Israel’s Education Ministry announced Monday that it will award the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement to actor Chaim Topol.
Topol, now 79, is best known for his groundbreaking and long-running role as Tevye the milkman in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
After the play was staged in London’s West End, Topol starred in the 1971 film version, and won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar award.
He reprised the role of Tevye in 1983 in London, and in a Broadway revival in 1990, when he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance.
Topol also played the lead in the film “Galileo”, and as Dr. Hans Zarkov in “Flash Gordon” and as Milos Columbo in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”.
One of Topol’s earliest and best-known appearances was as the lead role in the 1964 film, “Sallah Shabati”, by Ephraim Kishon, about the hardships of a Mizrahi immigrant family in Israel in the early 1960s.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Topol won a Golden Globe award for new star of the year.
The Israel Prize committee called Topol one of the pillars of Israel’s cultural industry, an actor who brought attention to the fledgling country at the time, and helped develop the country’s entertainment industry.
Speaking to Army Radio on Monday, Topol expressed his gratitude for the award, and said he was “very moved.” He also said he was still receiving offers to reprise his “Fiddler” role.
“I just got invited” to the UK, and to Australia, he said. Asked whether he still had the energy for the role, he laughed and said he had been invited, but that didn’t mean he would accept.