WASHINGTON: Best known for playing Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," actor Chaim Topol died in Israel following "a long illness,". The actor's representative confirmed the news on Thursday. He was 87.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Topol on Thursday and conveyed his condolences, calling him a "multi-faceted artist, with great charisma and energy", reported CNN, a US-based media company.
"The story of Haim Topol's life has been sealed but I am certain that his contribution to Israeli culture will live on for generations," Netanyahu said in a statement. "He greatly loved the land of Israel, and the people of Israel loved him in return."
He was also Oscar-nominated for his performance of Tevye, the milkman in 1971.
Other notable roles he played include Dr Hans Zarkov in "Flash Gordon" (1980) and Milos Columbo alongside Roger Moore's James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only" (1981).
Although Topol is recognized for his acclaimed part in a musical, the actor-singer said he couldn't play an instrument or read music. To him, music was like "organized noise".
"I actually was deprived of music until the age of 12," he told BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 1983. "We didn't have a radio in the house."
Before the big screen foray as Tevye, Topol said he had temporarily filled in the role on stage in Tel Aviv and was later asked to play the part in London's West End, reported CNN.
"They were very brave to let me have that part ... Considering that my English was so limited," with a "vocabulary of 50 words," he added. "I still don't understand how they let me have the part."
Eight years ago, Netanyahu awarded Topol with the Israel Prize, which is regarded as the country's most prestigious and highest form of honour in culture.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also released a statement on Twitter on Thursday, paying tribute to the late actor.
"From fiddler on the roof to the roof of the world, Haim Topol, who has passed away from us, was one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists, 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."
According to Herzog and Netanyahu, Topol was also involved in charity work with sick and disabled children.
"Topol was one of the giants of Israeli culture and he will be greatly missed," Herzog tweeted.
Topol is survived by his wife and three children.
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