Omar Sharif: RIP

I just learned that Omar Sharif passed away. A larger-than-life figure, he hearkened back to a day when all real movie stars were people you could look up to, mainly because their talents made up for their other, less-than-admirable qualities.

Sharif was such a man. For all his faults, his credits made up for them –in spades. He was most definitely a man for all seasons: bon vivant, raconteur, gambler extraordinaire, and renowned ladies’ man, he had a presence, one that is all-too-often missing from the present crop of A-listers. He could act flawlessly in several different languages: Arabic, English, Greek, Italian, and French among them. And always with the appropriate accent required.

It was not just his diction and impossible good looks, even when silent, his expressive face could speak volumes. One of the greatest examples of such acting was in Dr Zhivago, when as a young intern, he looks out at the streets of St Petersburgh, and watches the Tsar’s police shoot upon a crowd of demonstrators. Rather than show the carnage on the streets below, David Lean (the director) has the camera only shoot Sharif’s face. The audience could guage the horror simply by seeing the young man’s expressive eyes dart back-and-forth and watch the muscles twitch in Yuri’s face.

That’s acting. You don’t see a lot of that.

Stories are pouring out from friends, acquaintances, and various hangers-on about his exploits both on-screen and off. He had no illusions about some of the roles he took on. Some criticized him for making Che Guevara look like a fool. That’s because he actually read his auto-biography before he took the role and after putting it down, remarked that that odious man was nothing but a fool. And a murderous one at that. He refused to lionize him, and for that we can be grateful.

Although he had a lot of business reverses –for many years he was living out of his suitcase, moving from one hotel to the next, and taking whatever cinematic role he could–he wasn’t unlucky. Not by any stretch of the imagination. No man who cuddled on-screen with stone-cold beauties like Julie Christie or joust with the likes Peter O’Toole could die unhappy. He was then, and will be remembered forever as a legend.

Rest in peace.


  1. Francis Frost says

    Well, George:

    Once again you are amazing. Your choice of “heroes” is again strange to say the least. Sharif ( born and raised as Michel Shalhoub) was an apostate, a Christian who abandoned his faith for the sake of a stage name, and a movie career.

    Beyond that, Sharif was a compulsive womanizer and gambler, who wasted his fortune at the casinos.

    If you want heroes, why not the 23 martyred Copts or the martyred Hieromonk Andrea Kurashvili and Giorgi Adua?

    You scoff at Christian martyrs and lionize an apostate ????????????????

    Only in the land of Monomakho-mania.. Go figure. Tuzhe wierdo.

  2. Monk James says

    Movie stars interest me even less than politics, but there are a few glaring omissions from this eulogy, blank spaces which I think it might be salutary for us to fill in.

    It took just a little looking around on the Internet for me to learn that Omar Sharif, born Michel Demetri Chalhoub, was originally a greek-catholic melkite Christian who converted to Islam in 1955 in order to marry Egyptian actress Fatem Hamama. Although he grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, his family were originally from Lebanon.

    So he abandoned Christ for a woman, changed his name to something like ‘Flourishing Nobleman’ and became a famous actor. Now he’s dead.

    May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls, be merciful to his lost sheep, and bring him home to His Father.

  3. Cinematic giant in every way.

    He drew me “into” the film. I consistently let go of being anything but fully “of” the drama into which he drew me by his performance.

    An “iconic” actor.

    I am glad you chose that scene. O’Toole did the same thing as an actor.

  4. GOAPriest says


    Come on…this post is pure silliness. You cannot be both a champion of Holy Orthodoxy, a critic of modern culture, a critic of lukewarm hierachs, and a champion of the likes of Omar Sharif all in the same breath – without being called foolish and a hypocrite.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Was going to say something obvious like the height of hypocrisy/being “lukewarm” is an unwillingness to claim one’s words.

      There are worse things than liking Omar Sharif.

  5. Rymlianin says

    May God have mercy on Michel Shalhoub’s soul and grant him forgiveness of his apostasy.

  6. M. Stankovich says

    Holy Cow! There are just sometimes in this world that we can step back and appreciate an art form for its creative genius and human talent – sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Get it, Mr. Frost, et al.? Should I repent for have having been dazzled at the the cinematography, and admit to some tears sitting next to my mother who took us as children to see Dr. Zhivago? I am surrounded by constant human tragedy Monday – Friday and at least one weekend a month; with the exception of some live sports, I do not watch television; a one-time viewing of the lives of John-Paul II and Mother Theresa seemed prudent; so if I want to see an occasional movie, I should feel compelled to conduct a “background check” on every actor participating as to their faith & morals? Pardon me for a moment as I remove this terribly painful furniture clamp from squeezing my head.

