Omar Sharif facts: what you need to know about the actor honoured by Google

The Egyptian actor Omar Sharif is honoured in today’s Google Doodle, marking what would be his 86th birthday.

Here are seven things you need to know about Omar Sharif.

He wasn’t always known as Omar Sharif

Sharif was born Michel Dimitri Chalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt in 1932 to Lebanese parents.

He graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics from Cairo University before decided that acting was for him, and moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

He later changed his name when he converted to Islam.

He spoke six languages

Growing up in Egypt, Sharif developed a skill for languages. Throughout his life, he spoke six in total: Arabic, English, French, Italian, Greek and Spanish. He put these skills to good use during his film career.

Omar Sharif's golden era was during the 60s

Sharif is most well-known for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, the film that propelled him to international stardom in 1962. He played the role of Sherif Ali, his first English-speaking role, for which he was paid £8,000.

He won a Golden Globe award for his performance, as well as earning an Oscar nomination too.

After Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif went on to star in Doctor Zhivago, an adaption of the Cold War novel written by Boris Pasternak. He played the lead role as Yuri Zhivago, a poet and physician, which earned him a Golden Globe for best actor.

As well, he also played Nicky Arnstein, alongside Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and the two were reported to be romantically involved during the filming. This angered his home country of Egypt, as Streisand is Jewish, leading to the film being banned in many Arabic nations.


But not every film he made was successful

Not all great actors score every time. Sharif had his far few flops amongst his catalogue too.

There was Genghis Khan, based on the Mongolian dictator which cost $4.5 million to make and was a box office disappointment.

As well, there was a World War Two film, Night of the Generals, with his Lawrence of Arabia co-star Peter O’Toole that was not a success.

And there was the Che Guevara biopic, Che!, The Last Valley with Michael Caine and The Horsemen also did not go down well with audiences.

He was serious about his relationships

Despite being a Hollywood actor, Sharif did not want to play around when it came to women.

In an interview with the Independent in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif said, “Darling, I’ve slept with fewer than 10 women.”

Sharif proved his dedication to his loves with grand gestures. When he married Egyptian actress Faten Hammam, his co-star in Egyptian film The Blazing Sun in 1955, he converted to Islam to be with her.

Sharif was a Hull City fan

Alongside his acting commitments, Sharif was a big Hull City football fan in his spare time.

He was such a fan that when he accepted an honorary degree from Hull University in 2010, he said he couldn't have accepted it from anywhere else due to his support of the city's football club.

Sharif became a fan of Hull City after sharing a flat with Hull-born actor Tom Courtenay in the 60s.

The duo reunited to watch their favourite club play at Wembley in the FA Cup Final in 2014.

He was once arrested for head-butting a policeman

As Sharif got older, there were rumours he gambled all his money away in casinos. He denied this was ever true, but he was arrested for head-butting a policeman in a casino in 2003 when he was 71.

He had alleged lost around £200,000 which caused the outburst.

Sharif later said that assaulting a policeman was "the dream of every Frenchman".