Actor Chaim Topol, or “Topol” as he was known in the English-speaking world, passed away on March 9, 2023, at 87 in Tel Aviv. Topol was dubbed “Israel’s most famous export since the Jaffa orange” for his iconic performance as Tevye in multiple productions of Fiddler on the Roof.
Everyone is saddened by his passing because of his legendary performances of “If I Were a Rich Man” and his prayerful monologues as Tevye, the milkman. Although he performed the role of Tevye over 3,500 times, his impact goes well beyond that.
Fiddler On The Roof Actor Dies
Chaim Topol, the actor who played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and was known simply by his surname in the industry, passed away on March 9 in Tel Aviv. He was 87. The Israeli actor was a long-time fighter of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fans of the film Fiddler on the Roof, in which he sang the iconic number “If I Were a Rich Man,” will never forget him for portraying Tevye, the immensely lovable yet patient milkman.
In the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, he played a Greek smuggler, and in the science fiction picture Flash Gordon, he played a similar role. Starring in miniseries like “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” for ABC in 1983 (1988). In addition to The House on Garibaldi Street (1979) for ABC, he also acted in the 1987 miniseries Queenie for ABC.
Isaac Herzog, president of Israel, observed that Topol “filled the theatre screens with his presence and above all entered deep into our hearts.”
The tweet below shows tribute paid to the actor Chaim Topol:
Sorry to hear of the death of talented actor & singer Chaim Topol aged 87, here in Fiddler On The Roof singing his most memorable song. RIP Topol pic.twitter.com/3cQZE0S0yA
— John Pitchford🌹💙 (@Johnnypapa64) March 9, 2023
Topol had a long and successful career, during which he was nominated for an Oscar and a Tony Award and won two Golden Globes.
During the 1950s, he joined an Israeli army theatre group and began performing. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as the title character in the Israeli film Sallah Shabati in 1964.
His first role in a film with English subtitles was in Cast a Huge Shadow, released in 1966 and starring him, Kirk Douglas, and John Wayne.
Subsequently, starting in 1967, he became closely linked to Fiddler on the Roof, appearing in over two thousand stage productions of the musical before landing the lead part in the film adaptation, released in 1971. Eight Academy Award nominations were submitted for the film, with Topol up for the best actor.
In 1990, he received a Tony Award nod for his performance in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. After then, Topol kept playing Tevye on stages worldwide, including in Europe, Japan, and Australia.
Galia, his wife of 67 years, and their three children and many grandchildren will carry on his legacy. So what exactly took Chaim Topol’s life?
Actor Chaim Topol’s Cause Of Death
A formal cause of death for Topol has not been announced. However, statements made by his family in recent years strongly suggest that Topol died due to his long-standing battle with Alzheimer’s. In June 2022, Topol’s son Omer announced to the Israeli news outlet Ynet that his father has been suffering from Alzheimer‘s. Later, on March 8th, Omer said that Topol was “living his dying hours.”
The Israel Award for lifetime accomplishment was given to Topol in 2015, and we now know that he was already suffering from the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease at the time. “[My father is] a great actor who created all kinds of strategies to cover up the difficulties that began to appear,” Omer told Ynet. “His Alzheimer’s was in its early stages when he got the Israel Prize. Without everyone noticing, he gave a fantastic speech at the ceremony and subsequent gatherings as well.”
Omer said Topol had “longly prevailed” against Alzheimer’s disease before passing away on March 9. Although Alzheimer’s disease initially manifests as a kind of dementia, it eventually leads to a decline in brain function that makes even the most entire body functions difficult for those who have it.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said, “Chaim Topol was one of the finest Israeli entertainers, and a superb actor praised worldwide and held dear by all of us. Topol did a fantastic job of representing us throughout his career. All of us have laughed and cried at his portrayals of the characters he’s played.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “My wife Sara and I, like everyone in Israel, bid farewell today to our beloved Chaim Topol — a dear member of the Israeli public and one of the greatest artists in Israel, which he truly loved.
His wide smile, warm voice, and unique sense of humor made him a folk hero who won the hearts of the people … Topol assisted sick children and those with special needs out of a strong desire to contribute to the betterment of Israeli society.”
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