Chaim Topol as Tevye
Chaim Topol as TevyeFlash 90

Legendary actor Chaim Topol has been chosen as the Israel Prize's lifetime achievement winner, the Education Ministry announced on Monday. 

Topol, born in 1935 in Tel Aviv, began his entertainment career in the Israel Defense Forces' Nahal singing troupe, before establishing his own theater troupe in Tel Aviv. He was also one of the founders of Haifa Municipal Theatre in 1961. 

His role in director Ephraim Kishon's 1964 comedy, "Sallah Shabbati" thrust the Israeli actor into the international limelight.

Sallah Shabbati was the first Israeli film nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award and Topol won the now defunct Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his role as a Mizrahi immigrant to the Jewish state. 

In 1971, Topol took on the role he is most famous for - Tevye the milkman from the classic musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

He first played the character, created by famous Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem, on the West End stage in London and later in a screen adaptation directed by Norman Jewison. 

Topol won a Golden Globe Award in 1972 for his iconic performance as Tevya, and was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, as well. 

Responding to the news of the award on Monday, Topol told Haaretz that it was "as they say in English, better than a slap in the face."

His response was also mixed, however, with the actor noting, "I have been hearing for five years about people who I think really deserve to win this prize and they haven't been given it."

As to the future, Topol's next project is a film entitled, "The Last Mission," which will be shot in the United Kingdom in September.  "The movie tells the story of a Mossad man who goes on one last mission in England," Topol said.