Omar Sharif: Wikis


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Omar Sharif

Omar Sharif, September 2009
Born Michael Demitri Shalhoub
April 10, 1932 (1932-04-10) (age 77)
Alexandria, Egypt
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954 – present
Spouse(s) Faten Hamama (1954-1974)

Omar Sharif, born Michael Demitri Shalhoub (April 10, 1932) is an Egyptian actor who has starred in Hollywood films, most famously in Doctor Zhivago, Funny Girl and Lawrence of Arabia. He has been nominated for an Academy Award and has won three Golden Globe Awards.


Personal life

Omar Sharif was born Michael Shalhoub in Alexandria, into a wealthy Lebanese-Egyptian Catholic family.[1] Sharif graduated from Alexandria’s Victoria College, then from Cairo University with degrees in both mathematics and physics. In 1955, Omar El-Sharif converted to Islam to marry Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.[2] The couple had one son, Tarek El-Sharif, who appeared in Doctor Zhivago as Yuri at the age of eight. They separated in 1966 and the marriage ended in 1974.[3] Sharif never remarried; he stated that since his divorce, he never fell in love with another woman, and that, although he lived abroad for years, it was not possible for him to fall in love with a woman who was not Egyptian.[4][5] In a 2007 interview, Sharif denied rumors that he had become atheist. He’s remained a firm believer in God and Islam, and had performed a Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca) three or four years earlier.[6]

Sharif lived in his native Egypt from birth in 1932 till he moved to Europe in 1965.[7] Omar recounts that, in 1932, his father "wasn't a wealthy man", but "earned quite a bit of money".[8] Before the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, King Farouk frequented Omar's family's house, and became a friend and card game partner of Omar's mother. His mother was an elegant and charming host who was all too delighted with the association because it gave her the privilege of "consorting only with the elite" of Egyptian society. Omar also recounts that his father's timber business was very successful during that time, in ways that Omar himself describes as dishonest or immoral.[9]

By contrast, after 1952, Omar states[10] that wealth changed hands (or names) in Egypt, under Nasser's nationalization policies. 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[11] influenced Omar'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 cross-roads in Omar's life and changed him from an established family man to a life-long 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."[12] His Egyptian citizenship was almost withdrawn by Nasser's government when Sharif's affair with Barbra Streisand (a vocal supporter of Israel) was made public in the Egyptian press.[13]

Sharif became friends with Peter O'Toole during the making of Lawrence of Arabia. They have appeared in several other films together and remain close friends. He is also good friends with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.

Sharif underwent a triple bypass surgery in 1992, and suffered a mild heart attack in 1994. Sharif had smoked 50 cigarettes a day; after the surgery, he quit easily.[citation needed]

Sharif then met his now close friend and lawyer Nabil Mounier Habib. When Sharif visits Egypt he stays in Habib's residence in Cairo, Egypt. Sharif met Habib at the same hospital where he had his surgery; Habib was there because his wife was in labor. They met through a mutual friend, Naguib Mahfouz, who would divide his time between both men's hospital rooms. From that day on, Sharif and Habib became very close friends. They both attended their mutual friend's funeral in 2006 at the El-Rashdan Mosque in Nasr City.

Omar Sharif in the movie A man in our house, 1961

Sharif is fluent in Arabic, English, Greek, and French. He also speaks some Italian, Spanish and Turkish.[14]

On August 5, 2003, he received a one-month suspended prison sentence for striking a police officer in a suburban Parisian casino in July. He was fined the equivalent of $US1700 and ordered to pay the officer the equivalent of $US340 in damages. (He had insulted and then head-butted the Pontoise policeman, who tried to intervene in an argument between the actor and a roulette croupier.)[citation needed] On February 13, 2007 Sharif was "found guilty of assaulting a Beverly Hills parking lot attendant and breaking his nose".[15]

Omar Sharif said the “East” will never have a democracy because people like him “prefer to go to the neighborhood chief”. In the interview, Sharif reportedly blasted U.S. policy in Iraq and said Americans are ignorant. Sharif also claimed to have spoken with U.S President George W. Bush before the beginning of the Iraq War, telling him that Arabs were not like westerners and that Arab nations were made up of sects resistant to becoming democratized. [16][17]

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 the Hull City soccer team and in the 1970s would telephone their automated scoreline from his home in Paris for score updates.

At present, Sharif resides mostly in Cairo with his family.[18] In addition to his son, he has two grandsons, Omar and Karim.[19]


Sharif, once among the world's best known contract bridge players, co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune[20] for several years. He is also both author and co-author of several books on bridge and has licensed his name to a bridge computer game; initially released in a DOS version in 1992, Omar Sharif Bridge is still sold in Windows and "mobile platform" versions.[21] For a number of years his partner at international tournaments was American football coach Tommy Prothro.

