Yehuda Barkan, actor and director, dies from coronavirus at 75

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin expressed their condolences.

Yehuda Barkan and Amichai Fishman as the king and the ‘Turkey Prince.’ (photo credit: JENNY KLINCOVSTEIN)
Yehuda Barkan and Amichai Fishman as the king and the ‘Turkey Prince.’
(photo credit: JENNY KLINCOVSTEIN)
Yehuda Barkan, one of Israel’s most beloved movie actors, died Friday after contracting coronavirus.
Upon his arrival to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, he was placed in an intensive care unit, where he succumbed to the virus.
Barkan, who was also a director, producer and writer, was 75.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin expressed their condolences Saturday. Netanyahu said: "Yehuda really loved the people and the country and delighted entire generations of Israelis in Israel and around the world with his very special acting and film abilities and his stock of talents. He will be sorely missed by all of us.”
Rivlin said: “Yehuda Barkan, who left us yesterday, was a well of joy. A huge and colorful actor, who was also huge in spirit and had plenty of generosity for everyone.”
Barkan appeared in many of the most popular Israeli films of the 1970s and 80s, and often played comic, roguish roles.
In the 1975 comedy Hagiga ba’Snooker (Party at the Snooker), he played twins, one nerdy and religious, the other a hustler who ran a snooker bar.
He is probably best known for his starring role in the 1974 movie Charlie va’Hetzi (Charlie and a Half), where he played a street tough who bonds with a cute kid and tries to win the hand of a rich girl.
In the ’80s, he starred in the popular and sentimental Abba Ganuv (Stolen Father) trilogy, where he played a tour-boat operator who fights his wealthy ex-wife for custody of their young son.
After the success of these films, he experienced a difficult period when his films were less popular. He had financial problems and eventually went bankrupt. He also became religiously observant and for a few years did not make films.
In the past decade, he went through a career renaissance, as he won praise for playing the grandfather of a young boy with autism in the successful television series Yellow Peppers. It was remade in England by the BBC as The A Word, with Christopher Eccleston playing the role Barkan created.
In 2017, he played a rabbi in the series Kipat Barzel (Iron Dome) about ultra-Orthodox soldiers in the IDF.
Last year, he appeared in the crowd-pleasing film Love in Suspenders as a widower who falls in love with a widow.