Friday, July 10, 2015

Omar Sharif 1932-2015

Actor Omar Sharif has passed away at 83. 

Born in Alexandria, Egypt as Michel Demetri Chalhoub, Omar Sharif was schooled at the University of Cairo where he obtained a degree in mathematics and physics before working for his father in precious wood…and later studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. His early acting earned him roles and praise in Egyptian film productions, which included LA ANAM (1958), and the Anna Karenina adaptation NAHR EL HUB in 1961. 

Sharif would explode onto the worldwide stage in his first English-speaking role when he appeared as Sharif Ali in what is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 1962. Sharif would hold his own against his co-stars; fellow future-legends Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn, and Alec Guinness,…and would earn a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. He would also earn a lifelong friendship with O’Toole. After that breakthrough role, Sharif would expand his skills by playing a variety of ethnic characters; a Spanish priest in BEHOLD A PALE HORSE (1964), a Yugoslave wartime pilot in THE YELLOW ROLLS-ROYCE (1964), and the Mongolian warrior in GENGHIS KHAN (1965). He would reunite with David Lean to play the title role in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965), and would win the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

His impressive list of credits through the years would include FUNNY LADY (1975), MACKENNA’S GOLD (1969), THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (1976), and the spy-spoof TOP SECRET! (1980). In his later years he worked less and less but still turned in memorable performances in THE 13TH WARRIOR (1999), MONSIEUR IBRAHIM (2003), and HIDALGO (2004). His final film role was in ROCK THE CASBAH in 2013. 

In 1999, Omar Sharif appeared in the critically slammed and box office bust THE 13TH WARRIOR alongside Antonio Banderas. The poor reception with critics and at the gate disappointed Sharif so much, that he temporarily retired from acting and would not return until 2003. At the time, his announced retirement was a disappointment for cinema, as his diverse acting skills and dark features made him a formidable and memorable character every time he appeared on screen. His return, as brief as it was, was a welcome one…and this final exit certainly leaves a void. His passing represents another departure of one of our final connections to the great LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and to the Golden Age of Hollywood, as there are not many actors left among us who can claim that they starred in one of the best films of all time. Omar Sharif will always have a legacy of riding with the best. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.