame.

“I wasn’t introduced up in Hollywood. I used to be introduced up in a kibbutz,” he mentioned. “Typically I’m shocked after I come to China or after I come to Tokyo or after I come to France or after I come wherever and the clerk at the immigration says ‘Topol, Topol, are you Topol?'”

Topol additionally starred in additional than 30 different films, together with as the lead in Galileo, Dr. Hans Zarkov in Flash Gordon and James Bond’s foil-turned-ally Milos Columbo in For Your Eyes Solely alongside Roger Moore in the Bond function.

Yesterday we misplaced a legend and a mentch.

Relaxation in peace Chaim Topol.



However he grew to become synonymous with only one function — Tevye. Pouring his coronary heart out about his impoverished Jewish group over the years, Topol made audiences snigger and cry from Broadway and West Finish phases.

“How many individuals are identified for one half? How many individuals in my career are identified worldwide?” he informed The Related Press. “I am not complaining.”

But Topol mentioned he typically wanted to look exterior of performing to search out which means in his life. He devoted a lot of his later years to charity as chairman of the board of Jordan River Village, a camp serving Center Japanese kids with life-threatening illnesses.

“I’m interested by charities and discover it extra fulfilling than operating from one [acting] half to a different,” he mentioned. “If you end up profitable in a movie and the cash flows, sure, clearly, it is extremely good. However to inform you that’s the most essential factor, I’m not certain.”

Topol is survived by his spouse and three kids.

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