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Israeli filmmaker Dayan dies at 68


Actor and director Assi Dayan has died

Actor and director Assi Dayan has died

Actor and director Assi Dayan has died

Actor and director Assi Dayan, an Israeli cultural icon known for both his trailblazing films and troubled personal life, has died in his Tel Aviv home.

No cause of death was given but 68-year-old Mr Dayan had suffered from several illnesses in recent years. Word of his death immediately became the top news item in Israel.

A scion to one of Israel's most prominent families, Mr Dayan was the youngest son of famed military chief and defence minister Moshe Dayan. His sister Yael was also a former politician.

"My baby is gone and this is not the age when you expect the anchor to fall," his 97-year-old mother Ruth said.

Despite his lineage, Mr Dayan was something of a counter-culture hero. He often lashed out at the state and confronted his father over his military views, marital infidelities and reputation for plundering antiquities' sites.

Mr Dayan acted in 50 films and TV shows and directed 16 movies. He played the lead role in the acclaimed TV drama Betipul, which was adapted into the HBO series In Treatment in the US, with Gabriel Byrne playing his role.

Mr Dayan won many awards for his filmmaking prowess. In 1998, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.

He was also a popular newspaper columnist who did not shy away from sharing confessions about his own demons.

Mr Dayan, who had four children from three marriages, had a tumultuous personal life. He was open about his bouts of drug and alcohol abuse and a series of attempted suicides.

"Today we lost one of our greatest artists, not just in film but in all culture," actress Gila Almagor told the YNet news site. "Assi was a guiding light, a multifaceted genius."