Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif has Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Tarek, has confirmed.
The 83-year-old star, now retired, has been struggling with the disease for three years, according to his son in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
Tarek Sharif tells El Mundo: "My father has Alzheimer's. It's difficult to determine what stage it's at. It's obvious he'll never improve and it will get worse.”
He also points to the incidents of Sharif confusing facts and people, especially in more recent years.
"He still knows he's a famous actor. The loss of memory affects above all specific things, details like when he was in a specific place or who he acted with in a specific film. He remembers for example that it was Doctor Zhivago but he's forgotten when it was filmed,” his son says.
According to the Telegraph, translating El Mundo’s article, the star does not recognise his illness, and refuses to do exercises that help slow the advancement of Alzheimer’s.
Tarek Sharif is the actor’s only child, from his father's only wife, actress Faten Hamama. He acted alongside Sharif in Doctor Zhivago (1965), in which he was also his son, aged eight at the time.
Omar Sharif played an Alzheimer’s patient in I Forgot to Tell You, a French film produced in 2009.
Known in Hollywood for his two hit films Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif acted in 118 films throughout his career, starting with Shaytan Al-Sahra (Devil of the Desert) in 1954.
His long illustrious career included a plethora of now-classic Egyptian films, such as Siraa Fil-Wadi (Struggle in the Valley) and Esha’et Hob (Love Rumour), as well as international productions including Funny Girl, Che! and Hidalgo, and even two French TV mini-series.
More recently he appeared in the 2013 film Rock the Casbah, also starring Nadine Labaki, and is narrator for a short animation currently in post-production titled 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham.