The actor Philip “Fyvush” Finkel passed away on Saturday (August 14) in Manhattan at the age of 93. He was born at home in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York to Jewish immigrant parents from Minsk, Belarus and Warsaw. The name “Fyvush” was later adopted as a stage name.
He made his Broadway theater debut in the original 1964 production of Fiddler, and later played Lazar Wolf, the Butcher, in the limited run of the 1981 Broadway revival of the same musical. Eventually he played the lead role of Tevye the Milkman for years in the national touring company.
The Emmy Award winner had spent nearly his entire life entertaining others, having started on the stage at age nine.
He was best known for his roles in Boston Public and Picket Fences, but those who flocked to the theater in 1964 might remember him in Fiddler on the Roof, when he played Mordcha, the Innkeeper.
At the age of 75, Finkel was awarded a star with his name on it on the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame outside the Second Avenue Deli in Manhattan.
On the silver screen, Finkel appeared in Brighton Beach Memoirs, For Love or Money and Nixon. He also appeared in a remake of Fantasy Island on television.
Finkel’s wife Trudi Lieberman passed away in 2008 after 61 years of marriage. The actor is survived by two sons: Ian, a music arranger and xylophone virtuoso, and Elliot, a concert pianist.
Baruch Dayan HoEmes.