Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 11th 2015 Contents end of our wedding," he said. "I might have been
happier having stayed an Egyptian film star."
Yousra, Egypt s biggest actress for much of the
past 30 years and a close friend of Sharif, compared
Sharif to a "clean-cut" diamond.
"He was a phenomena---a one of a kind. Everyone
had a dream to be like Omar Sharif. No one will be
like him," she told the AP on Friday after his death
was announced. "I don t think we are going to ever
have someone like him."
Sharif s son Tarek revealed in May that his father
had been suffering Alzheimer s. Zaki, the Egyptian
Theatrical Arts Guild president, told the AP Friday
that Sharif had stopped eating and drinking in the
last three days.
Sharif was romantically linked with a number of
Hollywood co-stars over the years. In 2004, he
acknowledged that he also had another son, who
was born after a one-night stand with an interviewer.
Away from the movies, Sharif was a world-class
bridge player who for many years wrote a newspaper
column on bridge. He quit the game in later years,
however, when he gave up gambling.
He had been a prodigious gambler, reportedly once
winning a million dollars at an Italian casino. After
losing a substantial amount at a Paris casino in 2003,
he insulted a croupier and was ordered to leave.
When he refused, he was thrown out and head-
butted a policeman during an ensuing scuffle. He
was fined US$1,700 and given a one-month sus-
Sharif spent much of his later years in Cairo and
at the Royal Moncean Hotel in Paris.
"When you live alone and you re not young, it s
good to live in a hotel," he told a reporter in 2005.
"If you feel lonely, you can go down to the bar. I
know all the people who work here and who come
here regularly. The room is done for you, and you
don t have to worry about anything," he said.
"If you feel anything, health-wise, you can call
the concierge and tell them to bring all the ambu-
lances in Paris." (AP)
Saturday, July 11, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
In Lawrence of Arabia, Omar Sharif
is first seen in the distance, a speck
in the swirling desert sand. As he
draws closer, he emerges first as a
black figure on a galloping camel,
slowly transforming into a handsome,
dark-eyed figure with a gap-tooth
smile. It wasn t unlike the Egyptian-
born actor s debut in Hollywood.
Sharif was Egypt s biggest box-office
star when David Lean cast him in
1962 s Lawrence of Arabia, but he was
a virtual unknown elsewhere. He
wasn t even the director s first choice
to play Sherif Ali, the tribal leader with
whom the enigmatic TE Lawrence
teams up to help lead the Arab revolt
against the Ottoman Empire.
Lean had hired another actor but
dropped him because his eyes weren t
the right color. The film s producer,
Sam Spiegel, went to Cairo to search
for a replacement and found Sharif,
already a heartthrob in his own country
playing brooding romantic heroes. After
passing a screen test that proved he
was fluent in English, he got the job.
The film brought him a supporting-
actor Oscar nomination and interna-
Three years later, Sharif demonstrat-
ed his versatility, playing the leading
role of a doctor-poet who endures
decades of Russian history, including
World War I and the Bolshevik Rev-
olution, surviving on his art and his
eternal love of Lara, in Dr Zhivago.
Lean s adaptation of the Boris Paster-
nak novel had a rocky beginning in its
first US release. Attendance was sparse
and reviews were negative.
After MGM removed it from theaters
and Lean re-edited the sprawling tale,
it was re-released and became a box-
office hit. Still, Sharif never thought
it was as good as it could have been.
"It s sentimental. Too much of that
music," he once said, referring to Mau-
rice Jarre s luscious Oscar-winning
Although Sharif never achieved that
level of success again, he remained a
sought-after actor for many years,
partly because of his proficiency at
playing different nationalities.
He was Argentine-born revolution-
ary Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Che!,
Italian Marco Polo in Marco the Mag-
nificent and Mongol leader Genghis
Khan in Genghis Khan. He was a Ger-
man officer in The Night of the Gen-
erals, an Austrian prince in Mayerling
and a Mexican outlaw in Mackenna s
He was also the Jewish gambler Nick
Arnstein opposite Barbra Streisand s
Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. The 1968
film was banned in his native Egypt
because he was cast as a Jew.
In his middle years Sharif began
appearing in such films as The Pink
Panther Strikes Again, Oh Heavenly
Dog!, The Baltimore Bullet and others
he dismissed as "rubbish."
The drought lasted so long that final-
ly, beginning in the late 1990s, Sharif
began declining all film offers.
"I lost my self-respect and dignity,"
he told a reporter in 2004. "Even my
grandchildren were making fun of me.
Grandpa, that was really bad. And this
one? It s worse. "
In 2003 he accepted a role in the
French film Monsieur Ibrahim, por-
traying a Muslim shopkeeper in Paris
who adopts a Jewish boy.
The role won him the Cesar, the
French equivalent of the Oscar, and he
followed with Hidalgo, a lively western
starring Viggo Mortensen. In that one
he was a desert sheikh who duels 11
assailants with a sword. His career was
back on track.
He suffered a public embarrassment
in 2007, however, when he pleaded no
contest to misdemeanor battery and
was ordered to take an anger manage-
ment course for punching a parking
valet who refused to accept his Euro-
Born Michael Shalhoub in Egypt s
Mediterranean coastal city of Alexan-
dria, Sharif was the son of Christian
After working three years at his
father s lumber company, he fulfilled
his longtime ambition to become a
movie actor, going on to appear in
nearly two dozen Egyptian films under
the name Omar el Sharif.
His fame only increased when he
married Egypt s then-reining movie
queen and screen beauty, Faten Hama-
ma, in 1955. Some of Egypt s most
iconic film posters are of Hamama and
Sharif. Sharif converted to Islam to
marry her, and they had a son, Tarek.
Hamama died in January.
They divorced in 1974, and Sharif
In a 2003 interview with the AP,
Sharif struck a wistful note about how
Lawrence of Arabia vaulted him to
fame. "It separated me from my wife,
from my family...We didn t see each
other anymore and that was it, the
Omar Sharif, of Doctor Zhivago dies
In this 2011 photo, actor Omar Sharif poses during a photo call for the Medfilm, Mediterranian
Film Festival lifetime achievement award, in Rome. Sharif died in a Cairo hospital of a heart
attack. AP PHOTO
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