Gilles Ben-David

Gilles Ben-David with MOISHE OOFNIK.

Gilles Ben-David (b. October 25th, 1955), is an Israeli actor & Muppeteer who still performs MOISHE OOFNIK, Israels answer to OSCAR THE GROUCH, (as well as OSCARs 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 didnt even know what the show was about. So he tells me, 'listen, this is an audition for a puppet.' I didnt even know what a puppet was, I never held one in my hand. I said, 'I pay taxes, I deserve an audition.'[1] He auditioned w/ actor Nathan Dattner. Operating the GROUCH, he said, "Come on, Ill fix your pencil," & broke Dattners 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?' Youre working with human beings, thats it. Its teamwork.[2]"

Outside of OOFNIK, Ben-David's career as a performer has encompassed the Spitting Image-style political puppet series Hartzufim (puppeteering Israels 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 Pepes Choice, plus episodes of the Israeli TV prison drama Zinzana.


  1. Ynet. August 2006 interview/profile, in Hebrew.
  2. Greenberg, Joel. "A Peaceful Crew Puts Muppets Where Its Mouth Is." Tel Aviv Journal. June 17th, 1997

Muppeteer CreditsEdit

See alsoEdit

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