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|Born||17 February 1918|
|Died||21 November 1995(aged 77)|
Leila Mourad was born in Al Daher, Cairo on February 17, 1918 to an Egyptian father of Iraqi Jewish descent, Zaki Mourad, a respected singer, musician, and religious cantor or Hazan in the twenties, and to a Jewish mother of Polish descent, Gamilah Salmon, who gave birth as well to Isak, Ibrahim, Malak, Mounir and Samihah Mourad. Her brother Mounir Mourad was an actor and composer.
The Egyptian Jewish composer Dawood Hosni, who composed the first Operetta in the Arabic language, helped start Leila Mourad's career by composing two songs for her: "Hairana Leh Bein El-Eloub" (Why can't you choose from among lovers), and "Howa el dala'a ya'ani khessam" (Does daliance mean avoiding me?). Further success came when the prominent Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab heard her singing and gave her a role in his film Yahia el Hob (Viva Love!) in 1938.
In 1953, she was selected, over Umm Kulthum, as the official singer of the Egyptian revolution. Shortly thereafter, a rumor that Mourad had visited Israel, where she had family, and donated money to its military, raised suspicions of spying and caused some Arab radio stations to boycott her. She denied these allegations and when called for judicial investigations, maintained her innocence all along, declaring, "I am an Egyptian Muslim". No proof was found that she had contributed money to Israel's military; the Egyptian government investigated and concluded that the charges against the singer were without foundation. Though, she has likely sent money to and been in contact with her family in Israel. It was customary for Egyptian Jews to clandestinely exchange gifts with their families in Israel through intermediaries in France or other European countries. It was also rumored that she met in Paris with members of her family living in Israel, an illegal act in Egypt as Nasser's government forbade residents of Egypt from contacting Israelis.
Some historians claim that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser insisted that Syria end their boycott of her songs and films. Yet, these efforts were likely perfunctory. Nasser clearly preferred Umm Kulthum over Leila Mourad. Shortly after Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power by staging a coup d'état against Mohamed Naguib, Leila Mourad ended her career abruptly without giving an explanation. At the same time, Umm Kulthum came out with a song "Ya Gamal ya methal el wataniya", "Oh Gamal, you are the prime example of patriotism." This coincidence of event suggests that Nasser, who considered Egyptian Jews foreigners and under whose rule the remaining Jewish community was dispersed from Egypt, might have ended Laila's career to ascertain that a Jewish artist is never a threat to an authentically Egyptian one, as her selection over Um Kulthum in 1953 might indicate. As Egyptians would overwhelmingly agree that no one could plausibly be a threat to Um Kulthum, "Kawkab el Shark", Nasser's measure against Laila is probably part of his wider determined and successful effort to expunge Jewish existence in public life, and later, any life in Egypt.
Nevertheless, Laila Murad remained popular and beloved by Egyptian Muslims and non-Muslims, even as the public never took her conversion as credible, but rather as an attempt at not losing her popularity; Egyptians tend not take seriously the religious conviction of actresses in romantic roles, and belly dancers. Nor did her assumed affection for Israel ever hurt her; in a society where religious identity is paramount and overshadows all other identities, including Egyptian national and professional identities, it was only seen as normal that a Jewish star would have a place in her heart for the newly reestablished and only Jewish state on the planet. This is all the more plausible as Egyptians assumed that every Jew had family in Israel.
Leila Mourad's relationship with her family was not an easy one, possibly due to her conversion to Islam. Between 1967 and 1970, Hundreds of Egyptian Jewish males were deported to the detention camps of Abu Zaabal and Tura, including Leila's brother, Isak Zaki. Families of the detainees were allowed to visit beginning in 1968, and some noted that Leila was never seen visiting her brother.
Leila Mourad made a few brief reappearances during Ramadan in 1970, when she was scheduled to read Salah Jaheen's "Fawazeer Ramadan" (Ramadan' puzzles), a daily traditional radio program held during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Leila Mourad, the attractive Egyptian star and singer, died in a hospital in Cairo in 1995.
Leila Mourad married Anwar Wagdi (1947–1954), a Muslim, over the objection of her father, the Jewish singer and Hazan Zaki Murad. They were married and divorced three times. Leila gives the reason for her divorces as the fact that she was not fully aware of the seriousness of Wagdi's illness, one that made him constantly irritable and difficult to live with. Later she married Waguih Abaza, and then film director Fatin Abdul Wahab and she gave birth to their son Zaki Fatin Abdul Wahab, and finally divorced in 1969.
Her famous songs include:
- "Yama Arak el nasim"
- "Ya msafer we nassi hawak"
- "Albi dalleli"
- "leeh khaletni ahebak"
- "Elmaya we el hawa"
- "Ya aaz mn Ainy"
- "Sanaten wana ahayel feek"
- "El Hob Gameel".
- "Monaya fi Korbak"
- "Abgad Hawaz".
- "Einy Betref", a duet with the Egyptian actor "Naguib AlRaihani".
Her movies include:
- Sayedat al-Qitar (Lady on the Train), 1953.
- Ward el gharam (Flowers of Love), 1952.
- Ghazal Al Banat (Flirtation of Girls), 1949.
- El Hawa wal chabab (Love and Youth), 1948.
- Darbet el kadar (The Blow of Fate), 1947.
- Qalbi dalili (My Heart is My Guide), 1947.
- Khatem Suleiman (Solomon's Ring), 1947.
- Leila bint el agnia (Leila, Daughter of the Rich), 1947.
- Leila bint el fukara (Leila, Daughter of the Poor), 1946.
- El Madi el maghoul (The Forgotten Past), 1946.
- Shadia al wadi (The Singer in the Valley), 1946.
- Leila fil zalam (Leila in the Shadows), 1944.
- Leila, bint al-madaress (Leila, the Schoolgirl), 1942.
- Laila, ghadet el camelia (Leila, Lady of the Camelias), 1942.
- Shuhaddaa el gharam (Romeo and Juliet), 1942.
- Leila, bint el rif (Leila, the Girl from the Country), 1941.
- Laila momtera (Stormy Night), 1940.
- Yahya el hub (Long Live Love), 1938.
The Ramadan television series "Ana Albi Dalili", about Leila Mourad, debuted in 2009. It is an Egyptian production headed by Syrian director Muhamad Zuhair Rajab. Safa Sultan, a Syrian actress, plays Leila Mourad. Ahmed Flukhs portrays Anwar Wagdi. Izat Abu Oof, an Egyptian actor, portrays Zaki Mourad and Hala Fahr portrays Miriam, the aunt of Leila Mourad.
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