Omar Sharif

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For other people named Omar Sharif, see Omar Sharif (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Umer Sharif.
Omar Sharif
Omar Sharif - Zhivago - 1965.jpg
Sharif in Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Native name عمر الشريف
Born Michel Demitri Shalhoub
(1932-04-10) April 10, 1932 (age 82)
Alexandria, Egypt
Education Victoria College
Alma mater Cairo University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954–Present
Spouse(s) Faten Hamama (1954–74)
Children One son
Awards

Omar Sharif (Arabic: عمر الشريف‎, Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈʕomɑɾˤ eʃʃɪˈɾiːf]; born Michel Demitri Shalhoub, [miˈʃel dɪˈmitɾi ʃælˈhuːb]; 10 April 1932) is an Egyptian actor. The assumed surname Sharif means "noble" in Arabic. His films include Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Funny Girl (1968). He has been nominated for an Academy Award and has won three Golden Globe Awards.

Early life[edit]

Born in Alexandria, Egypt,[1] in 1932 as Michel Chalhoub, he is the son of Joseph Chalhoub, a precious wood merchant, and Claire Saada. His father had left the city of Zahle, Lebanon, in the early twentieth century and came to settle in Egypt. Sharif was raised as a Melkite Greek Catholic. After making appearance in Lawrence of Arabia, he converted to Islam.

After obtaining a degree in mathematics and physics at the University of Cairo, he worked for five years in the business of precious wood of his father, before studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Acting career[edit]

Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

In 1953, Sharif began his acting career with a role in Sira` Fi al-Wadi. He quickly rose to stardom, appearing in over 20 Egyptian productions, including Ayyamna el helwa with singer Abdel Halim Hafez, La anam in 1958, Sayedat el kasr in 1959 and the Anna Karenina adaptation Nahr el hub in 1961. He also starred with his wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, in several movies as romantic leads.

Sharif's first English-language film was in the role of Sharif Ali in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. Following this breakthrough role, Sharif played a variety of characters, including a Spanish priest in Behold a Pale Horse (1964) and the Mongolian conqueror in Genghis Khan (1965). In the same year, Sharif reunited with Lean to play the title role in Doctor Zhivago, an adaptation of Boris Pasternak's novel.

Over the next few years, Sharif starred as a German military officer in The Night of the Generals, as Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria in Mayerling and as Che Guevara in Che!. Sharif was also acclaimed for his portrayal of Nicky Arnstein, husband to Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, though some thought he was miscast as a New York Jewish gambler. His decision to work with costar Barbra Streisand angered Egypt's government at the time due to Streisand's support for the state of Israel. Streisand herself responded with "You think Cairo was upset? You should've seen the letter I got from my Aunt Rose!" Sharif reprised the role in the film’s sequel, Funny Lady in 1975.

In 2003, he received acclaim for his role in the French-language film adaptation of the novel Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran, as a Muslim Turkish merchant who becomes a father figure for a Jewish boy.

Contract bridge career[edit]

Sharif once ranked among the world's best-known contract bridge players, forming the "Omar Sharif Bridge Circus" in 1967 which toured the world, competing against such powerhouse teams as Blue Team and Dallas Aces, at a time when barnstorming bridge teams were very popular. With Charles Goren, Sharif co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune[2] for several years, but has mostly turned over the writing of the column to Tannah Hirsch, whose name appears on the byline with Sharif to this day. He is also both author and co-author of several books on bridge and has licensed his name to a bridge video game; initially released in a MS-DOS version and Amiga version in 1992, Omar Sharif on Bridge is still sold in Windows and "mobile platform" versions.[3] Computer Gaming World in 1992 described the game as "easy to get into, challenging to play and well-designed",[4] and named it one of the year's best strategy games.[5] In 1993 the magazine stated that "it does not play a very good game of bridge", however, and criticized it for inadequate documentation and forcing players to conform to its bidding style. The magazine recommended two other bridge games instead.[6] For a number of years his partner at international tournaments was Egyptian contract bridge superstar Maged Elewa.

