Chaim Topol passes away at the age of 87

Chaim Topol passes away at the age of 87

Chaim Topol, the Academy Award-nominated actor known for his role as Tevye in the 1971 film “Fiddler on the Roof,” passed away at the age of 87.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced his death on Wednesday, referring to him as “one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists” and “a gifted actor who conquered many stages in Israel and overseas, filled the cinema screens with his presence and above all entered deep into our hearts.”

According to reports, Topol’s cause of death was Alzheimer’s, a disease he had been diagnosed with several years ago.

He first played the role of Tevye on stage in Israel and London in the late 1960s, before being selected to play the same character in the film version of “Fiddler on the Roof” over Zero Mostel, who had played the role on Broadway.

Despite being in his mid-30s and playing a character about 20 years older, Topol was critically acclaimed and won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy in 1972.

His renditions of “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Tradition” are two of the most memorable songs in movie history.

Topol was also nominated for an Oscar, one of eight nominations the film received, for his performance as Tevye.

He was nominated again for a Tony Award in 1991 for his role in a Broadway revival of the show. Topol played Tevye on and off through 2009, but “Fiddler on the Roof” was not his only highlight.

He won the Golden Globe for Best Newcomer — Male in 1965 for his work in “Sallah Shabati,” an Israeli comedy. For his performance in the 1972 comedy-drama “Follow Me!,” he was named Best Actor by the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Topol played Dr. Hans Zarkov in the 1980 cult classic superhero film “Flash Gordon” and appeared in the 1981 James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” as a smuggler who helps 007, played by Roger Moore.

Additionally, he illustrated more than 20 books in Hebrew and English and produced sketches of Israeli presidents as part of a stamp series. In 2015, he received the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement.

Topol married Galia Finkelstein, and they had three children, Anat, Ady, and Omer. His legacy as “one of the giants of Israeli culture” will be greatly missed.

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