Chaim Topol, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ actor, dies age 87

Edward Settle
Edward Settle

Chaim Topol, the actor best known for playing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” has died, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced. He was 87.

Netanyahu paid tribute to Topol on Thursday and conveyed his condolences, calling him a “multi-faceted artist, with great charisma and energy.”

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“Sadly, the fiddler on the roof is no longer with us. The strings of the fiddle have fallen silent. The story of Haim Topol’s life has been sealed but I am certain that his contribution to Israeli culture will live on for generations,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “He greatly loved the land of Israel, and the people of Israel loved him in return.”

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Born Sept. 9, 1935 in Tel Aviv, Topol was known by his surname throughout his career.

His acting saw him win many international film awards, including two Golden Globes: Most promising newcomer in 1965 for playing in the title role “Sallah Shabati” and best actor in a motion picture comedy or musical for “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1972.

Israel Obit Topol

Israeli actor Chaim Topol speaks during an interview in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 8, 2015. 

He was also Oscar-nominated for his performance of Tevye the milkman in 1971.

Other notable roles he played were Dr. Hans Zarkov in “Flash Gordon” (1980) and Milos Columbo alongside Roger Moore’s James Bond in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

Eight years ago, Netanyahu awarded Topol with the Israel Prize, which is regarded as the country’s most prestigious and highest form of honor in culture.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also released a statement on Twitter Thursday, paying tribute to the late actor.

“From fiddler on the roof to the roof of the world, Haim Topol, who has passed away from us, was one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists, 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 Herzog and Netanyahu, Topol was also involved in charity work with sick and disabled children.

“Topol was one of the giants of Israeli culture and he will be greatly missed,” Herzog tweeted.

Topol is survived by his wife, Galia Topol, and their three children.

CNN has contacted his representatives.


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