Michel Demitri Chalhoub was born on 10 April 1932, in Alexandria, Egypt, into a family of Syrian-Lebanese descet, and as Omar Sharif was known as a film actor, particularly famous for his roles in ‘Lawrence of Arabia'(1962) and ‘Doctor Zhivago'(1965). Sadly, Omar Sharif passed away following a heart attack on 10 July 2015, having suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for a short period.
So just how rich was Omar Sharif? Sources estimate that Omar’s net worth was around $2 million, accumulated during his lengthy career in the movie industry, but by his own admission largely squandered through his gambling habit.
Omar Sharif Net Worth $2 Million
Omar was educated at Victoria College, and although good at, and interested in languages – he was to become proficient in French, Italian, Spanish and Greek as well as Arabic and English – he subsequently graduated from Cairo University with a degree in physics and mathematics. Although working in his father’s business in precious woods, Omar also studied at RADA in London, but then began his acting career in Egypt in 1954, swiftly becoming a star with roles in “Sleepless”, “Lady of the Palace” and “River of Love’, adapted from Anna Karenina. These roles were instrumental in starting to build Omar’s net worth. About this time, Michel Chalhoub adopted the pseudonym of Omar Sharif, meaning ‘the noble man’ in Arabic
In 1962, Omar Sharif was selected by director David Lean for the authentic role of Sharif Ali in the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, a popular account of an English hero of World War One. Omar’s performance earned him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor, and winning him two Golden Globe Awards, as well as promoting him to fame around the world, and adding considerably to his net worth.
Omar Sharif was quickly cast quite deliberately in a variety of roles in several other notable films, including “The Yellow Rolls Royce”, “Genghis Khan”, “The Night of the Generals”, and as Che Guevara in “Che!” Then David Lean again cast him, as the star in “Doctor Zhivago”, which received 10 nominations for Oscars, and which won Omar another Golden Globe. He then played opposite Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl”, controversial in his home country as Streisand was a known supporter of Israel. This didn’t prevent him also starring in the sequel “Funny Lady” in 1975, but meantime he also starred in “Mackenna’s Gold”, “Juggernaut” and “The Tamarind Seed” with such stars as Gregory Peck, Richard Harris and Julie Andrews. All these projects contributed significantly to Omar’s net worth.
During the following years, Omar’s roles became fewer, and certainly less interesting to audiences. However, the occasional starring role still arose, such as in the French film “Monsieur Ibrahim”, which brought Omar Sharif a Cesar Award for Best Actor. More recent appearances were in “Heritage”, and finally in “Rock the Casbah”. Overall, Omar appeared in more than 70 films on the big screen, and 15 on TV.
Aside from acting, Omar Sharif had almost another complete life. He was a world class bridge player, and was a columnist on the subject for the Chicago Tribune. He wrote or co-authored several books on the subject, and contributed to several video games and MS-DOS publications. However, he was also an inveterate gambler, which cost him considerable sums of money, hence his relatively modest net worth at the time of his death. In later life he described himself self-deprecatingly as ‘a useless person who plays cards’, but his easy charm and good humour never faltered.
In his rather less than private personal life, Omar Sharif was married only once, to Egyptian actress Faten Hamama from 1954-74, although they separated years earlier; they had one son. He was reputed to have had several relationships, most notably with Barbra Streisand in the late 60s, but publicly he was always careful to protect his partners from media coverage.
Although Omar Sharif was at the height of his acting fame some years before his death, he remained popular with audiences around the world from his long-lasting aforementioned starring roles which brought him world-wide attention. No doubt replays of these films will continue to be viewed for many years to come.
Bollywood movie star Dilip Kumar was initially offered the role of Sherif Ali . He declined the role after which David Lean offered it to Omar Sharif which subsequently catapulted him onto the world scene. Sharif was supposed to play the role of Tafas who is shot by Sherif Ali in his introductory desert sequence.
Around 2007-2009, he said in an interview in Egypt that Che! (1969) was one of his worst movies. He said he didn't know back then that it was produced by the CIA, and that it would offend the reputation of a famous socialist & revolutionary figure like Che.
He spoke and acted in 6 languages; Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish & Greek.
Served in Egypt's militia during the 1956 Suez crisis but considered the idea of actually using his rifle absurd as the enemy would simply level the apartment block he lived in with their return fire. Was later interviewed by British chat show host Michael Parkinson who had served with the British Army on the other side of the conflict, the pair comparing their memories of the events.
He said in an interview to the Egyptian Television that his former wife Faten Hamama is his only true love.
His parents and sister used to live in Spain.
He was a student at Victoria College School in Egypt.
He said that he spent most of his time between 1960-1990 away of Egypt living in hotels to film movies in America and Europe.
He performed some shows in the British theaters.
He was a close friend of Egyptian actors Ahmed Ramzy and Fouad El-Mohandes and famous director Youssef Chahine.
He wanted to study in the Royal Academy of Arts but, before he was supposed to travel to London, a producer saw him and offered him the leading role in his first acting role Siraa Fil-Wadi (1954).
He said in an Egyptian interview in the early 1990s that he expected that his grandson Omar Sharif Jr. would become a great actor.
Received one-month suspended prison sentence for striking a police officer in a suburban-Paris casino in July 2003. Was also fined $1,700 and ordered to pay the officer $340 in damages, for insulting and then head-butting the Pontoise policeman, who tried to intervene in an argument between the actor and a roulette croupier. [August 2003]
Ordered by a US court in Beverly Hills, California to take an anger management course for punching a parking attendant who refused to accept his European currency on 11 June 2005. Sharif was not present for the hearing. (13 February 2007).
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1990.
