Israel prize winner, writer Nissim Aloni dies at 73

JERUSALEM — Playwright Nissim Aloni died Saturday afternoon at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital. He was 73.

"In his theatrical and original written works, Aloni combined light and color, drama and comedy, song and laughter, and the wit of the stereotypical Israeli. His plays, his sketches and his songs are an inseparable part of Israeli life," said Yitzhak Levy, education and culture minister

Aloni won an Israel Prize in 1996 for his contributions to Israeli theater. His plays include "Most Cruel the King," "The Bride and the Butterfly Hunter," "Edi King" and "The American Princess."

Aloni was known for his sharp ear for the dialect and manners of various ethnic groups in Israel's mainly immigrant society — a sensitivity that showed in his works.

Aloni, who had been ill for the past three years, was hospitalized after suffering a stroke 10 days ago.

The Israel Festival tribute to Aloni went ahead as planned Saturday night at the Jerusalem Theater. The show included scenes from his plays, sketches and songs, as well as from those he translated over the years. The actors found out about his death during a final rehearsal Saturday night.