Sharif has been a regular in casinos in France.[7]

In 2006, Sharif declared both pastimes as ended when he was asked if he still played bridge: "I've stopped altogether. I decided I didn't want to be a slave to any passion any more except for my work. I had too many passions, bridge, horses, gambling. I want to live a different kind of life, be with my family more because I didn't give them enough time."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Sharif in January 2013

Family and personal relationships[edit]

Sharif lived in his native Egypt from birth in 1932 until he moved to Europe in 1965.[9] He recounts that, in 1932, his father "wasn't a wealthy man", but "earned quite a bit of money".[10] Before the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, King Farouk frequented Sharif's family's house, and became a friend and card game partner of Sharif's mother. His mother was an elegant and charming hostess who was all too delighted with the association because it gave her the privilege of "consorting only with the elite" of Egyptian society. Sharif also recounts that his father's timber business was very successful during that time, in ways that Sharif describes as dishonest or immoral.[11]

By contrast, after 1952, Sharif states that wealth changed hands in Egypt, under Nasser's nationalization policies.[12] His father's business "took a beating". Travel restrictions in the form of "exit visas" were required of Egyptians, and his own travel to take part in international films was sometimes impeded, which he could not tolerate. The Nasser government's travel restrictions[13] influenced Sharif's decision to remain in Europe between his film shoots, a decision that cost him his marriage to Egyptian film legend Faten Hamama, though they remained friends. It was a major crossroad in Sharif's life and changed him from an established family man to a lifelong bachelor living in European hotels. When commenting about his fame and life in Hollywood, Sharif said, "It gave me glory, but it gave me loneliness also. And a lot of missing my own land, my own people and my own country."[13] Due to the state of war between Egypt and Israel, Sharif's Egyptian citizenship was almost withdrawn by the Egyptian Government when his affair with Barbra Streisand was made public in the Egyptian press due to Streisand's vocal support of Israel.[14]

Sharif with Lebanese actress and singer Cyrine Abdelnour at the Venice Film Festival in 2009

In 1955, Sharif converted to Islam[15] to marry Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.[16] The couple had one son, Tarek El-Sharif, born 1957 in Egypt, who appeared in Doctor Zhivago as Yuri at the age of eight. They separated in 1966 and the marriage ended in 1974.[13] Sharif never remarried; he stated that since his divorce, he never fell in love with another woman, although he lived abroad for years.[13]

Sharif became friends with Peter O'Toole during the making of Lawrence of Arabia. They appeared in several other films together and remained close friends. He is also good friends with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass. Actor and friend Tom Courtenay revealed in an interview for the July 19, 2008, edition of BBC Radio's Test Match Special that Sharif supported Hull City Association Football Club and in the 1970s would telephone their automated scoreline from his home in Paris for score updates. Sharif was given an honorary degree by the University of Hull in 2010 and used the occasion to meet up with Hull City football player Ken Wagstaff.[17]

At present, Sharif resides mostly in Cairo with his family.[13] In addition to his son, he has two grandsons, Omar (born 1983 in Montreal) and Karim.[13] Omar Sharif, Jr. is also an actor.[18] He is most recently known for playfully tussling on stage at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony with actor Kirk Douglas, who was presenting the award for Best Supporting Actress that evening.[19] Sharif Jr. also generated buzz for coming out as both gay and half-Jewish during the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, saying he fears for his safety after Islamist parties' triumph in parliamentary elections.[20][21]

Criminal convictions[edit]

In August 2003, Sharif received a one-month suspended prison sentence for striking a police officer in a suburban Parisian casino the previous month. He was fined the equivalent of US$1,700. On February 13, 2007, Sharif was "found guilty of assaulting a Beverly Hills parking lot attendant and breaking his nose".[22]

Doha Tribeca Film Festival[edit]

On October 27, 2011, Sharif became irritated with a woman who was queuing up to have her photo taken with him on the red carpet at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. He struck her, but after a moment he turned and leaned in to pose for a picture with her.[23][24]

