Israeli Actress Rama Messinger Dies at 46

Yair Ashkenazi
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Rama Messinger at the Israeli theater awards in 2012.Credit: Moti Milrod
Yair Ashkenazi

Actress Rama Messinger died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 46.

Messenger studied at the Telma Yalin high school in Ramat Gan and did her military service in the Southern Command’s entertainment troupe. She subsequently studied at the Beit Zvi School of the Performing Arts. She started her theatrical career at Habima, where, among other plays, she appeared in Hanoch Levin’s “Hops and Hopla,” directed by Uri Fester, in Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters,” directed by Omri Nitzan, and in Peter Schaeffer’s “Amadeus,” directed by Michael Gurevitch.

She won the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Municipality prize for her role in “Servant of Two Masters” and received a citation for her part in “One needs an end to a love story,” which was produced by Teatronto in 1994.

Messinger subsequently performed with the Lessing Theater company in “Piaf” (in which she played singer Edith Piaf,) “Born Only Yesterday,” “Barefoot” and “Small Voice” ( a role for which she won the Israel Theater Prize,) as well as in “Taming the Shrew” at Haifa Theater.

She also appeared in many musicals, including “Irma La Douce” and “The Sound of Music” in its second Israeli version. At the Cameri Theater, she played Yente the matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

In 2013, Messinger released “Rama,” an album that included original songs she had written.

In addition to her theatrical activities, Messinger took part in many TV shows and moderated the program “Habima: the first act” on Educational TV, dealing with the founders of Israel’s national theater.

She is also remembered as a leading voice-over during the last 20 years, taking the part of Princess Yasmine in Walt Disney’s “Aladdin” and in the TV series “The Moomins.”

Director Uri Fester first met Messinger in auditions for the army troupe. “I accepted her into the Southern Command’s troupe, and it was already clear that she was a superstar,” he reminisces. “That’s why a month before finishing her studies at Beit Zvi she already joined rehearsals as the main character in ‘Hops and Hopla,’ which I directed.”

Actress Chani Nachmias appeared alongside Messinger in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Cameri Theater. “Rama was a soulmate over the last five years since we shared a backstage room,” she says. “I love her intensely. She was a friend who gave and connected, with a circle of friends around her, calling themselves ‘Rama’s gang.’ It was a close-knit group, some of whom took turns staying with her in her last month.”

Nachmias says that yesterday she arrived at the hospital with some of Messenger’s closest friends, such as actor Shmuel Vilozny, Sarit Vino-Elad, Dror Keren and Anat Waxman, in order to say farewell to their friend.

Messinger was the second Israeli actress to play Maria von Trapp in the musical “The Sound of Music,” a decade after Nachmias performed in the same role. “It was fascinating to see,” she remembers. “She’s a great singer and gave her own interpretation to the role. We both were lucky to share that gift.”

Messinger, who lived in moshav Bnei Atarot, is survived by her husband, the musician Arik Avigdor, who heads the sound department at Habima Theater, and three children. Her coffin will be placed on the stage at Habima from 12:00 PM today. She will be laid to rest at 15:00 in Bnei Atarot.

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