Sharif has been a regular in casinos in France.[22]

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."[23]


Sharif with Lebanese actress/singer Cyrine Abdelnour at the Venice film festival (2009)

In 1953, Sharif began his acting career with a role in the Egyptian film, Sira`a Fi al-Wadi, (English, The Blazing Sun or Struggle in the Valley or Fight in the Valley). Numerous Egyptian productions followed. He starred with his wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, in several movies as romantic leads. Others include Ayyamna el helwa (Our Best Days, 1955), La anam (I Don't Sleep, 1958), Sayedat el kasr (Lady of the Castle, 1959) and the Anna Karenina adaptation Nahr el hub (The River of Love, 1961).

Sharif's first English language film was Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, in which he played the role of Sherif Ali. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture, a Most Promising Newcomer award and worldwide fame as the world's leading Arabic actor.[citation needed] Sharif played the title role in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago by David Lean. His decision to star in William Wyler's Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand reportedly angered Egypt's government due to Streisand's support for the state of Israel.

After a decade with infrequent screen work, 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.

In November 2005, he was given a 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 and can only be given out a total of 25 times by Russia's Mosfilm.



  • The Eternal Male (1977)
  • Omar Sharif's Life in Bridge (1983)
  • Omar Sharif talks Bridge (2004)
  • Bridge Deluxe II play with Omar Sharif (Instruction manual)


  1. ^ "Omar Sharif in Saudi Arabia to perform Omra piligrimage". Deutsche Presse-Agentur. January 23, 1995. "Sharif, who comes from a Lebanese-Syrian parentage, converted to Islam in 1955 when he married Egyptian actress Faten Hamama." 
    "Omar Sharif is 70 today". Birmingham Post. October 10, 2002. "Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, 70: Born into a wealthy Lebanese-Egyptian family" 
    "Omar Sharif in bid to promote South African tourism". Agence France Presse. February 06, 1995. "The actor, who is Egyptian-Lebanese descent" 
    "AP Interview: Egyptian-born movie legend credits grandsons' teasing for career rebound". Associated Press. "born as Michel Shalhoub to affluent Christian Lebanese-Syrian parents and later converted to Islam." 
    "Omar Sharif's back". The Toronto Star. September 9, 2003. "He was born Michael Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 10, 1932, the son of a wealthy Lebanese-Egyptian family." 
    "Star Watch". Associated Press. May 19, 1995. "Of Lebanese parentage, he was born Michael Shalhoub in Alexandria and attended college in Cairo." 
    "AP Interview: Egyptian-born movie legend wants to send message in his new movies". Associated Press. October 28, 2005. "born in Alexandria, Egypt as Michel Shalhoub to affluent Christian Lebanese-Syrian parents and later converted to Islam." 
  2. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 71.
  3. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif. Time 5:40. 2007-10-10
  4. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif. Time 10:00. 2007-10-10
  5. ^ Orbit: Cairo Today Interview with Omar Sharif Part 1/5. Time 9:30. 2007-10-10]
  6. ^ Orbit: Cairo Today Interview with Omar Sharif Part 1/5. Time 0:00. 2007-10-10]
  7. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 41.
  8. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., pp. 45-46.
  9. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 46.
  10. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 98.
  11. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif Time. 11:25. 2007-10-10
  12. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif. Time 6:15. 2007-10-10
  13. ^ Sharif, Omar (1977), The Eternal Male: My Own Story, Doubleday, NY, 1st Ed., p. 79.
  14. ^,9171,,00.html "Q&A With Omar Sharif" (December 8, 2003). Rebecca Winters, [[Time (magazine)|]].
  15. ^ Omar Sharif guilty of punch attack
  16. ^ Actor Omar Sharif Says Arab Nations Will Never Be Democratized
  17. ^ Orbit: Cairo Today Interview with Omar Sharif Part 5/5. Time 5:45. 2007-10-10
  18. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif. Time 11:30. 2007-10-10
  19. ^ Al-Jazeerah English: Riz Khan Interview with Omar Sharif. Time 12:50. 2007-10-10
  20. ^ Change of Subject - Observations, reports, tips, referrals and tirades | Chicago Tribune | Blog
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Omar Sharif sued for assault". (November 6, 2005). New Sunday Times, p. 29.
  23. ^ ReelTalk Movie Reviews

External links

Simple English

Omar Sharif
Born Michel Demitri Chalhoub
April 10, 1932 (1932-04-10) (age 78)
Alexandria, Egypt,
Spouse Faten Hamama (1955-1974)

Omar Sharif (Arabic: عمر الشريف) (born April 10, 1932) is an Egyptian actor who has worked in many Hollywood films. He has acted in Arabic, French, and English films. Sharif is most famous for his roles in Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia. He was nominated for the Academy Award and has won the Golden Globe Award three times.

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