HomeAmerican EntertainmentChaim Topol, Oscar-Nominated ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Actor, Dead at 87

Chaim Topol, Oscar-Nominated ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Actor, Dead at 87

by Taylor Cunningham
Chaim Topol
(Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)

Chaim Topol, the Oscar-nominated actor who played the lead role of Tevye in the film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof has died. He was 87.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced the news on Wednesday, March 8.

“From Fiddler on the Roof to the roof of the world, Chaim Topol, who has passed away from us, was one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists,” he wrote on Twitter. “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.”

Herzog added that beyond his esteemed film career, Topol was a humanitarian who led Kfar Nahar Jordan, a “unique village” that was established to care for “sick and disabled children and their families.”

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President Herzog noted that he knew the late actor well and further recognized his great contribution to his country.

“Topol was one of the giants of Israeli culture, and he will be greatly missed,” Herzog added. “Condolences to his dear family and all his loved ones. Of blessed memory.”

Chaim Topol Earned the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2015

Aside from Fiddler on the Roof, Topol also starred in 25 other Hollywood series and films, including the 1981 Bond installment For Your Eyes Only.

Off the screen, Topol was also a decorated singer and illustrator. He even returned to his role of Tevye for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. And in 1991, he earned a Tony nomination for his performance.

He starred on stage on and off through 2009. And he later revealed that in total, he played the part in over 3,500 productions.

Chaim Topol had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease in the later years of his life. According to Deadline, he died in Tel Aviv.

His son, Omer, spoke of his father to YnetNews and explained that Topol privately battled with his diagnosis for years. He described him as “an amazing actor who developed all kinds of tactics to cover up the problems that began to arise,” so he could continue his humanitarian work.

For his efforts with the Jordan River Village and other charities, Topol also won the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.

Chaim Topol is survived by his wife of 67 years, Galia Finkelstein, and their three children, Anat, Ady, and Omer.