Ex- antiquities minister and renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who was one of Sharif’s close friends, confirmed the death of the legendary actor.
Sharif, who was born in Egypt and starred in Dr Zhivago with Julie Christie, had Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by Tarek El-Sharif, his only son from his ex-wife Faten Hamama (who passed earlier this year in January). He was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
The film brought him a supporting-actor Oscar nomination and worldwide stardom.
Sharif made his film debut in the 1954 Egyptian production “The Blazing Sun” opposite Hamama. In 1965, he played the title character in David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago”.
Sharif was married once, divorcing in 1974 after ten years.
Sharif developed an affinity for acting at an English-style private school in Cairo modeled on Eton.
He said the actor mistook fans for people he used to know. He also co-starred with Barbara Streisand in the hit 1968 musical amusing Girl and its 1975 sequel amusing Lady, and played Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1969’s Che! . His casting in amusing Girl resulted in a few controversy because at the time, the Six Day War between Israel and Arab countries, including Egypt, was taking place. During this period he was featured in more than 100 movies and TV series. For his 2003 role as an elderly Muslim shopkeeper in the French film “Monsieur Ibrahim“, he won the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival. Sharif was also an avid bridge player, becoming world-class in the game and even penning a newspaper column about bridge.
He said that Mr Sharif was so sweet to go out with, and especially enjoyed going to his favourite restaurant in Paris, beside the Arc de Triomphe.
“I decided I didn’t want to be a slave to any passion any more except for my work”, he said in 2006.
His favorite pass activities included contract bridge and gambling. “He went around my head, to see the profiles, to see what kind of hair I have, what face I have”.