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Shaike Ophir
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Shaike Ophir

Shaike Ophir was an Israeli film actor and comedian, and the country's first mime. Yishayahu (Shaike) Goldstein-Ophir was born in Jerusalem. His family roots in the city go back to the mid-19th century. He studied acting as an adolescent, but left school in the 1940s to join the Palmach. During Israel's War of Independence he escorted convoys to the besieged city of Jerusalem, and took part in naval battles.


Thanks to his comic skills he was accepted to the Chezbatron, an army entertainment troupe. In the 1950s, he made a name for himself as a multi-talented performer.


During the late 1950s and early 1960s Ophir occasionally guest-starred in American TV shows such as Shirley Temple's Storybook and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Ophir acted in 28 films, wrote, directed and starred in several variety shows and was an accomplished mime, appearing alongside Marcel Marceau. He reached the peak of his international fame in the title role of The Policeman (Ha-Shoter Azoulay), a film-vehicle by Ephraim Kishon which won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film (1972) and was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Academy Award the same year. He also starred in other Ephraim Kishon films, including Ervinka, Blaumilch Canal and The Fox in the Chicken Coop.


In 1985, Ophir starred in a stage adaptation of Janusz Korczak's children's novel King Matt the First, where he played seven different roles. The children's play was very successful and ran for three years. Over this period Ophir was diagnosed with lung cancer, to which he succumbed in 1987. Ophir was a theatrical director for HaGashash HaHiver. He also directed the Israeli movie Hamesh Ma'ot Elef Shahor, and wrote the screenplay for 4 Israeli movies. He wrote and performed many sketches and comedy routines, many of which are still popular in Israel today. He also did a series of Arabic-instruction TV programs that ran through the 1980s.


He also appeared in the Chuck Norris film, The Delta Force.


Ophir was married twice and had two children, one from each spouse. His daughter, Karin Ophir, is also an actress. The Israeli Film Academy award is named the "Ophir Award" in his honor.