Omar Sharif has died at the age of 83. The Egyptian actor, who gained fame for his first English-speaking role in David Lean’s 1962 historical epic Lawrence of Arabia, suffered a heart attack and died in a Cairo hospital on Friday. Earlier this year, he had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sharif appeared in over 70 films and over a dozen television shows from as early as 1954 to as recent as 2008. He appeared in over 20 Egyptian productions before he landed major Hollywood roles in Lawrence of Arabia, 1965’s Doctor Zhivago, and 1968’s Funny Girl. His breakthrough performance in Arabia as Sherif Ali brought him an Oscar nomination and two Golden Globe awards, and he would receive another Golden Globe for Zhivago shortly after.
The actor would go on to play a variety of roles over the years in a number of genres, from westerns (1969’s Mackenna’s Gold), to thrillers (1974’s Juggernaut), to dramas (1974’s The Tamarind Seed), and screwball comedies (1980’s Top Secret!). In his later career, he won over critics and audiences alike with his performance in 2003’s Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran, which won him the Cesar Award for Best Actor.
However, Sharif’s talents weren’t just limited to film. He was once ranked among the world’s best-known contract bridge players, touring countries with his Omar Sharif Bridge Circus, which he established in 1967. This expertise led to a number of books and even licensed video games.
In 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Sharif with the inaugural Sergei Eisenstein Medal, recognizing his significant contributions to film and cultural diversity. To date, only 25 have been named.