Fiddler on the Roof

TCM was showing this fine film last night, and I finally was able to share it with my daughter. It’s such a treat to share the classics with her…she recently saw Mary Poppins for the first time, and that was a hoot.

Fiddler is one of the few musicals Ivylad enjoys, and my daughter got a kick out of Tevye’s dream (to get Tzeitl out of the marriage to LazarWolf).

I imdb’d some of the actors…Leonard Frey, who played the tailor Motel, died of AIDS in 1988 :frowning: , Molly Picon, who played Yente, died at the ripe old age of 93 of Alzheimer’s (she had quite the career, both before and after Fiddler) and Louis Zorich, who played the Constable and is probably best known as Burt Buchman, Paul’s father, in Mad About You, has been married to Olympia Dukakis for more than 40 years.

And, although I don’t watch the show any more, Michele Marsh (Hodel) plays a role on* Desperate Housewives*!

Last but not least, Topol has made the role of Tevye his own, both in film and on the stage. Has anyone seen him perform it on stage? I bet that’s an experience!

A classic film…and I’m so glad my daughter was able to finally see it from beginning to end. It’s like watching it for the first time, when you can share it with someone who’s never seen it before.


If I had known I would have watched it with mrs. Rhymer & my stepdaughter, who’ve never seenit before either.

Something I found out less than a year ago is that Molly Picon died right here in Lancaster, PA. Apparently her sister lives in the area and she spent her last few years with her.

My brother asked me to recommend a musical to him, and I picked Fiddler. I think it’s brilliant and the songs are like taffy.

I agree, it’s a great movie. I always break up a bit during the wedding scene. When the Russians come in, that just really gets to me.

Zero Mostel held a grudge about not being cast in the film for the role he created on stage. When Fiddler’s director Norman Jewison (not Jewish, by the way!) wanted to cast Zero’s son Josh Mostel in Jesus Christ Superstar, Zero said, “Tell him to get Topol’s son!”

yes it is.
Topol doesn’t play the role of Tevye … he is Tevye.

Josh Mostel did play King Herod in the film version of JCS. I think Zero Mostel is too much of a professional for such behavior. Do you have a cite for that story?

Frankly, if Mostel didn’t hold a grudge against Elia Kazan or Jerome Robbins, given how much more destructive of his and others’ careers they were, he wouldn’t bother to hold a grudge against Jewison.

I don’t think ‘professional’ has anything to do with it – it’s a funny line, and considering Zero was indeed tightly connected to the Tevye role, not a surprising sentiment. It’s a fairly well-known bit in the theater, but it could be a shaggy dog story, who knows. From a Backstage article about Jim Brochu, who wrote a biographical show about Zero Mostel:

I’ve heard it that Zero told this to Josh when the latter told him he was being cast as Herod: “You should’ve told him to get Topol’s son.”

For the record, I vastly prefer Topol’s interpretation of Tevye to Mostel’s. Heresy though it may seem! I think Topol is absolutely brilliant, sympathetic, funny, tragic, and above all adds a dignity to a role that can easily be played cartoonish.

I do know that.

That isn’t the only story I’ve heard of Zero holding a grudge.

Update: Thanks for the citation, choie. (But a “shaggy dog” story is one that is long and ultimately pointless. Maybe you mean “apocryphal”.)

I saw Zero do it live. He was Tevye.

Okay, I can accept that Topol said it as a joke. BTW, Barry Dennen first introduced Jewison to JSC. Dennen played Pilate on the original album, and the rabbi’s son in the movie of Fiddler.

I was thinking about this show yesterday, because I was thinking about Chagall, whose art gave the show its title.

I saw a touring company led by Mostel perform FOTR when I was pretty young. I remember enjoying the performance.

An earlier thread that may be of interest:

I must admit, I was a bit at a loss at explaining to my daughter why the Jews had to leave Anatevka. I’m not that up on Russian/Jewish history, and she doesn’t really have a context of discrimination (thank Og.) The thought of being bigoted against someone because of race or religion or sexual orientation is alien to her.

You know what’s really sad?

The first thing that occurred to me upon reading that was “Give it time. She’ll learn.”

I remember the first time my baby sister got called a nigger. It was such a horrible shock for her that people actually held such opinions in the real world.

Which of course has bupkis to do with anything.

A lot of high schools do this musical. I’ve seen it in schools four different places. My own high school did it the year I was a junior, and then again about twenty years later. Lots of parts for men and women helps.

And in high schools they cast on ability(hopefully) not race or ethnic background. I saw a black Golde in one show(she was brilliant). a black Motel in one cast, and a black Constable in another. The only time I ever blinked at a high school casting was when Tevye was played by a young man with blond hair.

I’ve seen Chaim Topol in other roles, but he always seems like Tevye to me. Except when he played Dr. Zarkov in Flash Gordon. Topol was to play Tevye in Detroit, at the Fox Theater, in 1989, and I planned on seeing him. Then I got a job back home here and had to leave before.:frowning:

I’ve heard a cast recording with Mostel as Tevye, and to tell the truth I preferred the sound of Topol.

You all know that when he made Fiddler, Topol didn’t speak a word of English and had to learn his lines phonetically?

Oh, I think she knows there’s racism in the world. But I don’t think she understands why someone would hate someone else on that basis. It’s like trying to get me to understand why people are fans of Michael Jackson…not ever gonna get it.