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In Memoriam: Omar Sharif

July 17, 2015

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Actor Omar Sharif, known for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, died Friday. According to his agent Steve Kenis, Sharif suffered a heart attack in Cairo, Egypt. He was 83 years old.

Sharif was born Michel Shalhoub in 1932. He changed his name to Omar al-Sharif in 1955 when he converted to Islam. As a young man he started working in the family lumber business then studied in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His film debut came in 1954 with Devil of the Sahara and Siraa Fil-Wadi. This led to many more roles and he became a big star in Egypt and hit international fame with Lawrence in 1962.

After Doctor Zhivago he starred opposite Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and Funny Lady. Other roles include The Last Valley, The Horesmen, Crime and Passion, Bloodline, Top Secret!, The Puppeteer, Gulliverís Travels, The 13th Warrior, Monsieur Ibrahim, Hidalgo, One Night with the King, and his last completed project was Rock the Casbah. He was filming the short 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham when he passed.

In addition to his acting prowess, Sharif was noted for his good looks, Egyptian accent, and debonair persona. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Lawrence of Arabia and won a Golden Globe for Doctor Zhivago. Along with acting he was an expert player of the card game bridge. He spent most of his later years in Cairo and at the Royal Moncean Hotel in Paris.

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