Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

Posted July 10, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

News broke today that celebrated actor Omar Sharif passed away July 10, 2015 at the age of 83. Known for his roles in Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif was a Hollywood legend.

In honor of his memory, here are some things you may not have known about the international star:

Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

1. He was born Michel Demetri Chalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 1932. In 1955, he changed his name after marring his co-star Faten Hamama. Raised Catholic, Sharif converted to Islam to marry her and took the surname Sharif, which means “noble” in Arabic. They had one son and divorced in 1974. Sharif never married again.

2. He is of Syrian and Lebanese descent. His father was a precious-wood merchant originally from Zahle, Lebanon and settled in Egypt in the early 20th century.

3. Sharif received a degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Cairo. After college, he worked with his father before heading to London to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

4. Sharif was already a star in Egypt when he was cast in his first English-language film, Lawrence of Arabia. The film became a huge success and made Sharif an international star. His performance earned him his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

5. He once ranked among the world’s best known bridge players. In 1967, he formed the “Omar Sharif Bridge Circus,” which toured the world competing against other bridge teams. He’s even authored books on the game and has a computer game named after him.

Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

6. His son, Tarek, was cast in Doctor Zhivago at the age of eight. He played a young version of Sharif’s character Yuri Zhivago. The film is generally considered to be Sharif’s greatest achievement.

Remembering Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif

7. Controversy surrounded the production of Funny Girl. Israel and Egypt were in a state of war at the time and Barbra Streisand had been a vocal supporter of Israel. When publicity photos of Sharif and Streisand were released, the Egyptian press called for Sharif’s citizenship to be revoked. Although the film was banned in Egypt, in the end, the movie became a huge hit and earned Streisand an Oscar.

8. He once said, “My philosophy of life is that I’m living every moment intensely, as if it were the last moment.”

RIP Omar Sharif.

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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