Revealed: Chaim Topol’s secret life as a Mossad agent

A month after the death of the Israeli actor known for playing Tevye, his family exposed his unknown role: hair-raising missions for the Mossad.

Adi Topol is apprehensive about opening the boxes in her father’s London apartment. She even wonders if it might be better to get rid of the tables and old furniture. “Who knows what I’ll find there?” she says. “Maybe secret listening devices and hidden cameras.”

Last week marked the 30th day since the death of Chaim Topol, one of Israel’s greatest actors. His wife, Galia, and their three children are probing their memories – mainly for their own sake – trying to recall what they know about his secret side. They don’t know much, but what they do know doesn’t leave much room for doubt.

“I’m not sure what the exact definition is for the missions and roles he undertook,” says Omer, his son, who’s 61. “But what’s clear is that Dad was involved in secret missions for the Mossad.”

Galia, Adi and Omer talk about mysterious trips abroad, a miniature Minox camera and a tiny tape recorder, which in the 1960s and ‘70s were considered the height of technological sophistication. “He took the camera and the recording equipment on every trip.

They vividly remember his liaison for the secret missions: a good friend, Zvi Malkin, from the Mossad. “Zvika always showed up in disguise, came through the backyard so he wouldn’t be seen, and then came into our apartment,” Adi recalls. “‘You don’t have a key, so how did you get in?’ I asked him once, and he replied in his nasal tone: ‘You call that a lock?’”

Galia adds: “What always drove Chaimke was an itch for adventure, combined with courage. Nobody was better for things that weren’t talked about.”

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Revealed: Chaim Topol’s secret life as a Mossad agent (Haaretz)