"Fiddler on the Roof" Star Also Had Secret Life as a Spy, Family Claims
Chaim Topol served as a spy for the Mossad while still working as an actor.
He's remembered best for his role in the 1971 movie version of Fiddler on the Roof, but Chaim Topol's family just revealed that he had a top-secret job in addition to acting. In a new interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Topol's wife and children claim that he was secretly a spy for the Mossad—also know as The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations—which is the national intelligence agency for Israel.
The interview comes a month after Topol's death in March at age 87. The actor's relatives said that they were unsure what they would find when going through his belongings, given that they long believed him to be a spy. Read on to find out what they were able to confirm.
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Topol was an acclaimed actor.
Chaim Topol—who was known just as Topol—began his film career in Israel in the 1960s. He received acclaim in the United States beginning with his role in the 1964 movie Sallah Shabati for which he won a Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer.
In 1971, Topol starred in the film adaptation of the Fiddler on the Roof. He had already starred in the stage musical in London's West End. For the movie role, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He went on to receive a Tony nomination for Leading Actor in a Musical in 1991 when he played the role on Broadway.
His family members believe he was a spy.
In the interview with Haaretz (via The Independent), Topol's family said that he was involved in "secret missions" for the Mossad.
"I don't know exactly what the appropriate definition is for the missions and duties he performed," said Topol's son Omer. "But what is clear is that Dad was involved in secret missions on behalf of the Mossad."
Topol's widow, Galia, said that her late husband "was a kind of cover" for operations involving secret agent and Mossad officer Peter Zvi Malkin, who died in 2005.
Topol's daughter, Adi, said that Malkin would "come to London and live with [the family] when he needed to" and that Topol would "help Zvika with all kinds of things he wanted to check—such as an access point, recording programs, and security arrangements."
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His daughter was wary about looking through his belongings.
Adi told Haaretz that she was concerned about looking through her father's possessions after his death. "Who knows what I'll find there?" Adi said. "Maybe secret listening devices and hidden cameras."
The family also told the publication that they noticed Topol would take a small camera and a recording device on trips.
As reported by Deadline, they additionally claimed that they witnessed him bugging an unnamed Arab country's embassy and claiming that he was a dental patient to provide an excuse for a drilling noise.
They said he was well-suited to be a spy.
Galia told Haaretz that Topol had the traits necessary to work in secret for the Mossad.
"What always motivated Chaimkeh [Topol] were ants in his pants, adventure and courage. Therefore, no one was more suitable than him to be involved even in issues that are not discussed," she said.
Omer explained of his father (via Deadline), "His status in those years was that of an international star, and he could go anywhere he wanted. He had the ability to deliver documents and take pictures without anyone questioning anything. But he was no James Bond or anything like that!"