Soad Hosny

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Soad Hosny
سُعاد حسني
Soad Hosny.jpg
Soad Hosny in 1970
Soad Muhammad Kamal Hosny Kamal El Baba

(1943-01-26)26 January 1943
Died21 June 2001(2001-06-21) (aged 58)
London, England
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1959–1991
Notable work
Full list
Salah Kurayyem
(m. 1968; div. 1969)

(m. 1970; div. 1981)

(m. 1981; div. 1981)

Maher Awad
(m. 1987)
RelativesNagat El-Sagheera (half-sister)

Soad Hosny (Arabic: سعاد حسني, pronounced [soˈʕæːd ˈħosni]; 26 January 1943[1] – 21 June 2001) was an Egyptian[2] actress born in Cairo. She was known as the "Cinderella of Egyptian cinema" and one of the most influential actresses in the Middle East and the Arab world.[3] She ascended to stardom at the end of the 1950s, performing in more than 83 films between 1959 and 1991 with a credit of 9 films in the greatest 100 films in the history of Egyptian Cinema. A majority of her films were shot in the 1960s and 1970s. Her final screen appearance was in the 1991 film, The Shepherd and the Women, directed by her ex-husband, Ali Badrakhan.[4]

Early life[edit]

Soad Muhammad Kamal Hosny was born in Bulaq district in Cairo, Egypt to Mohammad Hosni, a noted Islamic calligrapher, and his second wife, an Egyptian, Gawhara Mohamed Hassan.[5][6]

Her father was of Kurdish descent, who had emigrated to Egypt at just the age of 19. [7][8] Her parents divorced and her mother remarried, to an Egyptian man, Abdul Monem Hafeez, with whom she had six more children, thus giving Soad and her two sisters no fewer than 14 half-siblings.[9]

Her father's household was known as "the artists' home" because leading artists from across the Arab world regularly visited Hosni's home in Cairo for tuition and social interaction with the master calligrapher. Her father, whose artistic output included the production of frames for the silent movies and book covers, was well known across the artistic community. A number of his children became performance artists. Soad's half-sister, Nagat, was an actress and singer.[10] Her half-brother, Ezz Eddin Hosni (1927–2013), was a music composer and taught both Soad and Najat music and singing. Another sibling, Sami Hosni became a cello player, jewellery designer and also calligrapher.[11] while yet another brother, Farooq, was a painter and his daughter Samira was also an actress.[12]


Soad Hosny with Salah Zulfikar in Appointment at the Tower (1962)

At the age of three, she began her career when she sang in the popular Egyptian children's TV program, Papa Sharo, a popular program hosted by prominent kids' shows presenter Mohamed Shaaban. Her work included a wide range of genres – from light comedies and romances through to political satire.[13] Her film debut was in Hassan and Nayima (1959).[14] She is credited with acting in films with the most notable Egyptian film stars such as Omar Sharif, Salah Zulfikar and Rushdy Abaza. Her most well-known role was that of a college student who fell in love with her professor in the film, Hassan El Imam’s Watch Out for ZouZou (1972).[15]

Other important film credits include her roles in Hassan Al-Imam's Money and Women (1960) opposite Salah Zulfikar who she starred alongside as well in the commercial hit; Appointment at the Tower (1962) of Ezz El-Dine Zulficar. In the year 1964, she starred alongside Nadia Lutfi in Mahmoud Zulfikar's For Men Only, the film was a box office hit where she played a role of a girl disguised in a man's appearance to have the opportunity to work in a gas project. Hosny starred in Too Young for Love (1966) opposite Rushdy Abaza.

In 1970, she starred alongside Salah Zulfikar and Rushdy Abaza in the political film; Sunset and Sunrise (1970) of Kamal El Sheikh. She worked in two films with Youssef Chahine during her career starting with The Choice (1970), and for the fourth time pairing with Salah Zulfikar in Those People of the Nile (1972). In 1974, she starred in Kamal El Sheikh's Whom Should We Shoot? (1974) alongside Mahmoud Yassin. Her next role was a student and political activist, who was tortured in Karnak (1975), the film was based on the novel by Naguib Mahfouz. In the film, Shafika and Metwali (1979) with Ahmed Zaki and People on the Top (1981) with Nour El-Sherif, she transformed the musical numbers into scathing satires which gave voice to the oppressed. For this and her other hard-hitting, politically relevant roles, she was seen as part of the intelligentsia.[13]

