It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Chaim Topol, the legendary Israeli actor best known for his portrayal of Tevye in the film adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof”. Topol, who passed away on March 10, 2023, at the age of 87, was a true icon in the world of cinema and theater, and his contributions to the arts will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.
With a career spanning over seven decades, Topol captivated audiences around the world with his charm, talent, and unforgettable performances, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.
Chaim Topol Obituary
Israeli-born actor Chaim Topol, who played Fiddler on the Roof on both the stage and in cinema, passed away at the age of 87. The actor, simply known as Topol to audiences around the world, passed away on Thursday, according to Israeli president Isaac Herzog.
Herzog tweeted about one of Israel’s most adored actors: “From Fiddler on the Roof to the Roof of the World, Haim Topol, who has passed from us, was one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists, a gifted actor who conquered many stages in Israel and abroad, filled the cinema screens with his presence, and above all entered deep into our hearts.
Israel’s official Twitter account tweeted Thursday: To many of you, he was Tevya, to us Chaim Topol was a national treasure, a cultural icon, and above all a human being who loved his country. Today we celebrate his life and legacy from Tel Aviv to Anatevka. Lechaim.
To many of you, he was Tevya, to us Chaim Topol was a national treasure, a cultural icon and above all a human being who loved his country.
Today we celebrate his life and legacy from Tel Aviv to Anatevka.
— Israel ישראל (@Israel) March 9, 2023
According to the actor’s representative, Topol passed away in Tel Aviv, Israel, after a “long illness.” The actor’s son also informed Israeli media that his father had recently struggled with Alzheimer’s disease. The Tony Award-winning musical Fiddler on the Roof was adapted for the big screen in 1971, and Topol is most remembered for his performance as Russian dairyman Tevye.
Although the role was first made popular on Broadway by actor/comedian Zero Mostel, Topol—a veteran of the Israeli and London musical productions—won the lead role in director Norman Jewison’s film adaptation. For his performance in Fiddler on the Roof, Topol won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
He also received an Academy Award nomination in the same category. Ten years later, for a London production of the show, the actor would reprise his Tevye role, and in 1990, for still another revival, he would play Tevye on Broadway.
Topol, who performed the role of Tevye onstage an estimated 3,500 times, also played Galileo in a 1975 movie about the astronomer, Dr. Hans Zarkov in the 1980 Queen-composed Flash Gordon adaption, and James Bond ally Milos Colombo in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only.
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Topol’s Legacy on the Stage & Screen Explained
In 1967, Topol started appearing in theatre versions of Fiddler on the Roof as Tevye, the disadvantaged and devout Jewish milkman who lives in the village of Anatevka. In the 1971 adaption of Fiddler on the Roof by director Norman Jewison, Topol played the part of Tevye and gained enormous fame for it.
The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Topol. Topol is thought to have performed Tevye in more than 3,500 theatre productions of Fiddler on the Roof between 1967 and 2009.
In addition to playing Tevye, Topol also played Dr. Hans Zarkov in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie and Milos Columbo, a Greek smuggler, in Roger Moore’s James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. The Holocaust drama Left Baggage from 1998 served as Topol’s final feature film credit before his death.
Audiences will not soon forget Topol’s contributions to stage and television thanks to these roles, particularly his moving depiction of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.