One of Israel’s most famous television entertainers, Dudu Topaz, has committed suicide in prison, where he was awaiting trial for allegedly plotting attacks on TV executives whom he blamed for his fall from stardom.
Unable to cope with his fading popularity, the one-time “ratings king” of Israeli TV, was charged with hiring thugs to rough up the network bosses whom he accused of ditching him in favor of reality television shows.
Prison officials said that Topaz, 62, was found hanging from the shower of his cell. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for an hour before he was pronounced dead.
It was a bitter end for one of the country’s most iconic entertainers, a charismatic but erratic star who fell from favor with the public whose attention he craved, and who became consumed with bitterness and obsessed with revenge.
Earlier this year his story dominated Israeli news but his sudden return to the spotlight was not what Topaz, once a household name as a variety performer and host, had expected. His new role was as a suspected criminal charged with ordering an attack on a female vice president of Israel's Channel 2 TV, who was beaten outside her home in Tel Aviv and hospitalized with a broken nose and fractures to her face.
Another Channel 2 executive and an actor's agent had also been attacked in the past year, apparently by Topaz’s hired goons. Despite initial protestations of his innocence, investigators said that Topaz had confessed to ordering the assault. At the time of his death, he was facing charges of assault and battery, conspiracy to commit a crime, extortion and obstruction of justice. He was being held in a unit for prisoners at risk of harming themselves when he hanged himself with an electric flex from a kettle.