Friday, March 10, 2023

Chaim Topol

I've seen a handful of truly masterful performances in my life.  The Van Dyke brothers in The Sunshine Boys.  Sutton Foster and Joel Grey in Anything Goes.  Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees.  

One of the most exciting ones was in 2009 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, watching Fiddler on the Roof.  This production marked Chaim Topol's farewell tour in the role of Tevye.  He was 73 at the time we saw him in Dallas.  And you would never have known it.  He looked as if he had just stepped off the screen from the movie filmed 38 years prior and continued right on the stage.  He played the role with such vitality and power, it was an exceedingly great tour-de-force.  This show created a life goal to be that passionate, to be doing what I love with such energy when I am that age and beyond.

Topol first starred as Tevye the Dairyman in a 1966 Israeli performance of Fiddler on the Roof, starting a career in which he has played the role an estimated 3,500 times.  A role which has brought him international acclaim.  

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has issued a statement honoring "one of the most prominent Israeli stage artists, a gifted actor who conquered many stages in Israel and overseas, filled the cinema screens with his presence and, above all, deeply entered our hearts."  Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated "his wide smile, warm voice, and unique sense of humor made him a folk hero who won the hearts of the people" and former prime minister Yair Lapid remarked "He and his smile will continue to accompany Israeli culture, his rich legacy will forever remain a part of Israel."

Topol passed away March 9, 2023, at the age of 87.

He remains a legend.

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