Fri Jul 10, 2015 10:23PM
A file picture taken on September 10, 2009 shows Egyptian film legend Omar Sharif posing during the photocall of "Al Mosafer" (The Traveler) at the Venice film festival. (AFP)
A file picture taken on September 10, 2009 shows Egyptian film legend Omar Sharif posing during the photocall of "Al Mosafer" (The Traveler) at the Venice film festival. (AFP)

Renowned Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, best known for his role in classic flicks such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and "Doctor Zhivago", has died at the age of 83 at a hospital in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

According to Steve Kenis, Sharif’s agent, the legendary actor suffered “a heart attack” on Friday afternoon in an upmarket clinic in Cairo, where he had been under treatment for his Alzheimer's disease for the last month.

Sharif was born on April 10, 1932, as Michel Demetri Chalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Christian family of Syrian-Lebanese decent. He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Cairo and later on studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1955, he converted to Islam and married Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.

Sharif started his acting career in Egypt in 1954 with a role in “Sira Fi al-Wadi” (also known as Fight in the Valley or The Blazing Sun), which was followed by 11 more films and rapidly gained fame in his own country.

Omar Sharif (R) with Peter O’Toole in a scene of 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia”

But his big break came when David Lean cast him in the epic classic film “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962 to play a supporting role opposite Peter O’Toole, the leading actor. This film raised Sharif to international stardom and earned him two Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor and New Star of the Year and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Omar Sharif in a scene of 1965 film “Doctor Zhivago”

Sharif, who is also remembered for his memorable role in “Doctor Zhivago” (1965), for which he earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, appeared in 60 films and over a dozen television shows, most of them shot In the United States and United Kingdom. He was active in his career till 2013, though from the late 1990s he began declining film offers.

In November 2005, he was awarded the inaugural Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity.

In May this year, Kenis confirmed Sharif had been diagnosed with the chronic disease.

Omar Sharif (L) with Antonio Banderas in a scene of 1999 film “The 13th Warrior”