Dudu Topaz, one of Israel’s icon television and theater entertainers, is a guy who just can’t stay out of the public limelight. But age and poor ratings apparently began catching up with the man who once had some of the most highly successful programs on TV. His catastrophic fall from grace reached a climax yesterday, when he was arrested and indicted for his alleged role in a conspiracy to attack and intimidate some top management officials in the Reshet and Keshet Israeli television network companies, including Shiri Margalit, Deputy Director General of Reshet, and daughter of Channel 1 TV icon Dan Margalit.
Topaz was remanded into custody at Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir lockup on charges that he masterminded a group of thugs who were sent out to beat up and destroy the property of Margalit, Avi Nir, Director General of the Keshet network; and even Topaz’s own agent, Boaz Ben Zion. Things must have gotten pretty bad for Dudu is he put out an intimidation contract on his own agent, but this is apparently what happened, according to police sources, who now say that Topaz was at “the top of the pyramid” of the gang, and that he spend “thousands of shekels” of his own money to try to get even with people in his industry who had probably had enough of his actions.
Topaz, actually David Goldenberg, had reached the point where he wasn’t given any offers to host new TV programs, due to his poor ratings in previous ones. The three mentioned people who had been attacked by men who are now said to have been Topaz’s security guards, were attacked over a period of nearly two years. Ms. Msraglit, the apparent last victim of Dudu and the gang, was injured in the assault and had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Topaz is said to suffer from medical problems, including a form of diabetes, which could be partially responsible for his irrational behavior, sources say. When “interviewed” recently in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, Topaz almost had the appearance of a homeless person and told a Channel 10 interviewer that “if any of you (TV and the public) think I’m capable of doing such things, it’s very sad”.
People who know Topaz personally, including his brother Miki and long time friend and fellow icon Manny Peer, said Topaz is “a man who loves people” and will do anything to help those in distressed. But often his remarks and gestures got him intro trouble, including incidents such as the time he called right winged Likud party members “cha chacktim” (low persons w/o education) and when he fondled a visiting Argentine actress during an appearance on a TV show. Not being considered for recent variety programs (for which Dudu was once a master of) must have been too much for him, as he is that kind of individual who simply has to be in the limelight all the time. And when his own agent quit working for him, that must have been the last straw. His most recent girlfriend, Dr. Rita Rodriguez Barer (herself a psychiatrist and possibly a former physician treating Topaz) said she cannot believe he would do such a thing.
When arrested, reporters tried to interview Topaz when he was being shuttled from room to room by his police guards. When asked if he had any comments regarding his arrest, his answer was “All I have to say, I’ll say to the police”.
Yossi Sibi, a close friend of Topaz, said that his “colorful lifestyle” often got him into trouble. For all of us who remember Dudu in better times, his long fall from grace is a very sad event and something that Hollywood movies often pick up on.
Topaz, who police said was trying to leave the country, will be remanded for 8 days while the investigation continues.