Gilles Ben-David (b. October 25th, 1955), is an Israeli actor & Muppeteer who still performs MOISHE OOFNIK, Israel’s answer to OSCAR THE GROUCH, (as well as OSCAR’s cousin). Fluent in English & French, as well as Hebrew, Ben-David 1st played the role on Rechov Sumsum in 1982. He reprised the part on Shalom SESAME, SESAME STREET Stays Up Late, the 1997 Rechov Sumsum — Shara' a Simsim co-production with Palestine, live appearances, & most recently, the 2006 revival of Rechov Sumsum. He also performed Noah on Sippuray Sumsum & trained Muppeteers for the new season of Rechov Sumsum.
As Ben-David recalled in an interview, "Like all good things in life, I got the part of MOISHE OOFNIK by accident." He was just out of acting school, & a friend was working as a production assistant on Rechov Sumsum. Ben-David asked if an audition could be arranged:
"Just to know what an audition is like. I didn’t even know what the show was about. So he tells me, 'listen, this is an audition for a puppet.' I didn’t even know what a puppet was, I never held one in my hand. I said, 'I pay taxes, I deserve an audition.' He auditioned w/ actor Nathan Dattner. Operating the GROUCH, he said, "Come on, I’ll fix your pencil," & broke Dattner’s prop w/out hesitation. He won the part.
The puppeteer also spoke positively of the brief attempt at collaboration with Palestinian performers & crew: "Talk about cooperation. Take for example 5 people jammed among wires & monitors, sweating together, & someone says, 'Could you move your leg so I can see the monitor?' You’re working with human beings, that’s it. It’s teamwork."
Outside of OOFNIK, Ben-David's career as a performer has encompassed the Spitting Image-style political puppet series Hartzufim (puppeteering Israel’s Foreign Minister David Levy & other figures), aswell as stage acting, & reciting Jules Verne in French & Hebrew at the Institut Francais 2005 Science & Imagination conference. On camera, he has appeared in various live-action films, in either English or Hebrew, including the thrillers The Human Shield & The Ambassador & the short film Pepe’s Choice, plus episodes of the Israeli TV prison drama Zinzana.
- ↑ Ynet. August 2006 interview/profile, in Hebrew.
- ↑ Greenberg, Joel. "A Peaceful Crew Puts Muppets Where Its Mouth Is." Tel Aviv Journal. June 17th, 1997
- Muppet Performers
- Muppet Puppeteers
- Muppet Voice Actors
- International SESAME STREET Performers
- Gilles Ben-David on the Muppet Wiki
- Gilles Ben-David on the Puppet Wiki
- Gilles Ben-David on the OSCAR THE GROUCH Wiki
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