Omar Sharif, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ actor, dead at 83

Omar Sharif, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ actor, dead at 83

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Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor who became an international star in “Lawrence of Arabia,” has died at 83.

The “Doctor Zhivago” star suffered a heart attack in a Cairo hospital Friday, his agent Steve Kenis said.

Sharif suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, his son revealed in May.

The legendary actor, who spoke six languages, appeared in 118 TV and movie roles over his decades-long career.

His grandson, Omar Sharif Jr., told the Daily News he was “numb” about the loss of the “amazing” man who “always put family first.”

“I always lived apart from him,” the 31-year-old actor and human rights activist said, noting he went to international schools but spent summers and holidays with his granddad. “The only way I was able to see him was by watching his films, and it’s funny to think that’s how I’m going to have to go back to seeing him.”

“It’s heart-wrenching to think, not funny,” he added.

Sharif was born to Syrian and Lebanese parents in Egypt in 1932, according to IMDB. Named Michel Demitri Chalhoub, he grew up Roman Catholic and earned a college degree in mathematics and physics before entering his family’s lumber business.

He starred in numerous Egyptian films in the 1950s and starred alongside the Egyptian actress Faten Hamama in “The Blazing Sun” in 1953. He converted to Islam to marry Hamama two years later.

The A-list couple had one son, Tarek Sharif, and divorced in 1974.

Sharif revealed in 2004 that he has another son from a one-night stand with an interviewer.

“Lawrence of Arabia,” his first English-language film, made him an international star in 1962, earning him an Oscar nod for his role as Sherif Ali opposite Peter O’Toole.

“It separated me from my wife, from my family … We didn’t see each other anymore and that was it, the end of our wedding,” Sharif said in a 2003 interview about his launch to fame. “I might have been happier having stayed an Egyptian film star.”

Sharif won a Golden Globe for his role in “Doctor Zhivago” in 1965.

Three years later, Sharif played the husband to Barbra Streisand’s character in “Funny Girl,” and their four-month off-screen romance heightened tensions following the Egyptian-Israeli Six Day War.

When an Egyptian newspaper reported on the affair with the headline, “Egypt Angry,” Streisand reportedly responded, “Egypt angry! You should hear what my Aunt Sarah said!”

The movie was banned in Egypt because Sharif was cast as a Jew.

He was an adept actor, getting cast to play roles ranging from Argentine-born revolutionary Che Guevara in “Che!” to Italian Marco Polo in “Marco the Magnificent” and Mongol leader Genghis Khan in “Genghis Khan.”

“He was a phenomena; a one of a kind. Everyone had a dream to be like Omar Sharif. No one will be like him,” the Egyptian actress Yousra told the Associated Press on Friday after his death was announced. “I don’t think we are going to ever have someone like him.”

Antonio Banderas mourned the loss of his “great friend” who starred alongside him in “The 13th Warrior” in 1999, writing on Twitter, “I will always miss him. He was one of the best.”

Sharif called some of the movies he did later “rubbish,” including “The Pink Panther Strikes Again.”

Movie offers of substance dried up so much by the late 1990s that Sharif started turning all offers down.

“I lost my self-respect and dignity,” he told a reporter in 2004. “Even my grandchildren were making fun of me. ‘Grandpa, that was really bad. And this one? It’s worse.'”

Sharif’s career was relaunched in 2003 with the French film “Monsieur Ibraham.” He earned a Cesar, the French equivalent of the Oscar.

But his public life appeared to be on the decline.

The same year, the prodigious gambler was reportedly thrown out of a Paris casino and refused to leave, leading to a scuffle with police. He was fined $1,700 and given a one-month suspended sentence.

He got into legal trouble a year later, when he punched a Beverly Hills parking valet who refused to take European currency. Sharif pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and was ordered to take an anger management course.

In 2011, he made headlines for slapping a female fan who had interrupted him during a filmed interview on the red carpet in Doha.

Shairf also became well-known as a bridge player, writing a syndicated column on the subject for the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s and penning two books in the 1980s. He gave up the game when he quit gambling.

Sharif’s last acting credit is for “The Secret Scripture,” which he appeared in alongside his grandson.

“He was with me in the first film I ever did, and I was in the last thing he ever made,” Omar Sharif Jr. said. “It’s funny how it goes full circle some times.”

The film is in post-production, as another one of his movies, “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham.” Before that, he appeared in the French film “Rock the Casbah” in 2013.

Sharif spent his later years in Cairo and a Paris hotel.

“When you live alone and you’re not young, it’s good to live in a hotel,” he told a reporter in 2005. “If you feel lonely, you can go down to the bar. I know all the people who work here and who come here regularly. The room is done for you, and you don’t have to worry about anything,” he said. “If you feel anything, health-wise, you can call the concierge and tell them to bring all the ambulances in Paris.”

Sharif is survived by his son, two grandsons, a sister and “family and friends around the world,” Omar Sharif Jr. said.

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