Actor Chaim Topol, better known simply by his last name, passed away today. Topol was widely known for two iconic roles: Dr. Hans Zarkov in Mike Hodges’s Flash Gordon feature film and as the pious Tevye in the big screen adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.
According to Variety, Topol had been battling Alzheimer’s disease. At 87, the beloved actor passed into the great beyond while staying in Tel Aviv. Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, validated the sad news. In a kind statement, Herzog said the late actor was a gifted man “who conquered many stages in Israel and overseas, filled the cinema screens with his presence and especially entered deep into our hearts.”
Like many kids of the 1980s, I was first introduced to Topol via his performance as the slightly unhinged Dr. Zarkov. In a cast full of people with prominent personalities, Topol was right up there with Brian Blessed, commanding your attention whenever on screen.
Years before Flash Gordon, Topol starred in thousands of Fiddler On The Roof stage performances, along with its 1971 screen adaptation. He played the loving but strictly religious father named Tevye, someone so different from Zarkov. In fact, Topol’s turn as Tevye may be considered the gold standard for anyone who takes on the role, as I’ve seen quite a few actors try to imitate his performance over the years.
The late actor also spent some time opposite Roger Moore in the 007 James Bond universe. A year after Flash Gordon was released, Topol appeared in For Your Eyes Only as reformed smuggler Milos Columbo. As expected, Columbo is just as charismatic as Topol’s other characters. Sadly, this was a one-off role, and the character never returned to the series.
When did you first see Topol in action? Was it in Flash Gordon like many of us? Let us know in the comments section below.[Source: Variety]
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