(CNN) Chaim Topol, the actor best known for playing Tevye in it “Fiddler on the Roof” He died in Israel after a “prolonged illness,” his representative confirmed to CNN on Thursday. He was 87 years old.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Topol on Thursday, conveying his condolences, calling him “a multi-faceted artist of great charisma and energy.”
“The story of Haim Topol’s life has been closed, but I am sure that his contribution to Israeli culture will last for generations,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “He loved the Land of Israel very much, and the people of Israel loved him in return.”
Born September 9, 1935, in Tel Aviv, Topol was known by his nickname throughout his career.
He started his career as an actor after being assigned to the entertainment troupe while doing military service in Israel. During the service he also met his future wife, Galya Topol.
His acting has seen him win several international film awards, including two golden ballsPromising Newcomer in 1965 for playing the role of “Salah Shabati” and Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1972.
I have been too OscarNominated for his performance of Tevye the Milkman in 1971.
Other notable roles include Dr. Hans Zarkov in “Flash Gordon” (1980) and Milos Colombo alongside Roger Moore as James Bond in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).
Although Topol is known for his famous role in a musical, the music was “organised noise” for the actor and singer, who said he could not play an instrument or read music.
“I was really denied music until the age of 12. We didn’t have a radio at home,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 1983.
Before entering the big screen as Teffi, Topol said he temporarily filled the role on stage in Tel Aviv, and was later asked to play the role in London’s West End.
He added, “They were very brave to let me have that part… considering my English was very limited”, with a “vocabulary of 50 words”. “I still don’t understand how they let me in the part.”
Eight years ago, Netanyahu gave Topol the Israel Prize, considered the country’s most prestigious and highest honor in culture.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also issued a statement on Twitter Thursday, paying tribute to the late actor.
“From the violinist on the roof to the roof of the world, Chaim Topol, who passed away on our behalf, was one of the most outstanding Israeli stage artists, a talented actor who conquered many theaters in Israel and abroad, filled cinema screens with his presence and above all entered the depths of our hearts.”
According to Herzog and Netanyahu, Topol was also involved in charity work with sick and disabled children.
“Tobol was one of the giants of Israeli culture and will be sorely missed,” Herzog wrote on Twitter.
Topol is survived by his wife and their three children.
CNN’s Richard Allen Green contributed to this report.
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