Feature

Sharif’s irresistible appeal

Omar Sharif can thank bad English cooking for his career.

Omar Sharif can thank bad English cooking for his career, said Stuart Heritage in The Guardian (U.K.). As the only son of a wealthy family in Alexandria, Egypt, Sharif enjoyed a life of indulgence. He gorged on candy and cakes, and by age 10 was so obese that his socialite mother decided to take radical action. “[She] said, ‘The only thing is to put him in an English boarding school. The food will be so horrible that he’ll lose weight.’” The plan worked—Sharif shed the pounds and discovered a love of acting after being cast in school plays. “So I became thin, learned to become an actor, and learned English. All because my mother didn’t like looking at her fat son.” Sharif’s chiseled good looks won him a leading role in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia, which transformed the actor into an international sex symbol. Some fans took extreme measures to get close to the star. In 1970, a gun-wielding woman burst into his Dallas hotel room demanding he make love to her. Sharif politely demurred, explaining that the pistol had taken the edge off his desire, “as it would with anyone from Errol Flynn to [Tarzan actor] Johnny Weissmuller.”

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