Underwent triple bypass surgery in 1992, and suffered a mild heart attack in 1994. Until his bypass, Sharif smoked 100 cigarettes a day; after the operation he quit easily.
Also fluent in Italian (ex. appearance in main RAI show ''Domenica In'' 10/23/2005)
He is both author and co-author of several books on Bridge and has licensed his name to a Bridge computer game.
5 August 2003 - Received a one-month suspended sentence and a $1700 fine for head-butting a police officer in a French casino in July.
Of Lebanese/Syrian descent, but lived in Egypt all his life
Fluent in English, Arabic, Spanish, Greek, Italian and French.
[on being cast by David Lean in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)] They chose me for Lawrence of Arabia (1962) because I spoke English, had black hair, black eyes and a mustache. It was all luck. I was taken in a plane to the desert to meet David, and as we came in to land we could see him sitting all by himself. We landed right next to him, but he didn't move one step. When I got off the plane, he didn't say 'hello'. He simply walked round me to see my profile. Finally, he said 'That's very good, Omar. Let's go to the make-up tent.' I tried on a mustache, and it was decided I would grow one. I've shaved it off for a couple of films, but otherwise I've had it ever since.
[on Che! (1969)] I wasn't satisfied with it. It was very awful because it was a movie about a very important figure in socialism and communism, and it was produced by the CIA. I didn't know and I wasn't aware of that. I had put a condition with them that this movie wouldn't offend the reputation of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.
[on his prowess as a lover] See these hands? They are old. But they are soft. Only good for caressing.
[on Barbra Streisand] I thought she was not very attractive at first. But gradually she cast her spell over me. I fell madly in love with her talent. The feeling was mutual for four months - the time it took to shoot the movie.
[on sex] Making love? It's communion with a woman. The bed is our holy table. There I find passion and purification.
[in his 1977 autobiography] I might as well say it; the United States disconcerted me. Especially its women... And, yet, they weren't at fault. I found America disconcerting because it was unlike any country. It represented a world in which I was out beyond my depth. I learned to think and to live in a certain way among people who had much in common... And then all of a sudden, I'd been transported into a world in which everything was foreign: its emotions, sympathy, weaknesses, ideals, vices, envies, malice. America had its own values... I watched its way of being, its way of living, and I failed to understand. The self-confidence, superiority, and independence of the women... These women are different from the ones I'd known... In my country women are dependent. They blush. And I like that; I'm used to that... Curiously enough, American women don't blush. Was I to blame? I was a Europeanized Middle Eastern man. It was asking a lot to make me an Americanized Middle Eastern man as well. Asking too much perhaps.
I lived very humbly, in fear, I accepted the films they wanted me to do and even films I didn't want to do and I didn't like because I was afraid of saying no.
Since 1966 I have never lived with a woman, I have only lived in hotels and eaten in restaurants. Mine was a very happy life, I am not complaining,
I had a couple of adventures with women, but not the great love. I had a great love once with my wife (Faten Hamama) that has to be said.
When I made Doctor Zhivago (1965) they sold me to MGM for $15,000. I made the film for $15,000. My American lawyer said 'I can sue them', and I said no, leave it, I don't want them to think of me as someone who only wants money.
[on being the "only Arab" working in Hollywood] I had to be very careful. For example, Columbia Pictures signed a five-year contract with me when I had made Lawrence of Arabia (1962) but they didn't pay me anything.
Every moment is like that for me now and that is how it should be. To live well at my age you always have to think about concentrating your attention on the moment that is now and the moment you are living because you don't know how much longer you may live.
When one sees what happens in the world between the religions, the different religions - killing each other and murdering each other, it's disgusting and as far as I am concerned it's ridiculous. So I thought I might be useful, I believe in God and I believe in religion, but believe religions should belong to you. The extraordinary thing is that the Jews believe that only the Jews can go to paradise, the Christians believe that only a Christian can go to paradise and the Muslims believe that only the Muslims can go to paradise. Now why should God, in His great justice, make somebody born that cannot go to paradise - it is absurd. Please forgive me I don't mean to say it's absurd, people made it absurd.
[final sentence in his autobiography] Actually, I want today to be like yesterday... Is that asking too much?
I was a lonely man living out of suitcases in hotels and when you arrive in a new place and you don't know anyone, the only place where you can go if you're a well known person to have dinner alone is a casino. You go to the casino, have dinner by yourself, no one criticizes you and then you play a little bit to give yourself some emotion to fight the boredom of being by yourself, get some excitement. That's all.
I stopped making movies because for the last twenty five years I've been making a lot of rubbish because I was in debt all the time. You know I used to gamble quite a bit and then I was always broke. I was always one film behind my debts and so at some point you know I had to work all the time to support my family and myself and all my expensive tastes and then I decided that it became ridiculous at some point. It got to the stage where my own grandchildren use to make fun of my films, which is very serious. They used to say, the previous one was terrible grandfather but this one is even worse so I decided it was time to stop and keep some dignity, especially vis a vis my grandchildren and so I decided to wait for something decent to come - something that I'd like, that I would feel enthusiastic about.
I said to [George W. Bush], even before he entered Iraq: "Forget about all that. We, the Arabs . . . are not like regular countries. You will drown there". He didn't believe me.
I lived in America for a long time. Only ten per cent of all Americans have a passport. In other words, ninety per cent never left America. They don't know anything. The typical Middle Eastern man is far more intelligent.
[interview with Diane Saenger, 2006] I've stopped [playing bridge] altogether. I decided I didn't want to be a slave to any passion any more except for my work. I had too many passions: bridge, horses, gambling. I want to live a different kind of life, be with my family more because I didn't give them enough time.