Omar Sharif – The One Who Started It All

on Thursday, July 11, 2013

“ I said to [ George W. Bush], even before he entered Iraq: “Forget about all that. We, the Arabs . . . Are not like regular countries. You will drown there”. He didn’t believe me. “ – Omar Sharif

Omar Sharif is a  French-Arabic actor best known for his role in “ Lawrence of Arabia “ and for playing the lead character in “Doctor Zhivago“. He was born with the name of Michel Demitri Shalhoud on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt. Having both Syrian and Lebanese ancestry, he was brought up as a Roman Catholic. He was also quite educated as he graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics, with a major from the University of Cairo. He could also speak English, Arabic, Spanish, Greek and French fluently. Despite being more than qualified, after graduating, he entered the family lumber business.

Even before he made his English-language film debut, Sharif was already a star in the Egyptian cinema, His first Egyptian movie “Siraa Fil Wadi” – was alongside the renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, whom he went to marry in 1955. For marrying the actress, he turned his religion from being a Roman Catholic to Islam. They had a child named Tarek Sharif before filing for a divorced, which went through in 1974. He never married again after that.

His first English Language film “ Lawrence Of Arabia” won him the Best Supporting Role Actor Academy Award and gained him international fame. He later on won the Golden Globe Award as the best lead actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his lead role in “Doctor Zhivago”  without being nominated for an Oscar. In 2003, he also won the Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor  award and the Best Actor Cesar from the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma for his role as elderly Muslim shopkeeper in “Monsieur Ibrahim”. Although he didn’t win an Oscar, Best Actor Cesar award is pretty much the equivalent of an Oscar in France.

Omar Sharif is also a renowned as one of the world best known contact bridge player. Sometimes he would miss his schedules for shooting, to play in some major contact bridge event. He is a self proclaimed gambler in this regard, and has himself stated that due to this habit of his, he was just about always broke. He also published several books regarding contact bridge and have also written a biography. He also licensed a bridge computer game named “Omar Sharif Bridges”, which marketed since 1992.

He was a known smoker and would usually go through 100 cigarettes a day. This made him quite ill and in 1992, he underwent a triple bypass surgery. He also suffered from mild heart attacks in 1994.

Now at the Age 81, he is a true inspiration to all Muslim actors, who wants to be famous in Hollywood. His name will be remembered throughout history as one an exceptional actor who lives life to the fullest.. His final quote in his autobiography says it all, “Actually, I want today to be like yesterday. . . Is that asking too much?”

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