Chaim Topol Dead: Actor who played ‘Tevye’ in Fiddler On The Roof’ dies age 87 after battle with Alzheimer’s

Chaim Topol Dead: Actor who played ‘Tevye’ in Fiddler On The Roof’ dies age 87 after battle with Alzheimer’s

FIDDLER On The Roof star Chaim Topol died aged 87 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

The Israeli actor was best known for portraying Tevye in the 1971 film and also starred in more than 30 other movies.

The actor died aged 87
The actor died aged 87Credit: AP
Topol died after a long battle with Alzheimer's
Topol died after a long battle with Alzheimer’sCredit: AP
Topol was most famous for his role as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof
Topol was most famous for his role as Tevye in Fiddler on the RoofCredit: Getty

He played Dr. Hans Zarkov in Flash Gordon and James Bond’s foil-turned-ally Milos Columbo in For Your Eyes Only, alongside Roger Moore.

The news of his death was confirmed by Israeli president Isaac Herzog in a Twitter post who paid tribute to “one of the giants of Israeli culture”.

He described Topol as “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”.

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

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Benny Gantz, Israel’s former minister of defense, praised Topol for helping Israelis connect to their roots.

“We laughed and cried at the same time over the deepest wounds of Israeli society,” he wrote of Topols performance.

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

A recipient of two Golden Globe awards and an Oscar nominee, Topol was one of Israel’s top actors.

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Born in Tel Aviv in 1935, Topol got his start in acting in a theatrical troupe in the Israeli army in the 1950s, where he met his future wife Galia

His first major breakthrough 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 gave Topol his first Golden Globe Award.

But the role for which he was most famous arrived in the long-running musical Fiddler on the Roof.

He played the dairyman protagonist, Tevye, a Jewish father trying to maintain his familys cultural traditions despite the turmoil gripping their community in Russia,

Topol won his second Golden Globe for lead actor and went on to spent years playing the role of milkman Tevye both on stage.

The actor was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Tevye in a 1991 Broadway adaptation of the musical. 

In interview in 2015, on the occasion of accepting the Israel prize 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.

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“Sometimes I am surprised when I come to China or when I come to Tokyo or when I come to France or when I come wherever and the clerk at the immigration says Topol, Topol, are you Topol?”

Topol is survived by his wife and three children.

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Aliki Kraterou

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