Renowned actor Nour al-Sherif died Tuesday afternoon, announced Actors Syndicate Head Sameh al-Sereity. His funeral will be held on Wednesday at the Police Mosque in 6th of October City. A long-time cancer sufferer, he died at 69.
Born in Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab district as Mohamed Gaber Mohamed Abdallah, Sherif received a diploma in acting in 1967 from the High Institute of Dramatic Arts. He initially pursued a short-lived football career, signing with the Zamalek Football Club after his graduation. Actor Saad Ardash first suggested he try out for a minor role in theater production Al-Shawarea al-Khalfeya (Side Streets). His co-star, prolific actor Adel Emam, recommended him for the role of Kamal in the adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz’s masterpiece, Qasr al-Shawq (Palace of Desire, 1967), his first role on the silver screen.
Amir Ramsis, the last director to work with Sherif, took to Facebook shortly after the news broke, posting a shot of the actor from the movie Betawqeet al-Qahera (Cairo Time, 2015). “Something inside me believed you were strong, something that believed you would continue,” Ramsis wrote. Actresses Enjy Wegdan also expressed her condolences to Sherif’s family, alongside actress Donia Abdel Aziz. Fellow actor Khaled al-Nabawy wrote on his Twitter account, “You told me not to be afraid of failing in cinema, and that the most important thing is to continue. Goodbye, Nour al-Sherif.”
Their voices were among hundreds of fans who took to social media to express their grief and condolences. “Abdel Ghafour al-Borei’i is gone,” wrote one, referring to one Sherif’s celebrated role in TV drama Lan A’ish fi Gelbab Abi (I Will Not Live in My Father’s Robe, 1995). Another fan wrote, “Nour al-Sherif, our darling forever.”
By 1971, Sherif had landed his second big role in Saeed Marzouk’s Zawgati wal Kalb (My Wife and the Dog), alongside iconic actress Souad Hosni. They met again in Al-Karnak (The Karnak, 1975) directed by Aly Badrakhan, Hosni’s husband at the time. The movie depicts the repression of leftist opposition under the rule of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In the mid-seventies, it became obvious to established filmmakers such as Mohamed Khan, Marzouk and the pioneer of Egyptian neorealism Daoud Abdel Sayed, that Sherif was meant for greater things. In 1972, he appeared alongside Hosni again in Marzouk’s Makan Lil Hob (A Place for Love). The movie portrays the economic and social implications of the 1967 war. He went on to star in Khan’s Darbet Shams (Sun Stroke, 1978), alongside fellow actress and sister-in-law Noura.
In 1992, Sherif produced and starred in the biopic Naji al-Ali, which depicted the events surrounding the assassination of the Palestinian cartoonist in 1987. The movie was pulled from cinemas after two weeks, after being attacked by local media. Sherif became alienated, as a result, with several directors refusing to work with him.
Sherif married fellow actress Safinaz Qadry, more popularly known as Poussi, in 1972. The couple divorced in 2006, but they remarried earlier this year. He is survived by her and their two daughters, Sarah and Mai.