    Mr. Michalopulos noted Sharif was an internationally renowned artist. He was a great artist and talent. He said his art and talent brought joy to many people. He did not say he was a man worth emulating, envying, or over whom he was jealous. He never claimed him as a “hero,” in fact, he never said he even a good man. He simply said he was an extraordinary talent. And I agree with him. What’s to dispute? The “high road” would have been to debate Mr. Michalopulos regarding Mr. Sharif’s talent & art, or said nothing. Now, Mr. Frost, you are instead left to offer to vacuum Mr. Michalopulos’ carpet.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you Dr S for an eloquent defense or my intentions. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Please, however, go easy on Mr Frost as his every breath is concerned with things Georgian.

      • GOAPriest says

        Actually, Dr. S., it would seem, that according to George,

        For all his faults, his credits made up for them –in spades…

        I don’t see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ encourages us to admire persons who live in a way incongruous with its content, but perhaps I have missed the boat on this.

        • M. Stankovich says


          I appreciate this is subtle but, admiring his work is distinct from admiring him. Further, if you would intend to make this a theological argument, I would insist this: you certainly look for trouble when you presume to “read” the mind of the Just Judge, and I have posted the words of warning of our Father John Climacus exactly five times as to the foolishness of attempting to do so. It is like “looking through smoke.” “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Ex. 33:19, cf. Rom. 9:15) St. Andrew of Crete tells us, “God is our Father, and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes.” St. Gregory Palamas asked, “Who would attempt to contained the uncontainable?” We read of a saint – whose name name I can never remember – who hated the poor, and struck a beggar with a loaf of bread, and upon his sudden death, an angel defended him before the Lord that, even though it was not his intention, the loaf of bread saved the man from starvation. The Lord allowed him another chance to repent and change his life. “Who knows what a man does in secret, asks St. John, “I have been sorely mistaken myself.”.

          I say again, whatever is creative and artistic is necessarily transcendent and is of the Source of all Creativity and Goodness (as if I should have to explain this to a Greek!). Our world is filled with rage, violence, injustice, ugliness, and horror. Art, music, theater, film, and so on can bring us moments of peace, insight, humor, and even delight. Through whom this is accomplished can be simply stated, in my estimation: by sinners. In that sense, like the loaf of bread used as a weapon of hatred was enough to move “Him would show mercy,” how could it be unreasonable to pray that the Just Judge consider the accomplished use of an artist’s talents?

          This is a simple thread about an accomplished actor. Do the man right and hit him up on Netflix.

          • GOAPriest says

            Dr. S,

            You must have me confused with someone else – since I never presumed to judge Omar Sharif, or anyone else for that matter.

            I did say, however, that

            the Gospel does not encourage us to admire persons who live in a way incongruous with its content.

            A simple truth that the quotes you have provided cannot diminish, nor your boorish snobbery.

            You have exalted the artistry of the man’s acting to heights, which is perfectly your right. It seems absurd to me, but we can agree to disagree.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Michalopulos,

              Please note that I shall need to discuss increasing my retainer as your original selections, “It is possible and appropriate to appreciate art & talent without praising the craftsman,” “But IF you would make this a theological argument…” sub-selection 1 “Greek, priest, entitled, fragile ego, & unwillingness to listen,” and sub-selection 2 “extra-sauce: boorishness & snobbery” seemed to have been ineffective in establishing a simple point. Frankly, I would suggest you alternately join me group sing of “Let it Go,” from Frozen, and we just go to the movies.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              “boorish snobbery”?

              Highly unusual for an Orthodox priest. FYI, my father was an Orthodox priest and I am somewhat familiar with Orthodox priests in general.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I like the story of a woman who did one good thing in her life: She threw a beggar an onion (in my mind’s eye, I see a scallion) and it was that onion that her guardian angel used to pull her out of hell. Unfortunately, she tried to kick off the poor souls who held onto her ankles and the onion broke.

            I’ve known priests like that. We try to hold onto their ankles and they do something stupid to break the onion.

  7. LIghten up !! Buy some popcorn and catch a great movie for goodness sake.

  8. Never saw Lawrence of Arabia, seems Clint Eastwood in his earlier westerns would have
    lets not say it, disable Shariff putting a few quick shells right at his holster. He haD exotic
    looks and the Pasternak melody, its a movie all your grandma’s saw.

  9. Der Kavouk says

    It is worth mentioning that he starred in the French film “Mayrig” or mother which deals with the Genocide of the Armenian people (available on Youtube) and was not afraid of retributions by the Turkish government for his part in the film. Hollywood has avoided anything even hinting of this great tragedy from years of the 1930’s.

    • r j klancko says

      all this proves that no matter who it is they have their good facets and their bad facets – why prolong this dribble – a great actor died, even though he compromised his christianity – or did he – that which was done in public – in communist russia it was the picture of stalin in every home, in private it was the icon in back of the picture – it is all between God the the person – dont we have better things to spend out time on?