(September 9, 1935– ; birth name: Chaim Topol): Charismatic Academy Award–nominated Israeli leading actor who portrayed Greek smuggler Milos Columbo in For Your Eyes Only. In a film that was a throwback to the earlier, more serious entries in the Bond series, Topol’s Columbo was a fascinating character—very much in the vein of Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) in From Russia with Love, and even earlier spy movie icons like Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Playing a big man who’s full of life and determined to destroy his enemy, Kristatos (Julian Glover), at all costs, Topol painted him with layers of likeability, down to his love for pistachio nuts.
Born in Tel Aviv, Topol made his motion picture debut as Mikha in director Peter Frye’s Israeli dramedy I Like Mike (1961). A decade later, he won his most iconic role: Tevye the Milkman in director Norman Jewison’s acclaimed Fiddler on the Roof (1971), for which he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar (losing to Gene Hackman in The French Connection).