By nicolas genin from Paris, France (66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By nicolas genin from Paris, France (66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Omar Sharif, the Egyptian-born actor best remembered for the blockbusters “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” died of a heart attack at a Cairo hospital Friday, Egyptian state television reported. He was 83.

Sharif, who was a contract bridge champion, also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Tarek, announced in May.

Born Michel Shalhoub to a wealthy family in Alexandria on April 10, 1932, Sharif studied mathematics and physics at a university in Cairo — the period when he is supposed to have become interested in acting. But he worked in his family’s timber business for years before landing a role in an Egyptian movie, “The Blazing Sun,” in 1954 opposite Egyptian star Faten Hamama.

A Greek Catholic, Sharif converted to Islam and married Hamama in 1955. They divorced in 1974, and Sharif never remarried.

Sharif’s work in “Lawrence of Arabia” earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. He appeared in several other films before starring in  “Doctor Zhivago” and later played a Jewish gambler in “Funny Girl” opposite Barbra Streisand.

—City News Service

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