Omar Sharif Tributes: Hollywood Remembers ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ Star

Barbra Streisand, Antonio Banderas and Rosie O’Donnell among those honoring Egyptian actor who died Friday at age 83

Last Updated: July 10, 2015 @ 4:12 PM
The news that Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor known for his roles in classic films like “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia,” has sparked heartfelt reactions across Hollywood.

“He suffered a heart attack this afternoon in a hospital in Cairo,” the actor’s agent, Steve Kenis, told TheWrap on Friday. He was 83.

“Omar was my first leading man in the movies,” Barbra Streisand, who starred opposite Sharif in her Oscar-winning debut, “Funny Girl,” said in a statement. “He was handsome, sophisticated and charming. He was a proud Egyptian and in some people’s eyes, the idea of casting him in ‘Funny Girl’ was considered controversial.”

She added, “Yet somehow, under the direction of William Wyler, the romantic chemistry between Nicky Arnstein and Fanny Brice transcended stereotypes and prejudice. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Omar, and I’m profoundly sad to hear of his passing.”

Spanish actor Antonio Banderas bid a sad goodbye to his friend via Twitter. “My great friend Omar Sharif has passed away. I will always miss him. He was one of the best. D.E.P,” he said, while posting a series of tweets including a message in Spanish and a photo of himself with the legendary actor.

Rosie O’Donnell posted a photo of Sharif with Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” and quoted her line from the film, “Nicky Arnstein – Nicky Armstein – what a beautiful beautiful name.”

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Director Joe Carnahan, best known for “Narc,” “Smokin’ Aces” and “The A-Team,” wrote on Twitter: “What class and dignity,” before quoting the actor in his most famous role as Sherif Ali. “‘Truly, for some men nothing is written unless THEY write it.'”

“Very saddened by the passing of Omar Sharif. Blessed that I was able to work with such a legend,” Love to the family,” German “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” director Roland Emmerich wrote.

Comic actor and the voice of “Frozen’s” Olaf, Josh Gad recalled growing up watching “Lawrence of Arabia,” calling Sharif’s career “a legacy with not one but multiple timeless classics.”

Sharif was born in Alexandria in 1932. His first film role came in 1954 with the film “Devil of the Sahara.” He worked consistently in Egyptian cinema until breaking out in 1962 as Sherif Ali in the epic David Lean classic “Lawrence of Arabia.”

He won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the iconic film, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Sharif was an incredibly prolific actor, appearing in an average of two to three projects a year. Earlier this year, his agent confirmed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.