48 Facts About Chaim Topol


Chaim Topol, spelled Haym Topol, mononymously known as Topol, was an Israeli actor, singer, and illustrator.


Chaim Topol is best known for his portrayal of Tevye, the lead role in the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof and the 1971 film adaptation, performing this role more than 3,500 times from 1967 through 2009.


Chaim Topol went on to appear in more than 30 films in Israel and the United States, including Galileo, Flash Gordon, and For Your Eyes Only.


Chaim Topol was described as Israel's only internationally recognized entertainer from the 1960s through the 1980s.


Chaim Topol 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.


Chaim Topol was 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 served as chairman of the board.


Chaim Topol was born in Tel Aviv, in what was then Mandatory Palestine.


Chaim Topol's father Jacob Topol was born in Russia and in the early 1930s immigrated to Mandatory Palestine, where he worked as a plasterer; he served in the Haganah paramilitary organization.


Chaim Topol's mother Imrela "Rel" Topol was a seamstress.


Chaim Topol's parents had been involved in the Betar Zionist youth movement in Warsaw before immigrating.


Chaim Topol's father had Hasidic roots, with a mother coming from a family of Gerrer Hasidim and a father from Aleksander Hasidim.


Chaim Topol graduated from high school at age 17 and moved to Kibbutz Geva.


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, Chaim Topol was called up for reserve duty in the Sinai Campaign.


Chaim 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.


Chaim Topol both sang and acted with the group, doing both "loudly".


On March 8,2023, Chaim Topol's family notified the press that he was near death and "living his final hours", and asked the public to respect the family's privacy.


Between 1960 and 1964, Chaim Topol performed with the Batzal Yarok satirical theatre company, which toured Israel.


In 1960, Chaim 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.


Chaim Topol, who was 29 during the filming, was familiar playing the role of the family patriarch, having performed skits from the play with his Nahal entertainment troupe during his army years.


Chaim Topol contributed his ideas to the part, playing the character as a more universal Mizrahi Jew instead of specifically a Yemenite, Iraqi, or Moroccan Jew, and asking Kishon to change the character's first name from Saadia to Sallah.


In 1966, Chaim Topol made his English-language film debut as Abou Ibn Kaqden in the Mickey Marcus biopic Cast a Giant Shadow.


Chaim Topol came to greatest prominence in his portrayal of Tevye the Dairyman on stage and screen.


Chaim Topol first played the lead role in the Israeli production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof in 1966, replacing Shmuel Rodensky for 10 weeks when Rodensky fell ill.


Not yet fluent in English, Chaim Topol memorized the score from listening to the original Broadway cast album and practiced the lyrics with a British native.


When Chaim Topol arrived at the audition, Prince was surprised that this 30-year-old man had played Shabati, a character in his sixties.


Chaim Topol spent six months in London learning his part phonetically with vocal coach Cicely Berry.


Jerome Robbins, director and choreographer of the 1964 Broadway show who came over to direct the London production, "re-directed" the character of Tevye for Chaim Topol and helped the actor deliver a less caricatured performance.


Chaim Topol was assigned to an army entertainment troupe on the Golan Heights.


Jewison flew to London in February 1968 to see Chaim Topol perform as Tevye during his last week with the London production, and chose him over Danny Kaye, Herschel Bernardi, Rod Steiger, Danny Thomas, Walter Matthau, Richard Burton, and Frank Sinatra, who had expressed interest in the part.


Chaim Topol was nominated for the 1971 Academy Award for Best Actor, losing to Gene Hackman in The French Connection.


In 1983 Chaim Topol reprised the role of Tevye in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof on the West End in London.


Chaim Topol again played Tevye in a 1994 London revival, which became a touring production.


In 2009, Chaim Topol began a farewell tour of Fiddler on the Roof as Tevye, opening in Wilmington, Delaware.


Chaim Topol was forced to withdraw from the tour in Boston owing to a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Theodore Bikel and Harvey Fierstein, both of whom had portrayed Tevye on Broadway.


Chaim Topol estimated that he performed the role more than 3,500 times.


In 1976, Chaim Topol played the lead role of the baker, Amiable, in the new musical The Baker's Wife, but was fired after eight months by producer David Merrick.


In 1988, Chaim Topol starred in the title role in Ziegfeld at the London Palladium.


Chaim Topol returned to the London stage in 2008 in the role of Honore, played by Maurice Chevalier in the 1958 film Gigi.


Chaim Topol appeared in more than 30 films in Israel and abroad.


Chaim Topol was said to be Israel's "only internationally-recognized entertainer" from the 1960s through to the 1980s.


In Israel, Chaim Topol acted in and produced dozens of films and television series.


Chaim Topol's albums include Topol With Roger Webb And Chaim Topol's Orchestra - Topol '68, Topol Sings Israeli Freedom Songs, War Songs By Topol, and Topol's Israel.


Chaim Topol appeared on the soundtrack album for the film production of Fiddler on the Roof and the London cast album.


Chaim Topol illustrated approximately 25 books in both Hebrew and English.


In 1967, Chaim Topol founded Variety Israel, an organization serving children with special needs.


Chaim Topol was a co-founder and chairman of the board of Jordan River Village, a vacation village for Arab and Jewish children with life-threatening illnesses, which opened in 2012.


Chaim Topol was a recipient of Israel's Kinor David award in arts and entertainment in 1964.


In 2015, Chaim Topol was honored by the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman and the Ukrainian Jewish Community.