“Geiger auf dem Dach” star Topol has died at the age of 87

Topol, the Israeli actor best known for playing Tevye, the soulful shtetl milkman at the center of Fiddler on the Roof, a role he played thousands of times on stage and screen, has died . He was 87.

His death was announced on Thursday by Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Twitter. Herzog did not name the time of death or the cause of death.

Director Norman Jewison, right, and Israeli actor Topol, who played the protagonist Tevye.

Director Norman Jewison, right, and Israeli actor Topol, who played the protagonist Tevye.Credit:Zeitgeist Films

Topol – born Chaim Topol, he used only his last name for much of his professional life – rose to international fame as the star of the 1971 film version of Fiddler. The director, Norman Jewison, preferred Topol, then a little-known stage actor, to Zero Mostel, who had created the role on Broadway.

The film, for which Topol received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award, made him a star. For much of the late 20th century, it was, according to The Jerusalem Post in 2012, “Israel’s most famous export since the Jaffa orange.”

Topol reprized Tevye in stage productions worldwide for decades, including a 1990 Broadway revival for which he received a Tony nomination. By 2009, he had played the character more than 3,500 times, by his own estimate, beginning in his early 30s and well into his 70s.

Chaim Topol in a photo from April 1974.

Chaim Topol in a photo from April 1974. Credit:Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

His other film credits include the title role in Galileo, Joseph Losey’s 1975 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play; Flash Gordon (1980), in which he portrayed scientist Hans Zarkov; and the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), starring Roger Moore, in which he played Greek smuggler Milos Columbo.

On television, he played Polish Jew Berel Jastrow in the 1983 miniseries The Winds of War, in which he reprized the role for the sequel War and Remembrance, which aired from 1988-89.

But it was undeniably for Tevye – the weary, tradition-bound everyman who quarrels with God, laments his lot as a poor father of five daughters and lives increasingly cautiously amid the pogroms of early 20th-century Tsarist Russia – that Topol remained best known.

“Like Yul Brynner in ‘The King and I’ and Rex Harrison in ‘My Fair Lady,’ Topol has become almost synonymous with his character,” said United Press International in 1989.

The New York Times

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/fiddler-on-the-roof-star-topol-dies-at-87-20230309-p5cqwx.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture “Geiger auf dem Dach” star Topol has died at the age of 87

Jaclyn Diaz

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