Legendary Egyptian golden age singer and cinema star Shadia has died at Cairo's Galaa Military Hospital at the age of 86 after a long struggle with illness and after suffering a recent stroke.
Shadia was born in Cairo's Abdeen district, and became one of her generation's most prominent film stars from the 1950s to the 70s, appearing in over 112 films, 10 radio serials and one play.
She began her acting career in 1947 when she was 16 years old after she was discovered by director Ahmed Badrakhan at a competition for actresses.
Born Fatima Ahmed Kamal Shaker, she was reportedly given the screen name Shadia by director Helmy Rafla.
Known for roles in light comedy and drama, Shadia has starred in over 70 films, many of which are considered classics, including El-Zouga El-Talattashar (The Thirteenth Wife, 1962), Shea' Min El-Khouf (A Bit of Fear, 1969) and Al-Liss Wal Kilab (The Thief and the Dogs, 1962), Meraty Modir Am (My Wife is a General Manager, 1966).
She worked alongside top actors including Mohamed Fawzy, Abdel-Halim Hafez, Anwar Wagdy, Kamal El-Shennawy, Emad Hamdy, who was also her first husband, and Salah Zulfikar, her third and last husband, to whom she was married between 1967 and 1969.
In many films, she sang opposite stars Farid Al-Atrache and Abdel-Halim Hafez, appearing alongside the latter in a famous performance role in The People’s Idol (1967) by director Helmy Rafla.
Some of her best-known songs include El-Qalb Yeheb Marrah (The Heart Loves Once), Shebbakna Satayro Harir (Our Window’s Curtains are Silk), Akwa Men El-Zaman (Stronger than Time), and El-Watan El-Akbar (The Greatest Homeland) alongside her contemporaries Abdel-Halim Hafez, Sabah, Warda, Nagat El-Sagheera and Faiza Kamel.
She played the lead character, Hameeda, in Zouqâq Al-Midaqq (1963), based on Naguib Mahfouz’s novel of the same name.
Through many of her roles, Shadia sought to change society’s views on social issues, especially those involving women. Meraty Modir Am (1966) is one such film. She also chose roles in films with themes of oppression and defiance, such as in the film Shea' Min El-Khouf (1969).
Shadia also took part in several radio shows, including a well-known performance in Miramar, which was based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz.
Shadia did not invest much of her career in theatre. She did, however, give a well-known performance in the comedy Rayya Wa Sakina, which was first staged in 1982.
In the play, Shadia performed alongside Suheir El-Babli, Abdel-Moneim Madbouli and Hussein Kamal. The play proved a great success, and continued to be staged for three more years in Egypt and across the Arab World.
Rayya Wa Sakina, the only play in which Shadia performed, continued to air regularly on national television until the 1990s.
Shadia retired from acting in 1986 after giving her last singing performance at El-Leila El-Mohamadeya (A Night for Prophet Muhammad) concert with the religious song Khod Be-Eedy (Take My Hand).