Entertainment & Arts

Actor Chaim Topol honoured with Israel Award

Chaim Topol Image copyright AP
Image caption Topol's films include Fidler on the Roof, Bond movie For Your Eyes Only and Flash Gordon

Actor Chaim Topol has been honoured with the prestigious Israel Award for lifetime achievement.

Known by many fans simply as Topol, his most famous roles include Jewish milkman Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

He won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for the 1971 film, after first playing the character on the West End stage and later on Broadway.

Topol also played Roger Moore's wingman in James Bond film For Your Eyes Only and Dr Hans Zarkov in Flash Gordon.

Career-defining role

Fiddler on the Roof's Tevye is the role that has defined his career, and he estimates he has played the part more than 3,500 times on stage - most recently in 2009. However Topol told Associated Press he was "not complaining".

"How many people are known for one part? How many people in my profession are known worldwide?" he said.

"Sometimes I am surprised when I come to China or when I come to Tokyo or when I come to France or when I come wherever and the clerk at the immigration says `Topol, Topol, are you Topol?'

"So yes many people saw it and it is not a bad thing.''

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Topol last played the role of Tevye in a 2009 revival of Fiddler on the Roof

The actor started his career in the 1950s when he joined a theatrical troupe in the Israeli army.

He landed the lead in 1964 Israeli film Sallah Shabati which was nominated for the best foreign language Oscar and won Topol his first Golden Globe Award.

He made his English-language debut in Cast a Giant Shadow alongside Kirk Douglas and his other film roles include the title role in Galileo.

Younger Israeli audiences will know his voice from dubbing the Hebrew-language version of The Jungle Book and two of the Harry Potter films.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Topol in 1967, the year after he appeared in Cast a Giant Shadow with Kirk Douglas

The actor still lives in the Tel Aviv childhood home of his wife of 60 years, Galia.

"I wasn't brought up in Hollywood. I was brought up in a kibbutz here and I started to work at the age of 14 in a printing house," he said.

"Obviously, when you are successful in a film and the money flows, yes, obviously, it is very nice. But to tell you that is the most important thing, I am not sure."

Topol said he is now working on a screenplay and continues to act on stage alongside his charity work.

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