Kishon was born in 1924 in Budapest, Hungary. He studied at the University of Art History and completed the Academy of Metal Sculpture. He succeeded in surviving the Holocaust by escaping from concentration camps in Hungary, Germany and Russia, and immigrated to Israel in 1949. Kishon studied Hebrew at the Etzion Ulpan (language school) in Jerusalem and achieved an amazing level of fluency in the language within only a few months.
Kishon’s first book, The Immigrant Who Entered Our Lives was published in 1951. In 1952 he commenced writing a column called Had Gadya in the newspaper Ma’ariv, which continued for 30 years. During his career Kishon wrote and published around 50 books which have been translated into 37 languages and that have earned him the status of the most widely read Hebrew language author in the world.
Kishon’s first play, His Good Name Precedes Him, was produced and ran at the Habimah National Theater in 1953, and is only one of 14 plays and musicals that he wrote. Several of his theatrical works such as The Written, Oh Oh Julia, Salach Shabati and Pull Out the Electric Plug were also directed by Kishon at the Israeli World Theater and continue to run in theaters around the world. In addition, his newer plays, The Trial of the Fathers of Joseph the Carpenter and Open for Renovation are successfully running in worldwide theaters.
Kishon’s films, Sallach Shabbati (1964), Aravinka (1967) Blaumilch Canal (1969) Azulai the Policeman (1971) and The Fox in the Chicken Coop (1978) have won numerous prestigious international awards including three “Golden Globus” awards and a double nomination for an “Academy Award”.
In the last few years several of Kishon’s books have been published as renewed additions and have been very successful. In honor of a decade since his death, stores received the volume A Kishon-like Book, that includes his central works that have become an inalienable assest of Israeli culture and literature.
During his life Kishon earned numerous titles including: Doctor of Philosophy from a number of universities in Israel and around the world. In 2001 he was among the nominees for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 2002 he received the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and was selected as Literary Man of the Year.
Ephraim Kishon died on January 29, 2005 and was buried in the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv.
Many generations of Israeli children continue to grow up on the wonderful works of Ephraim Kishon, which remain relevant and vital to this day – much as they were the day they were written. His work is a cultural asset of Israeli society and in the world that continue to amuse, touch and provide pleasure to millions of readers around the world.