ADC Remembers Omar Sharif, Legendary Arab Actor and ADC Lifetime Achievement Awardee


American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
ADC Remembers Omar Sharif, Legendary Arab Actor and ADC Lifetime Achievement Awardee

Washington, DC | | July 10, 2015 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)  offers its condolences to the family and friends of legendary Arab actor Omar Sharif, who passed away today after suffering a heart attack in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt.  He was 83 years old, and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease earlier this year. ADC remembers Omar Sharif as a groundbreaking Arab actor and recipient of the ADC Lifetime Achievement Award.

ADC presented Sharif with the ADC Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual ADC National Convention in 2006. For two successive evenings, Sharif charmed the audience with humorous anecdotes from his childhood in Egypt, and spoke about his experiences as an actor in Hollywood and as a prominent Arab in international circles. He championed ADC’s work and encouraged a chapter to protect the civil rights of millions of North African immigrants in France, where he resided prior to his death.

Sharif was best known for his roles in classic Hollywood films “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Doctor Zhivago,” for which he won a Golden Globe.  He starred in numerous Egyptian films dating back to his debut in the 1950s. He won 3 Golden Globes, the UNESCO Sergei Eisenstein Medal, and a Career Golden Lion during his career, and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Lawrence of Arabia.” He was also once ranked among the world’s best-known contract bridge players, forming the “Omar Sharif Bridge Circus” in 1967.

Omar Sharif was born Michel Demetri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt. He graduated from Cairo University with degrees in mathematics and physics, worked at his father’s lumber business, and then went on to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In the 1950s he began acting under the name of Omar El-Sharif, and quickly rose to stardom in Egyptian cinema. He landed his first screen role in Youssef Chahine’s Siraa Fil-Wadi (“The Blazing Sun”), presented at Cannes in 1954, and became a Hollywood star only eight years later in the multiple Oscar winning film “Lawrence of Arabia.” 

Omar Sharif is survived by his son, Tarek El-Sharif and grandson, Omar El-Sharif Jr., who is also an actor and director. His legacy in Egyptian cinema and the international Arab community will live on through his extraordinary contributions as an actor, orator, and cultural icon.

Click here to watch Omar Sharif speak at the 2006 ADC Convention. 

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