Omar Sharif Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (25)  | Personal Quotes (27)  | Salary (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Alexandria, Egypt
Died in Cairo, Egypt  (heart attack)
Birth NameMichel Demetri Shalhoub
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor best known for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the title role in Doctor Zhivago (1965), was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt to Joseph Shalhoub, a lumber merchant, and his wife, Claire (Saada). Of Lebanese and Syrian extraction, the young Michel was raised Catholic. He was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria and took a degree in mathematics and physics from Cairo University with a major. Afterward graduating from university, he entered the family lumber business.

Before making his English-language film debut with "Lawrence of Arabia", for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination and international fame, Sharif became a star in Egyptian cinema. His first movie was the Egyptian film The Blazing Sun (1954) ("The Blazing Sun") in 1953, opposite the renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamamah whom he married in 1955. He converted to Islam to marry Hamama and took the name Omar al-Sharif. The couple had one child (Tarek Sharif, who was born in 1957 and portrayed the young Zhivago in the eponymous picture) and divorced in 1974. Sharif never remarried.

Beginning in the 1960s, Sharif earned a reputation as one of the world's best known contract bridge players. In the 1970s and 1980s, he co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune. Sharif also wrote several books on bridge and has licensed his name to a bridge computer game, "Omar Sharif Bridge", which has been marketed since 1992. Sharif told the press in 2006 that he no longer played bridge, explaining, "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.".

As an actor, Sharif had made a comeback in 2003 playing the title role of an elderly Muslim shopkeeper in the French film Monsieur Ibrahim (2003). For his performance, he won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Best Actor César, France's equivalent of the Oscar, from the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2012, Sharif died of a heart attack on July 10, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Faten Hamamah (5 February 1955 - 1974) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (25)

Of Lebanese/Syrian descent, he resided in Egypt most of his life. Fluent in Arabic, English, French, Greek, Italian and Spanish, he graduated from Cairo University in 1963 with a joint degree in mathematics and physics. He wanted to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) but, shortly before he was to travel to London, a producer saw him and offered him the leading role in The Blazing Sun (1954), Sharif's first film.
A world-class bridge player, he was known to anticipate or postpone shootings in order to be able to attend major bridge events. He authored and co-authored several books and a weekly syndicated column on the game of bridge and licensed his name to a bridge computer game.
Underwent triple bypass surgery (1992), and suffered a mild heart attack (1994). Until his bypass, Sharif smoked 100 cigarettes a day; he quit easily after the operation.
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1990.
Ordered by a US court in Beverly Hills, California to take an anger management course for punching a parking attendant who refused to accept his European currency on 11 June 2005. Sharif was not present for the hearing (13 February 2007).
As of 2009, he is only one of six performers who won a Golden Globe Award as Best Lead Actor/Actress in a Motion Picture Drama without being nominated for an Oscar for that same role (his for Doctor Zhivago (1965)). The others are Spencer Tracy in The Actress (1953), Anthony Franciosa in Career (1959), Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka (1988), Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (1998) and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road (2008).
