LONDON â€” Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif, who rose to worldwide fame as the star of Doctor Zhivago, died on Friday in Cairo aged 83, his London-based agent said.
“He died this afternoon of a heart attack in Cairo,” Steve Kenis told AFP, adding that the actor had been in a hospital for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sharif was also a top-ranked contract bridge player, high-stakes gambler and racehorse owner. At the height of his fame, in the 1960s and â€™70s, he was a playboy, jetting between movie sets and bridge tournaments, leaving broken hearts in his wake.
He was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. British director David Lean plucked him from Egyptian cinema for Sharif’s first English-language role.
In 1962, entertainment columnist Dorothy Kilgallen called him “the greatest lure for female fans since Rudolph Valentino”.
Three years later, Lean again directed Sharif in the title role in Doctor Zhivago. The film won five Oscars. Sharif wasnâ€™t nominated, though he won a Golden Globe in Boris Pasternakâ€™s romantic saga, set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.
Sharif also appeared in Funny Girl, Che! and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, among other films.
The remainder of Sharifâ€™s career played out as an anticlimax, the once-promising star cast in a series of increasingly small roles in less ambitious movies. – AP