Soad Hosny shaking hands with President Anwar Sadat, c. 1979

During her lifetime, she was known as the "Cinderella of the screen". She starred in films of every important Egyptian director during the 60s and 70s and played women in complex plots. In her later career, she played women who had been abused or victimised.[16] Due to illness, she retired from acting in the 1991.[17] Hosny's final screen appearance was in The Shepherd and the Women.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Soad Hosny with Ali Badrakhan

Soad Hosny was married four times.[18] Around 1968, she was married to cinematographer Salah Kurayyem; the marriage lasted for approximately one year. In 1970, Hosny was married to the Egyptian film director Ali Badrakhan; this marriage lasted for approximately eleven years. She was then married to Zaki Fatin Abdel Wahab, son of Fateen Abdel Wahab and Leila Mourad in 1981. This marriage lasted only five months.[citation needed] Persistent rumours claim that her first marriage was to the actor and singer, Abdel Halim Hafez (1929-1977), popularly known as "al Andaleeb al Asmar" [the tan nightingale], whom she is believed to have married in secret.[19] However, her family have denied the veracity of such rumours. [20]

She was romantically linked with various celebrities including the Egyptian film star, Abdel Halim Hafez.[21] Despite never wearing a wedding dress in all her marriages, Hosni wore the wedding dress many times on screen through her films, and her first film husband was the Egyptian film star Salah Zulfikar in Money and Women of 1960. The rumor of her marriage to Abdel Halim Hafez was not the first in her life. In late 1962, a strong rumor spread in the Egyptian press about her marriage to Salah Zulfikar who’s one of his country's most iconic male performers of all time and was popularly known as "Fares al Ahlem" [the Knight of the dreams], while filming with Zulfikar in Appointment at the Tower. Filming of the film scenes began in the Cairo Tower, and the team continued for two weeks on board the ship Aida in the Mediterranean, and after filming ended, the rumor of her marriage to Salah Zulfikar spread in newspapers and magazines at the time. Zulfikar did not forget the nature of his previous work as a police officer and began with his sense of security to investigate the source of the rumor, to make sure that the lighting worker in the film crew was the owner of the rumor after a kiss was filmed between Zulfikar and Soad Hosny, where the kiss lasted for three minutes, until Zulfikar sensed it took them too long and told the cinematographer, "Stop", and so the worker built this rumor because of the shot, but this rumor was denied and later, the two film stars participated in more than one film together.[22] Her fourth and final marriage was to screen writer Maher Awad.[23]


Stuart Tower in Westminster, England

On 21 June 2001, Soad Hosny died after falling from the balcony of her friend Nadia Yousri's apartment in Stuart Tower building in London. Her death was surrounded by controversy, with authorities initially failing to provide details of how she fell; an omission that fuelled media speculation and rumors that her death may have been a suicide or murder, rather than accidental.[24] Soad's body was flown home to Cairo[18] and her funeral there was attended by over 10,000 people. She was buried in a family's plot of land on the outskirts of Cairo.[25] She had no children and was survived by her last husband, writer Maher Awad, whom she married in 1987.[26][27]


In 2013, Lebanese filmmaker Rania Stephan used snippets from Hosny's films to re-tell Hosny's story and the history of Egyptian cinema in The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosny.[28] It was featured in Berlin's Art Week.[29] The Three Disappearances is an important archive, which while following the chronology of Hosni's career, simultaneously documents the costumes, sets and styles used from the 1950s to the 1990s, a period that marked the peak and decline of Egyptian cinema.[30]

One of Hosny's songs, "I'm going down to the Square" became a popular "anthem" during the Arab Spring of 2011.[30]