His autobiography 'L'Éternel Masculin" was published in France in 1976 and in America the following year as "The Eternal Male".
In 1969, Sharif was named to star in a musical biography on Rudolph Valentino that director Mike Frankovich was preparing but which did not materialize.
Received one-month suspended prison sentence for striking a police officer in a suburban-Paris casino in July 2003. Was also fined $1,700 and ordered to pay the officer $340 in damages, for insulting and then head-butting the Pontoise policeman, who tried to intervene in an argument between the actor and a roulette croupier. [August 2003]
Sharif stated in an interview on Egyptian television that his former wife, Faten Hamamah, the only woman he ever married, was his only true love. He was the father of Tarek Sharif and grandfather of Omar Sharif Jr..
Was close friends with Peter O'Toole, who nicknamed him "Freddy" on the set of Lawrence of Arabia (1962), because "no one could possibly be called Omar Sharif".
Born the same day as Delphine Seyrig.
When Omar Sharif signed on with Sam Spiegel to do Lawrence of Arabia (1962), it was a seven picture deal at $15,000 per film, which the producer convinced him was the standard rate at the time. The others were Doctor Zhivago (1965), Behold a Pale Horse (1964), The Night of the Generals (1967), Genghis Khan (1965), Mackenna's Gold (1969) and Funny Girl (1968).
Served in Egypt's militia during the 1956 Suez crisis but considered the idea of actually using his rifle absurd as the enemy would simply level the apartment block he lived in with their return fire. Was later interviewed by British chat show host Michael Parkinson who had served with the British Army on the other side of the conflict, the pair comparing their memories of the events.
In an interview (sometime between 2007-09) in his native Egypt that he considered Che! (1969) to be one of his worst movies.
Bollywood movie star Dilip Kumar was initially offered the role of Sherif Ali. He declined the role after which David Lean offered it to Omar Sharif which subsequently catapulted him onto the world scene. Sharif was supposed to play the role of Tafas who is shot by Sherif Ali in his introductory desert sequence.
His Egyptian citizenship was almost withdrawn by the Nasser regime because of his public affair with Jewish actress Barbra Streisand, who was strongly supporting Israel in its Six Day War against Egypt.
The first time he went to the United States was for the film premiere of Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The night before the opening Peter O'Toole took him to see Lenny Bruce in a show, after which they went backstage to see Bruce then went out for drinks. After a while Bruce said he had to go home for a few minutes so they accompanied him. While Bruce was giving himself a drug injection the police broke in and arrested them all. At the police station , Sharif asked to make a phone call and rang producer Sam Spiegel who eventually managed to get them released.
Had appeared with James Mason in four films: The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Genghis Khan (1965), Mayerling (1968) and Bloodline (1979).
Had appeared with Anthony Quayle four films: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Mackenna's Gold (1969) and The Tamarind Seed (1974).
Was in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Funny Girl (1968), with the first of these the only winner.
His mother was a professional gambler, ranked with King Faroukh as one of the most daring players. Omar inherited his love of gambling from his mother playing in international bridge tournaments and in the '64 and 68 Olympic tournaments.
Made his home in a large apartment built for him on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
One of his main passions was horse racing and he bred horses for the sport.
His son Tarek was born in 1957.

