Omar Sharif

Introduction: Who was Omar Sharif?

Omar Sharif was an Egyptian actor who gained international fame for his roles in classic films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.” He was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1932 and began his acting career in the 1950s, starring in several Egyptian films before making his way to Hollywood. Sharif was not only a talented actor but also a skilled bridge player and author. Despite his success, Sharif’s personal life was marked by tragedy and controversy.

From Lawrence of Arabia to Doctor Zhivago: Omar Sharif’s Most Memorable Roles

Omar Sharif

“Lawrence of Arabia”

Sharif’s breakout role came in 1962 when he played Sherif Ali in the epic film “Lawrence of Arabia.” The film, directed by David Lean, tells the story of T.E. Lawrence’s experiences in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. Sharif’s portrayal of Sherif Ali earned him critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The film went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

“Doctor Zhivago”

Sharif’s next major role came in 1965 when he played the title character in “Doctor Zhivago,” another David Lean film. The movie, based on the novel by Boris Pasternak, tells the story of a physician and poet during the Russian Revolution. Sharif’s performance as Yuri Zhivago earned him another Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The film was also a commercial success, grossing over $111 million worldwide.

“Funny Girl”

In 1968, Sharif starred opposite Barbra Streisand in the musical film “Funny Girl.” Although he was not the lead, Sharif’s portrayal of Nick Arnstein, a suave gambler, earned him a third Golden Globe nomination. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning eight Academy Award nominations and winning one for Best Actress (Streisand).

Behind the Scenes: Little-Known Facts about Omar Sharif

Sharif’s Real Name

Contrary to popular belief, Omar Sharif was not his real name. He was born Michel Dimitri Chalhoub and changed his name when he began his acting career.

Sharif’s Son

Sharif had one son, Tarek, with his first wife, Faten Hamama. Tarek was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early 20s and Sharif devoted much of his time and resources to caring for him. Tarek passed away in 2015 at the age of 59.

Sharif’s Cause of Death

Sharif passed away in 2015 at the age of 83 from a heart attack. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years prior to his death.

Legacy: Remembering Omar Sharif’s Contributions to Film and Literature


Sharif was an accomplished bridge player and even wrote a syndicated column on the subject. He also authored several books on the game, including “Omar Sharif Talks Bridge” and “Play Bridge with Omar Sharif.”

Arab Representation in Film

Sharif was proud of his Arab heritage and often spoke out about the need for better representation of Arabs in film. He believed that Hollywood often portrayed Arabs in a negative light and sought to change that through his own work.

International Icon

Sharif’s contributions to film and literature have made him an international icon. He will always be remembered for his captivating performances and his dedication to his craft.

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