She appeared in more than 80 films.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "وثيقة مكتوبة : شهادة ميلاد سعاد حسني 1943 م". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Roa'ya Assar – بالمستندات الرسمية: سعاد حسني مصرية و وُلدت... | Facebook". Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Egyptian Cinderella". Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Egyptian screen star dies". BBC News. 22 June 2001. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  5. ^ Ahmad Al Samehi. Profile, Al-Ahram, 6 December 2012, Issue No. 46021: "Brother of Najat Al Saghira and Soad Hosny: I taught singing to Najat". Retrieved 4 July 2015. (in Arabic)
  6. ^ "Mohammad Hosni the Calligrapher", City Talks, 24 June 2015, Retrieved 10 July 2015 While Soad’s birth certificate states that both parents were See: ”Soad’s Birth Certificate”,, 26 January, 2017 <Online:>, other evidence indicates that her father only became a naturalised Egyptian in the 1960s
  7. ^ "Mohammad Hosni the Calligrapher", City Talks, 24 June 2015, Retrieved 10 July 2015
  8. ^ "Mohammad Hosni the Calligrapher", City Talks, 24 June 2015, Retrieved 10 July 2015
  9. ^ Mayad Beloun. Profile, Alsharq Al Awsat (newspaper), (3 August 2001), No. 8284.
  10. ^ Najat Al Saghira profile, Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  11. ^ [1], Al-Etihad [newspaper], UAE, "Obituary of Ezz- Eldin Hosni"
  12. ^ Mohammad Qenawi, "Najat Al Saghira wins 'Al Owais' Prize", 4 December 2006, Issue No. 10233. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  13. ^ a b Ginsberg, T. and Lippard, C., Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema, Scarecrow Press, 2010, p. 181
  14. ^ a b Lentz III, H.M., Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2001: Film, television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture McFarland, 2002, p. 146
  15. ^ Ginsberg, T. and Lippard, C., Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema, Scarecrow Press, 2010, pp 181–182; It may be worth noting that this source repeats stories occasionally published in the Arabic media, that her father was cruel and denied her an education until age 16 years. Her brother, in a media interview, dismissed this and other rumours about his family life, promulgated by the Arabic media, stressing that he and his siblings were raised in a supportive and artistic household where their talents were nurtured. See: Al-Samahi, A., "Najat's small brother and Suad Hosni: I learned to survive singing", (Interview with composer, Ezzidin Hosny), Al-Ahram, (Arabic newspaper in Egypt), 6 December 2012, Issue No. 46021, Online: (translated from Arabic)
  16. ^ Marks, L..U., Hanan Al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image, MIT Press, 2015, p. 185
  17. ^ "Egyptians Mourn Screen Cinderella", BBC News, Online:
  18. ^ a b "Egyptians mourn screen Cinderella". BBC News. 28 June 2001. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  19. ^ Nassem Al-Kurd, “Soad Hosni: An Egyptian Cinderella of Kurdish Roots”, n.d.
  20. ^ [ “Abdel Halim Hafez’, A Bridge to Egypt, 17 August, 2011
  21. ^ Allam, M., Vincere la Paura, Edizioni Mondadori, 2010, n.p
  22. ^ "«بعد قبلة لمدة 3 دقائق».. كواليس شائعة زواج سعاد حسني وصلاح ذو الفقار". جريدة الدستور (in Arabic). 28 December 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  23. ^ Nassem Al-Kurd, “Soad Hosni: An Egyptian Cinderella of Kurdish Roots”, n.d.
  24. ^ Ginsberg, T and Lippard, C., Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema Scarecrow Press, 2010, p. 182
  25. ^ Soad Hosni funeral coverage, albayan.Ae, 29 June 2001.
  26. ^ Al Arabiya (Arabic TV channel, Dubai); "Husbands of screen Cinderella ...". Retrieved 23 June 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  27. ^ "Egyptians mourn screen Cinderella". 28 June 2001. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  28. ^ Harbord, J., Ex-centric Cinema: Giorgio Agamben and Film Archaeology, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2016, p. 101
  29. ^ Rowan El Shimi, "Cinderella story of Egyptian cinema told through film on Soad Hosny",, 25 September 2013.
  30. ^ a b Russell, C., Archiveology: Walter Benjamin and Archival Film Practices, Duke University Press, 2018 [E-book edition], n.p.


  • Terri Ginsberg, Chris Lippard, 2010: Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema, Scarecrow Press.
  • Ashraf Gharib, 2001: Soad Hosni: Al-Hulm Al-Dai (Soad Hosni: The Lost Dream). (Cf. "Return of Soad". Al-Ahram Weekly. 11–17 November 2001. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.)
  • Mohamed Soweid, 2004: Cabaret Suad, Beirut: Dar al-Adab. (Cf. "The cornflake predicament". Al-Ahram Weekly. 16–22 June 2005. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.)

External links[edit]

Articles and essays[edit]

Media portrayals[edit]