Asaf “Assi” Dayan, an influential Israeli film director, actor, screenwriter and producer, died Thursday in his home in Tel Aviv. He was 68 years old.
Dayan, son of famed Israeli general and defense minister Moshe Dayan, was born in the northern moshav of Nahalal in 1945.
He began his acting career after completing his military service and a brief stint at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 1967, Dayan established himself as an Israeli movie star after a breakout role in the critically acclaimed film “He Walked Through the Fields.” He went on to play in dozens of movies both in Israel and abroad, among them “Beyond the Walls,” described as a major milestone in Israeli political cinema history, and the John Huston film “A Walk with Love and Death.”
Dayan’s role in the 1997 film “Mr. Baum” landed him an Ophir Award — the Israeli equivalent of an Academy Award — for best actor.
By 1973, Dayan began directing films as well. His works include the all-time Israeli favorite “Giv’at Halfon Eina Ona,” a comedy about a group of IDF reservists in the Sinai; and the 1992 film “Life According to Agfa,” which followed daily life in a Tel Aviv pub.
Dayan also played psychologist Reuven Dagan in the widely successful Israeli drama series “Betipul.” The show’s format was adopted by American TV station HBO, where it ran with the title “In Treatment.”
In 1998, Dayan received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.
But despite his iconic status in Israeli society, Dayan’s personal life was often the source of controversy. He was arrested several times for substance abuse and on one occasion he was detained for beating his girlfriend. In 2009, he received a suspended sentence and 200 hours of community work.
Dayan was married three times and had four children: Amalia, Avner, Lior and Assia.