With a French mother and an Egyptian father living in Al Mahalla governorate, Salah Zulficar was born into an artistic family. Brother to prominent directors, Ezz el Din and Mahmoud Zulficar, the influence of the silver screen was foremost in the lives of the Zulficars in general.
In 1949 Zulficar became a police officer and then a teacher at the police academy, where he was known for his great sense of morality, professionalism and a unique social intelligence as he helped many students adapt to military life.
He was also an athlete and was the feather-weight champion of boxing, as well as a remarkable football player.
In 1951, Zulficar, along with other members of the police unit, were under siege in Ismailiya by soliders of the British army, but resisted until the last bullet was fired. Later, Zulficar was given a bravery award and the siege is commemorated as National Police day (25 January).
But Zulficar’s passion for cinema developed. After being granted a temporary permit from Zakaria Mohie El-din, then minister of interior affairs, Zulficar’s acting career took off and he played a police officer in his first film, Eyoun Sahrana (Sleepless Eyes, 1956), co-starring legendary singer and actoress, Shadia and directed by Ezz El din Zulficar. He asked to retire early from the police force and was then able to focus on acting.
Known for his talent, charisma and a great sense of humour, Zulficar soon became one of the leading film stars of his generation. He starred as Ali, the younger brother in Roda Qalby (Back Again, 1957) by Ezz Eldin Zulficar, then as Ahmed with his endless love affair with Mona, in Aghla men hayati, (Dearer Than My Life, 1965) by Mahmoud Zulficar. He was an undercover police officer in Al Ragol al Thani (The Second Man, 1959) by Ezz El din Zulficar and then Hamouda, who attained his doctorate degree in “Hatta” in Al aydi al Naaema (Soft Hands, 1963) by Ezz el Din Zulficar, among many other great roles that are still cherished in the collective memory of Egyptians to this day.
In the sixties, Zulficar and Shadia became a very successful duo. Together with director Fateen Abdel Wahab, they made a handful of cinema classics: Meraty Modier Am (My Wife the General Manager, 1966), Karamet Zawgati (My Wife’s Dignity, 1967) Afriet Merati (My Wife’s Fantasy, 1968) were all light comedies that never the less tackled important social issues at that time.
Throughout his acting career, Zulficar worked with prominent Egyptian directors such as Youssef Chahine, when he starred in Al Naser Salah el din (Saladin, 1963), Wadaan Bonaparte (Adieu Bonapart,1985), and Al Nas wal Nil (People and the Nile, 1972)
As a producer, Zulficar took his social responsibilities very seriously. Shiee Men El Khouf, (A Touch of Fear, 1969) by Hussein Kamal, tackled democracy and Oriedo Halan (I Want a Solution, 1975) by Saied Marzouk examined women’s right to divorce and were benchmarks in Egyptian cinema and earned Zulficar numerous national awards.
Throughout his career, he acted in a few television series and theatre plays, which were also a great success. Zulficar continued to act for over four decades with dedication and a passion right down to his last film: Al Tariq Ela Eilat (The Road to Eilat, 1994) by Enaam Mohamed Ali.
Salah Zulficar died on 22 December, 1993.
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