Google is paying tribute to legendary actor Sharif, who was 83 years old when he died after suffering a heart attack in 2015. Sharif, who had a son with his spouse and actress Faten Hamama, also appeared in films such as Funny Girl, Doctor Zhivago and Genghis Khan. Sharif is the grandfather of actor and model Omar Sharif Jr.
Omar Sharif’s animated Google Doodle was created by Sophie Diao and is meant to show the actor in “true dashing form,” Google says.
5 Things to Know About the Hollywood Icon Omar Sharif
1. Omar Sharif was born Michel Shalhoub
Sharif was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1932, with the given name Michel Demitri Shalhoub. Before becoming an actor, Sharif worked for his father’s lumber company and studied mathematics and physics at Cairo’s Victoria College, the Telegraph reports.
2. Omar Sharif had a successful film career in Egypt
Before he made his legendary Hollywood entrance in Lawrence of Arabia — starting as a tiny speck on the horizon before galloping into focus on the back of a camel — Sharif appeared in Egyptian films including Struggle in the Valley, A Rumor of Love and There Is a Man In Our House. Sharif parlayed his 1962 appearance in Lawrence of Arabia into a thriving international film career.
3. Sharif met his wife on a movie set
Omar Sharif met his spouse on the set of 1954’s Struggle in the Valley and married her shortly thereafter, according to the Guardian. Sharif converted to Islam so that they could be married, and the union lasted 20 years and several more co-starring roles, the Telegraph reports.
The couple divorced in 1974 because of the strain of fame, Sharif said. “It’s not that we stopped loving, it’s that life separated us,” Sharif said in 2001, according to the Telegraph. “After I became famous in the West, I just didn’t see enough of her. She was a famous actress in Egypt, and I was living all over the place, in hotels, not seeing her. And I was afraid that I’d fall in love with some dizzy blonde and leave my beloved wife for her.”
4. Sharif received the first UNESCO Einstein Medal
UNESCO’s Sergei Eisenstein Medal is given to “deserving individuals from the world of cinematography for their contribution to cultural diversity and a dialogue among peoples.” Sharif — who brought characters including an Armenian king, a Mongol leader, a Russian doctor and an Arab warrior to life on the big screen — won the inaugural medal in 2005.
5. Omar Sharif was also a skilled bridge player
Though Omar Sharif is primarily remembered as Hollywood royalty, he was also one of the world’s best-known bridge players, according to the World Bridge Federation. Sharif wrote a syndicated column about the game for the Chicago Tribune, wrote several books on the topic, lent his name to a bridge game and even founded the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus, which played exhibition matches.