Topol dies at 87

Topol (1935-2023)

Chaim Topol, the Israeli actor best known for playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, has died at 87, according to various reports, including The New York Times.

His death was announced on Twitter by Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel.

The actor “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,” Herzog wrote, according to a Google translation of the tweet.

The actor starred in the 1971 movie version of Fiddler on the Roof. He appeared in stage revivals and played Tevye more than 3,500 times, according to the Times.

Topol played Columbo, an ally for Roger Moore’s James Bond in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. The movie adapted two Ian Fleming short stories. The conflict between Topol’s character and Julian Glover’s Kristatos was taken from the Risico short story that was part of the For Your Eyes Only collection of stories.

The film For Your Eyes Only was a down-to-earth entry in the Bond film series. Columbo has been set up by Kristatos to appear to be Bond’s opponent. Eventually, Bond discovers the truth and joins forces with Columbo.

Pinewood Studios posted a tribute to the actor on social media. Topol was also in the cast of 1980’s Flash Gordon, as noted by the studio.

UPDATE: I was reminded by reader Mike Schneider that Topol played a role in having former Eon Productions partners Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman reconcile years after their mid-1970s breakup. Here’s an excerpt from an MI6 HQ biography of Saltzman.

The old partners had not parted on the best of terms but when, at Topol‘s suggestion, Cubby invited his long-time producer friend to the premiere of “For Your Eyes Only” (1981), they rekindled a friendship.