New York, Oct 27 (DPA) Joseph Stein, the playwright who immortalised Jewish shtetl life in early 20th-century Russia in the classic Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof", has died at age 98, the New York Daily News reported.
Stein died Sunday at his New York home after fracturing his skull in a fall. He won a Tony for his seminal work and later wrote the screenplay for its successful movie adaptation.
Based on a series of short stories by revered Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem about a humble Jewish milkman and the challenges facing him and his family in 1905 Russia, the musical won nine Tony awards in 1965 and went on to become Broadway's then-longest running musical.
Stein was born in 1912 in the Bronx to immigrant parents and was a social worker before a meeting with comedian Zero Mostel catapulted him into a writing job. He made his Broadway writing debut in 1948 and later became part of the writing staff of Sid Caesar's classic 1950s comedy-variety series "Your Show of Shows".
Stein also wrote the book, or story for other successful broadway shows including "Zorba", about a philosophical Greek fisherman, which he claimed affected him more deeply than his seminal work on "Fiddler on the Roof".
"I do believe in the philosophy of 'Zorba'," Stein told the Hartford Courant in 2007, "that life is what you do until the day that you die, so you better make use of all of it so you're proud of what you're doing."