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Movies: “Lawrence of Arabia”

Jan. 14, 1963 - Omar Sharif (pictured left with David Lean), Egyptian film idol of the Middle East, is seen by American audiences for the first time as a key performer in “Lawrence of Arabia,” now playing in theaters nationwide. Besides giving a stellar performance as Ali, friend of T.E. Lawrence, Sharif doubled as interpreter for director David Lean during filming of the desert battle scenes. Before each scene, Sharif would explain the action in Arabic to the 1,600 Bedouin tribesmen taking part, and after each take the tribesmen would cluster around Sharif seeking approval. “Azim! Azim! (Just great!)” he would assure them. Sharif, whose adopted surname means "noble" or “nobleman,” was born Michael Yusef Dimitri Chalhoub in Alexandria, a Mediterranean port city in Egypt. His family moved to Cairo when he was four. His mother, Claire Saada, was a noted society hostess, and Egypt’s King Farouk was a regular visitor. Sharif later graduated from Cairo University with a degree in mathematics and physics. He worked for a while in his father's wood business before beginning his acting career in Egypt. In 1955, he named himself Omar Sharif.


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