Awards[edit]

In November 2005, Sharif was awarded the inaugural[25] Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity. The medal, which is handed out very infrequently, is named after Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Only 25 have been struck, as determined by the agreement between UNESCO, Russia's Mosfilm and the Vivat Foundation.[26]

Filmography[edit]

Films
Year Title Role Notes
1954 Shaytan al-Sahra Known as Devil of the Sahara
1954 Sira` Fi al-Wadi Ahmed Also known as The Blazing Sun or Struggle in the Valley or Fight in the Valley'
1955 Ayyamna al-Holwa (Our Best Days) Ahmed
1956 Siraa Fil-Mina Ragab
1957 Ard al-Salam Ahmed Known as Land of Peace
1957 The Lebanese Mission Mokrir Original title was La Châtelaine du Liban; credited as Omar Cherif
1958 La anam Aziz Also known as I Do Not Sleep and No Tomorrow
1958 Goha Goha Credited as Omar Cherif
1959 Fadiha fil-zamalek Scandal in Zamalek
1959 Sayedat el kasr Adel Lady of the Castle
1959 Seraa fil Nil Muhassab Struggle on the Nile
1960 Bidaya wa nihaya
1960 Hobi al-wahid My Only Love
1960 Esha'a hob Rumor of Love
1960 Nahr al-Hob Khalid The River of love
1961 A Man in our House Ibrahim
1962 Lawrence of Arabia Sherif Ali Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1964 Behold a Pale Horse Francisco
1964 The Fall of the Roman Empire Sohamus
1965 Doctor Zhivago Dr. Zhivago (Yuri) Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1965 The Yellow Rolls-Royce Davich
1965 Genghis Khan Genghis Khan
1966 The Poppy Is Also a Flower Dr. Rad
1967 The Night of the Generals Major Grau
1967 More Than A Miracle Prince Rodrigo Fernandez
1968 Funny Girl Nick Arnstein
1968 Mayerling Archduke Rudolf
1969 Che! Che Guevara
1969 The Appointment Frenderico Fendi
1969 Mackenna's Gold Colorado
1970 The Last Valley Vogel
1971 The Horsemen Uraz
1971 The Burglars Abel Zacharia
1972 Le Droit d'aimer (fr) Pierre
1973 The Mysterious Island Captain Nemo TV miniseries; also known as L'Ile Mysterieuse
1974 Juggernaut Captain Axel Brunel
1974 The Tamarind Seed Feodor Sverdlov
1975 Ace Up My Sleeve Andre Ferren also known as Crime and Passion
1975 Funny Lady Nicky Arnstein
1976 The Pink Panther Strikes Again Egyptian Assassin uncredited cameo
1979 Ashanti: Land of No Mercy Prince hassan
1979 Bloodline Ivo Palazzi
1980 S*H*E Baron Cesare Magnasco S*H*E: Security Hazards Expert
1980 Oh Heavenly Dog Bart
1980 The Baltimore Bullet The Deacon
1980 Pleasure Palace Louis Lefevre TV movie
1981 Green Ice Meno Argenti
1981 Inchon Indian officer uncredited cameo
1984 Top Secret! Agent Cedric
1986 Peter the Great Prince Feodor Romodanovsky TV series
1986 Harem Sultan Hassan TV movie
1986 Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna Czar Nicholas II TV series
1987 The Novice
1988 The Possessed Stepan Les Possédés
1989 Al-aragoz Mohamed Gad El Kareem The Puppeteer
1990 The Opium Connection
1990 The Rainbow Thief Dima
1991 Memories of Midnight Constantin Demiris TV movie
1991 Mowaten masri An Egyptian Citizen
1992 Beyond Justice Emir Beni-Zair
1992 Grand Larceny
1992 Mayrig Hagop
1992 Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris Marquis Hippolite TV Movie
1992 588 rue paradis Hagop Mother
1993 Dehk we le'b we gad we hob Laughter, Games, Seriousness and Love
1994 Lie Down With Lions Safar Khan TV movie; Red Eagle
1995 Catherine the Great Razumovsky TV movie
1996 Gulliver's Travels The Sorcerer TV movie
1997 Heaven Before I Die Khalil Gibran
1998 Mysteries of Egypt Grandfather Documentary
1999 The 13th Warrior Melchisideck
2001 The Parole Officer Victor
2003 Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran Monsieur Ibrahim César Award for Best Actor
2004 Hidalgo Sheikh Riyadh
2005 Imperium: Saint Peter Saint Peter TV movie
2005 Fuoco su di me Principe Nicola Fire at my Heart
2005 Shaka Zulu: The Last Great Warrior
2006 One Night with the King Prince Memucan
2006 The Crown Prince Hans Canon TV movie; Kronprinz Rudolf
2007 Hanan W Haneen TV series
2007 The Ten Commandments Jethro TV series
2008 The Last Templar Konstantine TV series
2008 Hassan & Marcus Hassan/Morcus Hassan wa Morcus
2008 10,000 BC Narrator Voice only
2009 The Traveller
2009 J'ai oublié de te dire Jaume I forgot to Tell You
2009 La Traversée du désir
2013 Rock the Casbah

