#TBT: Omar Sharif

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Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” was a defining moment for me as an artist. When that camera pulled back revealing the image of Babs holding a ridiculously long and high note on a tugboat, I pretty much knew that was what I wanted to do…be in a Broadway musical and move people with my voice.

I don’t know how  many people I moved with my voice or dancing in the chorus, but I did make it to Broadway…thanks Babs!

Another defining moment for me with that particular film was the moment Omar Sharif showed up on screen as Nick Arnstein.  Baby, I was in love!!!  What a handsome, charming, talented man!!!

Clearly, I wasn’t the only young girl or grown woman who felt that way…

In his prime, Sharif — with his dark eyes, debonair demeanor and exotic accent — was considered one of the most handsome men on the planet, his looks getting as much attention as his acting ability.

“When he walked on the ‘Zhivago’ set in Spain, I took one look and said, ‘I can’t act with that man. He’s too gorgeous!’ ” one of his “Zhivago” co-stars, Geraldine Chaplin, told The New York Times in 1965.

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Sharif was born Michael Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 10, 1932. He grew up in Cairo, the son of a lumber merchant.

He wanted to be an actor from a young age, performed in theatrical productions as a teenager an in his early 20s, he was cast in an Egyptian film opposite actress Faten Hamama. The 1954 film, whose Arabic title translates to “Struggle in the Valley,” made him a star; the next year, Hamama became his wife. The two were married until 1974.

But it would be his roles in “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago” that would make him a bon-fide movie star.  When he paired up with Streisand in “Funny Girl” their onscreen romance bled off-screen and seemed to be quite serious.  However, due to religious and political reasons, the relationship could not survive.

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His life wasn’t the romantic lark his image suggested. He acknowledged some issues with gambling — the Guardian noted that he lost £200,000 in one 2003 experience that concluded with Sharif head-butting a police officer — and told Guernica magazine in 1996 that he lived a “sedate” life.

Sharif is survived by a son, Tarek, and two grandchildren.

To me, he will always be the devilishly handsome Nick Arnstein…take a look back and remember the brilliance of Omar Sharif…

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