A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, July 10, 2015

Remember Omar Sharif (1932-2015) had a Career Before "Lawrence"

Hamama and Sharif
Most of the brief obituaries I've seen in US media for Omar Sharif, who has died at age 83, understandably begin with 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, his breakout role in the West, and mention his starring role in another David Lean epic, Doctor Zhivago. (His first appearance in Lawrence is a great moment in cinematography), but let's not forget he was already a star in Egypt for nearly a decade before Lawrence.

Poster, Nahr al-Hubb (1960)
He became famous for not just his acting but for his romance and marriage to actress Faten Hamama, who died earlier this year. They separated in 1966 and divorced in 1974,  in part due to Sharif's long absences in Europe or Hollywood. Within Egypt, Hamama was originally at least the better-known member of the couple. In the film poster at right, she has first billing.

Sharif (born Michel Chalhoub in Alexandria), died in Cairo. In May, his son revealed that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The Newspaper al-Tahrir: "Farewell: Omar Sharif, 83 years from Alexandria to Hollywood to Helwan."


Anonymous said...

A great actor and person, will be missed dearly

David Mack said...

For me, studying Arabic in Cairo in 1965-1966, Faten Hamama was the paragon of an Egyptian beauty. What man could notice Omar Sharif on screen with her!