He’s been on my mind lately. One of the sadder phenomena of aging is that when you get close to fifty, all the stars of your youth begin to pass away. Omar Sharif was a Hollywood supernova. I only know a few of his films, but investigating his work, I find myself amazed all over again at his beauty, and the many stunning women with whom he was paired over a long career.
Appropriately for a native of that cosmopolitan country Egypt, Sharif spoke six languages and made movies all over the world. His last work was the narration for a short film about Arabian scientific pioneer Ibn Al-Haytham (2015). And the last thing I remember him in is Hidalgo (2004) with Viggo Mortensen (mmmmm…) where he played the connoisseur of Arabian horses, Sheikh Riyadh.
Sharif was known as a lover of women, and he had many affairs but only one great love and one wife, the Egyptian film star Faten Hamama. She died in January of this year.
Besides Zhivago, I remember Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia as Sherif Ali, the leader of the Harith, who represents the Arab desire for nationhood. He was based on a character who appeared in T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
He also had a great role as Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl (1968) with Barbra Streisand (the two are said to have had an affair while filming).
And these are the films I’d like to see but haven’t…
Actor Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones (Oberyn Martell) reminds me of the young Omar. Not quite as handsome, but there is a definite resemblance.
Finally, I’ve not seen The Tamarind Seed, a Blake Edwards spy drama in which Sharif starred with Julie Andrews. He played a Soviet military attaché who has an affair with Andrews’ character, who works in the British Home Office.
I have not seen the last of you, Beautiful Man. Thanks for giving me so much to look forward to.