Elias died at 94 on Thursday. Hundreds attended his funeral and honored him with one last round of applause

Photo credit: Flash 90/Channel 2 News

Hundreds of colleagues, friends and fans attended the funeral of film legend Aryeh Elias Friday morning in Kfar Saba. An honoree of several lifetime awards, Elias, whose acting career spanned five decades, passed away Thursday at the age of 94.

At the beginning of the memorial ceremony, the crowd gave Elias one final round of applause as a tribute. Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger promised to memorialize him in a respectful way and added: “He had an extraordinary sense of humor. He always made people laugh and was a very wise man.”

“You loved the stage and it loved you back,” said his son Sinai. “You strived for direct contact with your audience, which is why as we say goodbye to you now, you are surrounded by people whose lives you touched, even without knowing it. Each one of them saves a special place in their hearts for you.”

Elias was born April 1 1921 in Iraqi Kurdistan and came to Israel in 1947. He joined the Palmach and later fought in the War of Independence. At first, no theater was willing to hire him as an actor due to his heavy Sephardic accent. It was only in the mid-1960s that he gained nation-wide popularity by appearing in the film HaYeled Me’ever LaRechov (The Boy Across The Street), which was his first lead cinematic role.

In 1971 he played a significant role in Ephraim Kishon’s Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated movie Ha-Shoter Azoulay (The Policeman), which starred Shaike Ophir. In 1976 he appeared on the children’s television show Shcunat Chaim. In 2003 he won an Ophir awards for Best Actor for his appearance in the movie James’ Journey to Jerusalem.

Actor Yehuda Barkan, who starred alongside Elias in many films, said: “Unlike many good actors, Aryeh was also an exceptionally wonderful and kind-hearted man.”