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FILMARTICLE

Omar Sharif, Star of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, Dead at 83

Sad news for all movie lovers, but especially Old Hollywood aficionados: Omar Sharif, the Oscar-nominated star of the beloved ’60s epics Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965), passed away this morning, at the age of 83. Per his longtime agent, Steven Kenis, Sharif “died of a heart attack in his hotel room,” after a battle against Alzheimer’s.

To put Sharif’s legacy into context, it wouldn’t be false to call him the “Marlon Brando of Egypt.” After making his debut in the 1954 Egyptian film Siraa Fil-Wadi, Sharif parlayed that role into 26 subsequent Egyptian films all before director David Lean cast him as Sherif Ali, a scene-stealing character who aids the titular Lawrence (played by Peter O’Toole) in fighting the Turks in Lean’s World War I masterwork. Lawrence of Arabia led to Sharif’s Academy Award nomination and turned him into a serious Hollywood player.

That momentum carried over into Doctor Zhivago, in which Sharif plays the doctor himself and romances Julie Christie amidst the Russian Revolution. The film, a massive undertaking that took 13 months to shoot in Spain, was an enormous box office smash in 1965, grossing $112 million, which, after inflation adjustments, tallies at $1.03 billion in today’s bucks. Sharif continued to break hearts in Funny Girl, the romantic musical in which he shared top billing with Barbara Streisand and helped Streisand win the Best Actress award she co-owned with fellow winner Katharine Hepburn (hers for The Lion in Winter in 1968.

In honor of the late, great Sharif, spend some time today watching a few of his greatest acting moments in the below clips. You’d also be wise to rent both Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago to sit with them in their entireties—you’ll be taken aback by how greatly they both hold up, 50 years later, and how much fuller they are than most of today’s Hollywood blockbusters.

Two scenes from Lawrence of Arabia, including Sherif Ali's now-iconic on-screen introduction:

A scene from Doctor Zhivago:

A scene from Funny Girl:

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