Legendary actor Omar Sharif dead at 83

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omar-sharif.jpgOmar Sharif, the dashing, Egyptian-born actor who was one of the biggest movie stars in the world in the 1960s, with memorable roles in Dr. Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and Funny Girl, has died. He was 83.

Sharif suffered a heart attack on Friday afternoon in a hospital in Cairo, his agent said.

It was announced in May 2015 that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

With the global success of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole, in 1962, Sharif became the first Arab actor to achieve worldwide fame, thanks to his charismatic presence in the epic film - and the Oscar nomination he drew because of it.

In its wake he very quickly became a busy Hollywood actor: Sharif made three films in 1964, including Behold a Pale Horse and The Yellow Rolls Royce, and three in 1965, including his first lead role in an English-language production, as the title character in Lean's Dr. Zhivago," for which he won a Golden Globe.

Thanks to his gentle continental accent and dark but hard-to-place good looks, the actor was not ethnically typecast: In "Behold a Pale Horse" he played a Spaniard, in "Zhivago" a Russian, in "Genghis Khan" a Mongol, in "Funny Girl" a New York Jewish gambler and in "The Night of the Generals," a German major during WWII.

Nevertheless, there was no little controversy about his role in "Funny Girl": When 1967's Six Day War between Israel and Arab countries including Egypt occurred, Columbia execs considered replacing Sharif; later, when a still depicting a love scene between the actor and Barbra Streisand was published, the Egyptian press began a movement to revoke Sharif's citizenship.

 

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