It wasn’t hard for the people of Hollywood to take notice of quite possibly, the most dashing Egyptian actor of all time. Omar Sharif, most famously known for playing his award-winning role in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ recently passed away after suffering a heart attack in Cairo.
The death of Omar Sharif came as a shock to his fellow actors, with big names such as Antonio Banderas and Barbara Streisand pouring their tributes. At the height of his acting career in the ‘60s and ‘70s, he was easily one of the most respected and loved leading men in the industry.
Destined for Greatness
Born Michel Chalhoub, Omar was the son of a well-to-do lumber business tycoon and an extremely charismatic socialite. His family resided in the upper-class area of Cairo and while he gave his fair amount of time and labor for the business, his heart was set on acting. He was fluent in both English and French, possessing a distinctly exotic accent that would soon take over Hollywood by storm.
It wasn’t long until his friend and director Youssef Chahine offered him a role in the film, Struggle in the Valley (1954). The female lead, FatenHamama, was instantly taken by the charm and looks of the budding actor and would later on become his wife and mother of his only child, Tarik.
And as they say, the rest was history. From being casted for his Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated role in ‘Lawrence’, he was casted again by the same director in Doctor Zhivago (1965). A few more roles came and went. Soon, Omar Sharif found himself feeling indifferent towards acting.
Only bad films since 1972, (1973). I’m thinking of really bad,” he recalled in an interview. “To learn bad dialogue is so difficult and so boring, and to work with a stupid director who tells you to do the wrong thing, et cetera, it’s just unbearable.”
He then looked towards a stronger passion: Card game bridge, in which he was an expert player and even wrote books and hosted a computer video game version.
Respected and Remembered
In 2006, he declared his complete desertion for gambling and considered himself semi-retired from films. Last year, he received a Unesco award for contributing a rich role to cultural diversity and world cinema.
Amidst his struggles and share of controversies, actor Omar Sharif remains as one of the most loved actors in Hollywood fondly remembered.
The late actor was buried in Cairo with his family, friends and undimmed fans.