Chaim Topol

Chaim Topol

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1935-09-09 (86 years old) · Gender: Male · Place of Birth: Tel Aviv, Israel

27 Movies · 8 TV shows

Also Known As: Topol

Biography.

Chaim Topol (Hebrew: חיים טופול‎, born September 9, 1935), also spelled Haym Topol, mononymously known as Topol, is an Israeli actor, singer, comedian, voice artist, film producer, author, and illustrator. He is best known for his portrayal of Tevye the Dairyman, the lead role in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, on both stage and screen, having performed this role more than 3,500 times in shows and revivals from the late 1960s through 2009.Topol began his acting career during his Israeli army service in the Nahal entertainment troupe, and later toured Israel with kibbutz theatre and satirical theatre companies. He was a co-founder of the Haifa Theatre. His breakthrough film role came in 1964 as the title character in Sallah Shabati, by Israeli writer Ephraim Kishon, for which he won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer—Male. Topol went on to appear in more than 30 films in Israel and the United States, including Galileo (1975), Flash Gordon (1980) and For Your Eyes Only (1981). He was described as Israel's only internationally recognized entertainer from the 1960s through the 1980s. He won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1971 film portrayal of Tevye, and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor for a 1991 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof.He is a founder of Variety Israel, an organization serving children with special needs, and Jordan River Village, a year-round camp for Arab and Jewish children with life-threatening illnesses, for which he serves as chairman of the board. In 2015 he was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement.

Personal Life.

Topol married Galia Finkelstein in October 1956. They have one son and two daughters. The couple resides in Galia's childhood home in Tel Aviv. Topol's hobbies include sketching and sculpting.

Early Life.

Topol was born on September 9, 1935, in Tel Aviv, in what was then Mandatory Palestine (now Israel). His father, Jacob Topol, was Russian and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in the early 1930s where he worked as a plasterer; he also served in the Haganah paramilitary organization. His mother, Imrela "Rel" (née Goldman) Topol, was a seamstress.Both of Topol's parents had been involved in the Betar Zionist youth movement before immigrating. His father had Hasidic roots, with a mother coming from a family of Gerrer Hasidim, while his father came from Aleksander Hasidim.Chaim and his two younger sisters grew up in the South Tel Aviv working-class neighborhood of Florentin. As a young child, although he wanted to become a commercial artist, his elementary school teacher, the writer Yemima Avidar-Tchernovitz, saw a theatrical side to him, and encouraged him to act in school plays and read stories to the class.At age 14 he began working as a printer at the Davar newspaper while pursuing his high school studies at night. He graduated high school at age 17 and moved to Kibbutz Geva. A year later, he enlisted in the Israeli army and became a member of the Nahal entertainment troupe, singing and acting in traveling shows. He rose in rank to troupe commander.Twenty-three days after being discharged from military service on October 2, 1956, and two days after marrying Galia Finkelstein, a fellow Nahal troupe member, Topol was called up for reserve duty in the Sinai Campaign. He performed for soldiers stationed in the desert. After the war, he and his wife settled in Kibbutz Mishmar David, where Topol worked as a garage mechanic. Topol assembled a kibbutz theatre company made up of friends from his Nahal troupe; the group toured four days a week, worked on their respective kibbutzim for two days a week, and had one day off. The theatre company was in existence from early 1957 to the mid-1960s. Topol both sang and acted with the group, doing both "loudly".Between 1960 and 1964, Topol performed with the Batzal Yarok ("Green Onion") satirical theatre company, which also toured Israel. Other members of the group included Uri Zohar, Nechama Hendel, Zaharira Harifai, Arik Einstein, and Oded Kotler. In 1960, Topol co-founded the Haifa Municipal Theatre with Yosef Milo, serving as assistant to the director and acting in plays by Shakespeare, Ionesco, and Brecht. In 1965 he performed in the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv.
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