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Omar Sharif dead: Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago star was 83

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Oscar-nominated actor Omar Sharif, who appeared in such films as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, has died at the age of 83.

Sharif suffered a heart attack Friday afternoon in a hospital in Cairo, his agent Steve Kenis confirmed to EW. Earlier this year, it was revealed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sharif, who was raised Catholic but converted to Islam in 1955, was one of Hollywood’s most prominent Middle East-born actors. Born Michel Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, Sharif studied math and physics at Cairo University, then worked for his father’s successful lumber company.

In the early ‘50s he got into acting, first appearing on screen in an Egyptian movie called The Blazing Sun. His screen career quickly took off. He made more than a dozen Egyptian films and married the popular actress Faten Hamama.

In 1962, Sharif was introduced to English-speaking audiences when he played Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, for which he earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination. He re-teamed with Lean for 1965 epic Doctor Zhivago, starring opposite Julie Christie. Three years later he appeared in Funny Girl alongside Barbra Streisand. In later years, Sharif continued to act in less-prominent films and in TV movies. He also became a well-known expert on bridge.

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