Haya Harareet

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Haya Harareet
חיה הררית
Haya Harareet - 1960.jpg
Harareet in 1960
Haya Neuberg
(Hebrew: חיה נויברג‎)

(1931-09-20) 20 September 1931 (age 88)
Other namesHaya Hararit
Haya Harareet-Clayton
Years active1955–1974
Spouse(s)Nachman Zerwanitzer
Jack Clayton (1984–1995) (his death)

Haya Harareet (Hebrew: חיה הררית‎; born Haya Neuberg; 20 September 1931) is an Israeli actress, perhaps best known for playing Esther, Charlton Heston's love interest in Ben Hur (1959).[1]

Early life[edit]

The first of three children, Harareet was born in Haifa, in what was then Mandatory Palestine (now Israel).[2] Her parents, Reuben and Yocheved Neuberg, emigrated to Israel from Poland when they were young.[2] Her father worked for the government in Tel Aviv.[2] She received the surname Hararit (later changed to Harareet), which means "mountainous" in Hebrew, at school.[3]


Preparing for a play in Israel, 1954
In the trailer for Ben-Hur (1959)
In a press conference for Ben-Hur in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1960

She began her career in Israeli films with Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (1955), which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. She played opposite Virna Lisi in Francesco Maselli's The Doll that Took the Town (1957), an Italian film. Her major role as Esther in Ben-Hur (1959) remains her most widely seen performance in international cinema. Variety, in its review of Ben-Hur, praised Harareet's performance:

Haya Harareet, an Israeli actress making her first appearance in an American film, emerges as a performer of stature. Her portrayal of Esther, the former slave and daughter of Simonides, steward of the House of Hur, is sensitive and revealing. Wyler presumably deserves considerable credit for taking a chance on an unknown. She has a striking appearance and represents a welcome departure from the standard Hollywood ingenue.[4]

Then came 1961's L'Atlantide [fr] (Journey Beneath The Desert, aka The Lost Kingdom), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and co-starring Jean-Louis Trintignant. She appeared opposite Stewart Granger in Basil Dearden's film The Secret Partner (1961), and she played the role of Dr. Madolyn Bruckner in The Interns (1962).

She co-wrote the screenplay for Our Mother's House (1967) from the novel of the same name by Julian Gloag.

Personal life[edit]

Harareet's first husband was Nachman Zerwanitzer, an Israeli irrigation engineer.[5] They lived in an apartment in Tel Aviv and were divorced sometime before 1961.[6]

Harareet's second husband was the British film director Jack Clayton. They were married in Wycombe District, Buckinghamshire, England, in 1984.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1955 Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (Giv'a 24 Eina Ona) Miriam Miszrahi Israeli film
1957 The Doll That Took the Town (La donna del giorno) Anna Grimaldi First Italian film
1959 Ben-Hur Esther First American film
1961 The Secret Partner Nicole "Nikki" Brent British film
1961 Journey Beneath the Desert (Antinea, l'amante della città sepolta) Queen Antinea Italian-French co-production
1962 The Interns Dr. Madolyn Bruckner Second and final American film
1962 The Last Charge (La leggenda di Fra Diavolo) Fiamma Italian film
1964 L'ultima carica Claudia Italian film
1974 My Friend Jonathan Second and final British film


  1. ^ Burton, Alan; O'Sullivan, Tim (2009). The cinema of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-0-7486-3289-3.
  2. ^ a b c Mayfair, Martha (3 February 1960). "Ben-Hur's Beauty Advocates Simple Grooming". The Evening Independent. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Haya Harareet". Coronet. 47 (3). 1960. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Review: 'Ben-Hur'". Variety. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Overnight to Stardom". Independent Press-Telegram. 15 November 1959. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Israeli Movie Star May Quit Hollywood and Return 'Home'". The National Jewish Post and Opinion. 10 March 1961. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Haya Harareet mentioned in the record of Clayton and Haya Harareet". FamilySearch. Retrieved 9 June 2016.

External links[edit]