Omar Sharif, who became an international sex symbol with starring roles in “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” has died. He was 83.
He died of a heart attack in a hospital in Cairo, the Associated Press reported, citing his agent, Steve Kenis.
Sharif was also a top-ranked contract bridge player, high-stakes gambler and racehorse owner. At the height of his fame, in the 1960s and ’70s, he was a playboy, jetting between movie sets and bridge tournaments, leaving broken hearts in his wake.
He was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor for playing Sherif Ali in “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962). Director David Lean plucked him from Egyptian cinema for Sharif’s first English-language role.
In 1962, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen called him “the greatest lure for female fans since Rudolph Valentino.”
Three years later, Lean again directed Sharif in the title role in “Doctor Zhivago.” The film won five Oscars. Sharif wasn’t nominated, though he won a Golden Globe in Boris Pasternak’s romantic saga, set against the Russian Revolution.
The remainder of Sharif’s career played out as an anticlimax, the once-promising star cast in a series of increasingly small roles in decreasingly interesting movies.