Silver Screen actor Omar Sharif died at age 83 in Cairo, Egypt on Friday afternoon. According to BBC.com, his agent Steve Kenis said he had been diagnosed earlier this year with Alzheimer’s and that he suffered a heart attack in a hospital.
Sharif’s break-out role was in director David Lean’s epic drama “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lean then cast him as the romantic lead in his next epic drama, “Dr. Zhivago.”
Here are five lesser known facts about the devilishly handsome and rugged-looking actor:
1 – Sharif was of Lebanese descent, even though he was born in Egypt.
2 – His real name was Michel Demitri Shalhoub.
3 – His father was a successful timber merchant, his mother a society woman, and they lived in a wealthy suburb of Cairo where they regularly entertained such guests as the former monarch of Egypt, King Farouk.
4 – He converted to Islam in 1955, at which point he changed his name to Omar al-Sharif.
5 – He was a consummate gambler, and a skilled bridge player -even ranked as one of the best in the world. He formed the ‘Omar Sharif Bridge Circus’ in 1967 which toured the world, and penned some books about the game. ‘I’d rather be playing bridge than making a bad movie,’ Sharif is quoted as saying.