Omar Sharif

D.O.B: Apr 10, 1932 | Alexandria, Egypt

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Omar Sharif, the Franco-Arabic actor best known for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the title role in Doctor Zhivago (1965), was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt to Joseph Shalhoub, a lumber merchant, and his wife, Claire. Of Lebanese and Syrian extraction, the young Michel was raised a Roman Catholic.

Biography

Omar Sharif, the Franco-Arabic actor best known for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the title role in Doctor Zhivago (1965), was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt to Joseph Shalhoub, a lumber merchant, and his wife, Claire. Of Lebanese and Syrian extraction, the young Michel was raised a Roman Catholic. He was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria and took a degree in mathematics and physics from Cairo University with a major. Afterward graduating from university, he entered the family lumber business. Before making his English-language film debut with Lawrence of Arabia, for which he earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination and international fame, Sharif became a star in Egyptian cinema. His first movie was the Egyptian film Siraa Fil-Wadi (1954) (The Blazing Sun) in 1953, opposite the renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamama whom he married in 1955. He converted to Islam to marry Hamama and took the name Omar al-Sharif. The couple had one child (Tarek Sharif, who was born in 1957 and portrayed the young Zhivago in the eponymous picture) and divorced in 1974. Sharif never remarried. Beginning in the 1960s, Sharif earned a reputation as one of the worlds best known contract bridge players. In the 1970s and 80s, he co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune. Sharif also wrote several books on bridge and has licensed his name to a bridge computer game, Omar Sharif Bridge, which has been marketed since 1992.