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Israel Prize laureate Hanna Maron, one of Israel’s most prominent actresses, was laid to rest on Sunday. She passed away in Tel Aviv on Friday night at the age of 90.
The actress and survivor of a 1970 terrorist attack at the Munich airport was long upheld as one the country’s first ladies of theater, and in 2011 was acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the actress with the longest theater career in history.
Actress Liora Rivlin, who co-starred with Maron in the hit 1980’s Israeli sitcom “Krovim, Krovim”, visited the veteran star a week before she passed away. “She told me: ‘I know I’m 90 and I can’t go on forever, but suddenly I’m scared.'” Rivlin told Ynet magazine. “It was a moment of clarity that I won’t forget. She didn’t want to die, she was a strong woman who loved life.”
Born in Berlin to Polish and Hungarian parents, Maron started her stage career at the age of 4, and in 1931 made her cinematic debut in Austrian filmmaker Fritz Lang’s classic thriller “M”.
Following the rise of the Nazi regime in 1933, her family immigrated to Mandate Palestine, where in 1940 she joined HaBimah (Israel’s national theater). During World War II she toured the country as part of the Jewish Brigade’s entertainment troupe, led by the Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British army.
In 1945 Maron joined The Cameri Theatre, where as a member of the repertory committee she helped shape the company’s repertoire, including new works by Israeli dramatists.
In 1970, on her way to London via Munich to audition for a part in the West End production of “Fiddler on the Roof” opposite fellow Israeli actor Chaim Topol, Maron’s El Al flight was hijacked by terrorists and she sustained serious injuries that forced her to have her leg amputated.
After a hiatus, she returned to the stage and in the years to come became a vocal peace activist. In 1973 she was awarded the annual Israel Prize, regarded as the state’s highest honor.
Maron went on to star in numerous theatrical adaptations, including Carlo Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters”, Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”, multiple Shakespearean plays and the musical “Hello, Dolly”. In 2011, Guinness World Records spokeswoman Anne-Lise Rouse announced that Maron’s 83 years on stage qualifies her as having the longest career in theater, to which the actress responded by saying she “finds it very amusing.”
“Fate has put me in wars and terrorist attacks, peace ceremonies and historical events, ” Maron said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth a year ago. “The theater has been a part of my life since I was four years old. But the children I gave birth to and the happy family life I had with my late husband, Yaakov Rechter, are the most important events in my life.”
Widowed since 2001, Maron was married three times and is survived by three children.