The two-time Golden Globe–winning actor was lauded by Israel's President Isaac Herzog as "one of the giants of Israeli culture."

Chaim Topol, the veteran stage and screen actor who delighted audiences as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, has died. He was 87.

Israel's President Isaac Herzog announced Topol's death in a statement on Twitter Thursday, describing the actor as "one of the giants of Israeli culture." He did not provide a cause of death or death date. 

"From Fiddler on the Roof to the roof of the world, Haim Topol, who has passed away from us, was one of the most prominent Israeli stage artists," Herzog wrote, as translated by Google. "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."

'Fiddler on the Roof' star Chaim Topol
| Credit: Everett Collection

Born in Tel Aviv in 1935, Topol got his start acting in a theatrical troupe in the Israeli army in the 1950s. His big break came in 1964, when he starred as Sallah in the Israeli comedy Sallah Shabati. The film was not only the first Israeli film ever to be nominated for an Oscar, but also led Topol to win his first Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer that same year.

Topol received further international acclaim for his role as Tevye — a pious, hard-working father raising seven daughters — in the 1971 film adaptation of the beloved musical. His powerful performance earned him an Oscar nomination and his second Golden Globe, this time for Best Actor.

Following the success of Fiddler, Topol starred as the titular astronomer in 1975's Galileo, the ingenious scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov in 1980's Flash Gordon, and as the Greek smuggler Milos Columbo in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. He also returned to play Tevye multiple times throughout his career — including in the show's 1991 Broadway revival, for which he earned a Tony nomination. He appeared, to his estimate, in more than 3,500 Fiddler on the Roof performances from the 1960s to 2009.

Alongside his career in entertainment, Topol was a philanthropist who served as chairman of the board of Jordan River Village, a charity organization that provides "Israel's only free overnight camp for all children living with chronic, serious, or life-threatening illnesses as well as children with special needs," per its website

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