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Eternal Male, with Marie-Thérèse Guinchard, transl. Martin Sokolinsky (Doubleday, 1977); orig. French, Éternel masculin (Paris: Stock, 1976)
  • Goren's Bridge Complete, Charles Goren with Omar Sharif (Doubleday, 1980) – one of several later editions of Goren
  • Omar Sharif's Life in Bridge, with Anne Segalen and Patrick Sussel, transl. and adapted by Terence Reese (Faber, 1983); orig. French, Ma vie au bridge (Paris: Fayard, 1982)
  • Omar Sharif Talks Bridge (2004)
  • Bridge Deluxe II Play with Omar Sharif (instruction manual)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Omar Sharif: 'It is a great film, but I'm not very good in it'", The Independent
  2. ^ "Change of Subject - Observations, reports, tips, referrals and tirades Chicago Tribune Blog". Chicago Tribune. September 6, 2005. 
  3. ^ "> {subcategory}". Thetradingcentre.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Johnny L. (1992-09). "Interplay's Omar Sharif on Bridge". Computer Gaming World. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 3 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "CGW Salutes The Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World. 1992-11. p. 110. Retrieved 4 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Lindeman, David E. (1993-03). "Three Top Computer Bridge Games". Computer Gaming World. p. 42. Retrieved 6 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "Omar Sharif sued for assault". (November 6, 2005). New Sunday Times, p. 29.
  8. ^ Mark Lubischer and Betty Jo Tucker. "ReelTalk Movie Reviews". Reeltalkreviews.com. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 41.
  10. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., pp. 45-46.
  11. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 46.
  12. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 98.
  13. ^ a b c d e f AlJazeeraEnglish. "Riz Khan - Omar Sharif - 10 Oct 07". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  14. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 79.
  15. ^ [1]\
  16. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 71.
  17. ^ "THEY are two of the greatest names in film history.". This is Hull and East Riding. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  18. ^ Archived April 27, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Ross von Metzke (2011-02-28). "Introducing Omar Sharif Jr". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  20. ^ "Omar Sharif Jr. Comes Out as Gay, Half-Jewish: "Am I Welcome in Egypt?"". ABC News. 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  21. ^ http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/features/2012/03/16/coming-out-story-were-not-cairo-anymore
  22. ^ Archived March 6, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "You've Been Framed? Omar Sharif appears to slap a woman on film during a red carpet appearance at a Film Festival". Daily Mail (London). October 28, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Omar Sharif slapw a woman on film during a red carpet appearance at a Film Festival". Doha, Qatar. October 28, 2011. 
  25. ^ UNESCO Media Services; Retrieved 18 January 2014
  26. ^ Famed screen artist Omar Sharif receives UNESCO Eisenstein Medal

External links[edit]