Omar Sharif 10 April 1932 – 10 July 2015) was an Egyptian actor, best known for his British English and American films, having started his career in his native Egypt, in the 1950s. His films included Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) andFunny Girl (1968). He was nominated for an Academy Award. He won three Golden Globe Awards and a César Award.
Omar Sharif, whose surname means “noble” or “nobleman” in Arabic, was born on 10 April 1932,as Michel Demitri Chalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Melkite Greek Catholic family of Lebanese descent. His father, Joseph Chalhoub, a precious woods merchant originally from Zahlé, Lebanon, moved to Egypt in the early 20th century. His mother, Claire Saada, was a noted society hostess, and Egypt’s King Farouk was a regular visitor until he was deposed in 1952.
In his youth, Sharif studied at Victoria College, Alexandria, where he showed a talent for languages. He later graduated fromCairo University with a degree in mathematics and physics. He then worked for a while in his father’s precious wood business before studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1955, Sharif converted to Islam in order to marry fellow Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.
In 1954, Sharif began his acting career in his native Egypt with a role in Shaytan Al-Sahra (“Devil of the Desert”). In the same year he appeared in Sira` Fi al-Wadi (“Struggle in the Valley”). He quickly rose to stardom, appearing in Egyptian productions, including La Anam (“Sleepless”) in 1958, Sayyidat al-Qasr (“Lady of the Palace”) in 1959 and the Anna Kareninaadaptation Nahr el hub (“The River of Love”) in 1961. He also starred with his wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, in several movies as romantic leads.
In May 2015 it was reported that Sharif was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. His son Tarek El-Sharif said that his father was becoming confused when remembering some of the biggest films of his career; he would mix up the names of his best-known films, Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, often forgetting where they were filmed. On 10 July 2015, less than six months after Hamama’s death at the same age, Sharif died after suffering a heart attack at a hospital inCairo, Egypt. He was 83.