Personal Quotes (27)

I definitely want to do more theatre now. Or, two weeks in a film for a remarkable amount of money.
I'd rather be playing bridge than making a bad movie.
It made me the hero of the whole of France. To head-butt a cop is the dream of every Frenchman.
Aggressive feminists scare me.
[on Peter O'Toole] The very prototype of the ham.
[interview with Diane Saenger, 2006] I've stopped [playing bridge] 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.
I lived in America for a long time. Only ten per cent of all Americans have a passport. In other words, ninety per cent never left America. They don't know anything. The typical Middle Eastern man is far more intelligent.
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.
I stopped making movies because for the last twenty five years I've been making a lot of rubbish because I was in debt all the time. You know I used to gamble quite a bit and then I was always broke. I was always one film behind my debts and so at some point you know I had to work all the time to support my family and myself and all my expensive tastes and then I decided that it became ridiculous at some point. It got to the stage where my own grandchildren use to make fun of my films, which is very serious. They used to say, the previous one was terrible grandfather but this one is even worse so I decided it was time to stop and keep some dignity, especially vis a vis my grandchildren and so I decided to wait for something decent to come - something that I'd like, that I would feel enthusiastic about.
I was a lonely man living out of suitcases in hotels and when you arrive in a new place and you don't know anyone, the only place where you can go if you're a well known person to have dinner alone is a casino. You go to the casino, have dinner by yourself, no one criticizes you and then you play a little bit to give yourself some emotion to fight the boredom of being by yourself, get some excitement. That's all.
[final sentence in his autobiography] Actually, I want today to be like yesterday... Is that asking too much?
When one sees what happens in the world between the religions, the different religions - killing each other and murdering each other, it's disgusting and as far as I am concerned it's ridiculous. So I thought I might be useful, I believe in God and I believe in religion, but believe religions should belong to you. The extraordinary thing is that the Jews believe that only the Jews can go to paradise, the Christians believe that only a Christian can go to paradise and the Muslims believe that only the Muslims can go to paradise. Now why should God, in His great justice, make somebody born that cannot go to paradise - it is absurd. Please forgive me I don't mean to say it's absurd, people made it absurd.
Every moment is like that for me now and that is how it should be. To live well at my age you always have to think about concentrating your attention on the moment that is now and the moment you are living because you don't know how much longer you may live.
[on being the "only Arab" working in Hollywood] I had to be very careful. For example, Columbia Pictures signed a five-year contract with me when I had made Lawrence of Arabia (1962) but they didn't pay me anything.
When I made Doctor Zhivago (1965) they sold me to MGM for $15,000. I made the film for $15,000. My American lawyer said 'I can sue them', and I said no, leave it, I don't want them to think of me as someone who only wants money.
I had a couple of adventures with women, but not the great love. I had a great love once with my wife (Faten Hamama) that has to be said.
Since 1966, I have never lived with a woman, I have only lived in hotels and eaten in restaurants. Mine was a very happy life, I am not complaining.
I lived very humbly, in fear, I accepted the films they wanted me to do and even films I didn't want to do and I didn't like because I was afraid of saying no.
[in his 1977 autobiography] I might as well say it; the United States disconcerted me. Especially its women... And, yet, they weren't at fault. I found America disconcerting because it was unlike any country. It represented a world in which I was out beyond my depth. I learned to think and to live in a certain way among people who had much in common... And then all of a sudden, I'd been transported into a world in which everything was foreign: its emotions, sympathy, weaknesses, ideals, vices, envies, malice. America had its own values... I watched its way of being, its way of living, and I failed to understand. The self-confidence, superiority, and independence of the women... These women are different from the ones I'd known... In my country women are dependent. They blush. And I like that; I'm used to that... Curiously enough, American women don't blush. Was I to blame? I was a Europeanized Middle Eastern man. It was asking a lot to make me an Americanized Middle Eastern man as well. Asking too much perhaps.
[on sex] Making love? It's communion with a woman. The bed is our holy table. There I find passion and purification.
[on Barbra Streisand] I thought she was not very attractive at first. But gradually she cast her spell over me. I fell madly in love with her talent. The feeling was mutual for four months - the time it took to shoot the movie.
[on his prowess as a lover] See these hands? They are old. But they are soft. Only good for caressing.
[on Che! (1969)] I wasn't satisfied with it. It was very awful because it was a movie about a very important figure in socialism and communism, and it was produced by the CIA. I didn't know and I wasn't aware of that. I had put a condition with them that this movie wouldn't offend the reputation of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.
[on being cast by David Lean in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)] They chose me for Lawrence of Arabia (1962) because I spoke English, had black hair, black eyes and a mustache. It was all luck. I was taken in a plane to the desert to meet David, and as we came in to land we could see him sitting all by himself. We landed right next to him, but he didn't move one step. When I got off the plane, he didn't say 'hello'. He simply walked round me to see my profile. Finally, he said "That's very good, Omar. Let's go to the make-up tent." I tried on a mustache, and it was decided I would grow one. I've shaved it off for a couple of films, but otherwise I've had it ever since.
[on his favorite movies] I don't watch any films. Billy Elliot (2000) is the only film I've seen in the last 25 years. Oh, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Both of which I loved!
I don't know what women are attracted to. I can't tell, but certainly I have no notion of having sex appeal or being seductive in any way.
[on David Lean] He hated actors. I'll tell you that. He was interested in the film itself. His work was about making the film. He took actors - he didn't like them or love them or anything, he just thought: "This one will do for this part." When he took me from Egypt, he didn't know me. He just said: "I want an Arab person to play this Laurence of Arabia thing. I want a real Arab who speaks English." All this happened because I had been to an English school in Cairo, so he called me and I went to the desert and he loved me. He actually liked me very much. I was one of the only actors he actually liked, in all his life. He hated them.

Salary (5)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) £8,000
Genghis Khan (1965) $25,000
Doctor Zhivago (1965) £8,000
Funny Girl (1968) £8,000
Mayerling (1968) $400,000

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