Actor and musician Yossi Banai, one of Israel's greatest artists, died Thursday at the age of 74 following a serious illness. He was survived by his wife and three sons.
Banai's funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Friday at Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha.
"The State of Israel today lost one of its culture legends, an Israel Prize laureate, and a man of Jerusalem," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. "Yossi Banai was an example of multidisciplinary talent in stage-managing, playwriting, satire, cinema and singing."
"Yossi's unique voice was a key part in the story of the renewed Jewish state in the Land of Israel and in Jerusalem," Olmert added.
President Moshe Katsav and his wife Gila expressed their sorrow over Banai's death: "Banai was a multidisciplinary artistic personality who left his mark on the theatre, cinema and singing stage. His performances were an experience for any Israeli."
Young Yossi Banai (Photo: Saar Yaacov, GPO)
Banai was born in 1932. In the mid 1950s, he joined the Habima Theater, where he worked most of his life. In the mid 1960s he was already well known as a talented actor, a satirist and an entertainer.
Throughout his life, Banai participated in dozens of plays, entertainment shows and movies, and particularly stood out as a gifted writer – for himself and others. He also developed a signing and writing career, releasing a number of albums and publishing several books.
In 1998, he won the Israel Prize for theatre.
Or Barnea, Merav Yudilovitch and Keren Natanzon contributed to the report