Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. The global film industry has often been dominated by Westerners, giving the impression that there is a shortage of talented actors and actresses on the African continent. However, over the years, a few African actors have been able to dispel this belief, starting with Omar Sharif, the legendary Egyptian actor who starred in famous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Funny Girl
The road he paved in Hollywood was threaded by modern African stars like Lupita Nyong’o, who has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress to her name. Who is this Egyptian cult actor? Find out more about Omar Sharif below.
Omar Sharif – biography
When he was a young man, he had dashing looks that brought a number of women and men to their knees. At the peak of his career, Omar Sharif was one of the leading actors on the planet. A lumber merchant’s son’s superior acting skills put Hollywood food in the palm of his hand.
Omar Sharif was born in Alexandria at the time,kingdom of Egypt on April 10, 1932 to a wealthy family. His father was a wealthy timber merchant while his mother was a respected hostess at the time.
During his adolescence, Omar Sharif spent his time awash in knowledge, particularly in languages, where he learned French, Spanish, Greek, Italian and Arabic. He studied at the prestigious Victoria College in Alexandria before later studying at the prestigious Cairo University and graduating in mathematics and physics.
A life as a businessman in his father’s lumber business initially held Omar’s interests until he was caught up in his passion for acting and surrendering the certainty of a craftsman to a life of uncertainty of an acting career.
Until 1955, Omar Sharif was known to all as Michel Dimitri Chalhoub. Desiring to marry a fellow actress, Faten Hamama, Michel changed his name to Omar Sharif, which set fire to English and American film productions.
Before beginning to take on English and American productions, Omar Sharif began his acting career in Egypt, where he acted in several local productions from 1954 when he made his film debut. The blazing sun In the first year of his debut, he starred in a total of three films, Shaytan Al-Sahra and Sira ‘Fi al-Wadi, along with The Blazing Sun.
His performances in these films proved to be the catalyst needed for his budding acting career. He quickly became a popular name in the Egyptian film industry, and he continued to play leading roles in several films, including leading roles in romantic films alongside his wife Faten Hamama.
Lawrence of Arabia achieved his international breakthrough. After missing out on some other actors with bigger names outside of the Egyptian film industry, David Lean, the director of the legendary film, decided to cast Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali. The role would be his first role outside of the Egyptian production and his first English production. Despite initial skepticism about the casting choice, his performance received worldwide praise, earning him an Oscar nomination and two Golden Globe Awards.
The success of his first English outing paved the way for him to star in several other international productions and become an international actor. His other notable films include The Fall of the Roman Empire, Behold a Pale Horse, Doctor Zhivago, and many more.
Outside of acting, he was a notable bridge player. He represented the United Arab Republic at the 1964 World Bridge Olympics and the Egyptian team in 1968.
Family life – spouse, son
Before Omar Sharif was Omar Sharif, he met his only wife, Faten Hamama, an Egyptian actress. The couple met on the set of the film, Battle in the Valley After meeting on the set of the film, the duo fell in love and due to Faten Hamama’s strong beliefs, Omar converted to Islam in order to marry her.
Their marriage officially ended in 1974 after separating in 1966. Before their relationship finally died, they had a son named Tarek Sharif who was born in 1957.
Wealth (income and earnings)
Omar Sharif lost to gambling and merry-go-round to a career with a large financial legacy. Despite appearing in commercially successful films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, he died with a modest net worth of $2 million. His deal with Columbia for Lawrence of Arabia earned him $50,000 for seven films, which equates to over $400,000 per film when adjusted for inflation.
Death – How did Omar Sharif die?
Towards the end of his life, Omar suffered from a few health problems. He suffered a heart attack in 1994, which was treated with triple heart bypass surgery. Before the operation, Omar smoked 100 cigarettes a day. In 2015 it was announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease and died on July 10, 2015 at the age of 83. He died six months after his wife Faten died and was buried in the city of Cairo.