Omar Sharif life and biography

Omar Sharif picture, image, poster

Omar Sharif biography

Date of birth : 1932-04-10
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Alexandria, Egypt
Nationality : Egyptian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-04-02
Credited as : famous egyptian actor, Doctor Zhivago, Barbra Streisand

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Omar Sharif (born Michael Demitri Shalhoub) 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 3 Golden Globe Awards.

Omar graduated from Alexandria's Victoria College, then from Cairo University with a mathematics and physics major. Afterwards, he worked with his father in the lumber business. Their business was less than successful following the investment of a large amount of capital in an endeavor to revitalize papyrus as a viable commodity.

Personal life

Raised a Catholic, he converted to Islam to marry renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamama in 1955 and took the name Omar al-Sharif. The marriage lasted almost 20 years and ended in 1974, producing one child Tarek Sharif (b. 1957), who appeared in "Doctor Zhivago" as Yuri at the age of 8. Rumours that Sharif would have married actress Sohair Ramzi in 1977, have turned out to be untrue. In fact, to date (2007) he has not remarried but his attempt to restore his relationship with ex-wife Faten Hamama after returning to Egypt failed.. Sharif was once romantically linked to his "Funny Girl" co-star, Barbra Streisand.

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

Sharif underwent a triple bypass surgery in 1992, and suffered a mild heart attack in 1994. Until his bypass, Sharif smoked 50 cigarettes a day; after the surgery, he quit easily.

In a Dallas hotel in 1970, Sharif said an intoxicated woman entered his room and demanded, at gunpoint, that he 'make love to her'. The actor said the circumstances did not endow him for the act, and the woman left cursing him, claiming he was a fraud.

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 also fined $1700 and ordered to pay the officer $340 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.) On February 13 2007 Sharif was 'found guilty of assaulting a Beverly Hills parking lot attendant and breaking his nose'.


In 1953, Sharif began his acting career with a role in the Egyptian film, "Sira` 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 ex-wife, 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 where he played the role of Sherif Ali. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and worldwide fame as the world's leading Franco Arabic actor. Sharif also played the title role in the 1965 film, "Doctor Zhivago" by David Lean. After a period in which he made headlines more for being a professional bridge player than an actor, he made a comeback in 2003 with the film adaptation of the novel "Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran".

In November 2005, he was honored with 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.

Sharif is to once more team with his co-star from Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O'Toole in 'Gilgamesh' by Stonelock Pictures. This epic, about the ancient land, now called Iraq, and its rulers, also stars some of Europe and Egypt's leading actors.


Sharif, once among the world's best known contract bridge players, co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune 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. For a number of years his partner at international tournaments was American football coach Tommy Prothro.

Sharif has also been a regular in casinos in France, where he once assaulted a casino employee after losing thousands of dollars on a single roulette bet.

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.'

Latest films made

10,000 BC - 2008
Hanan W Haneen (TV Series - Egypt) - 2007
The Ten Commandments (TV series) - 2007
One Night with the King - 2006
St. Peter - 2005
Fuoco su di me - 2005
Shaka Zulu: The Last Great Warrior - 2005
Hidalgo - 2004
Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran - 2003
The Parole Officer - 2001

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