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2019: Egyptian artists we lost

Many artists who passed away in 2019 left an important legacy in Egyptian cinema, theatre, and many other sectors of art

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 Dec 2019
artists 2019
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Osama Fawzy
Film director (19 March 1961 - 8 January 2019)

Fawzy is regarded as an important filmmaker with a unique language, despite a relatively short career directing just four films.

His directorial debut was the 1995 hit Afarit El-Asfalt (Asphalt Demons), which earned him the jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival, and won best director and three other awards at the Cairo National Festival for Egyptian Cinema. In 2004, he directed Baheb El-Cima (I Love Cinema), and his last film was Belalwan El-Tabaeya (In Natural Colors) in 2009.

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Osama Fawzy
Osama Fawzy

Saeed Abdel-Ghany
Actor (1938 - 18 January 2019)

Abdel-Ghany started his career as a reporter in the crime section at Al-Ahram daily newspaper, before becoming a military correspondent.

His acting career started when he joined a small Al-Ahram newspaper acting troupe. His first acting role in cinema was under renowned director Youssef Chahine in his film The Bird in 1972. He then began a professional career in cinema, TV and theatre, appearing in more than 180 films and TV series, mostly in supporting roles. 

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Saeed Abdel-Ghany

Omar el-Nagdi
Abstract expressionist and cubist painter (1931 - 22 March 2019)

One of the most important modern Egyptian painters, El-Nagdi was a member of the Liberal Artist’s group and later founded the Egyptian Mosaics Group, gathering artists working in this genre. Also a calligrapher, musician and philosopher, El-Nagdi created links between many art forms capitalising on Egyptian heritage, such as the Pharaonic, Islamic, Coptic, as well as other Eastern themes.

His works sold for high prices at many auctions focusing on Middle Eastern art. In 2016, his 1992 painting Sarajevo was sold for over $1 million at Christie's Auction house. The note accompanying his work on sale read: “Although El-Nagdi is generally known for his colourful folkloric depictions of daily life, Sarajevo demonstrates his ability to capture the essence of pain.”

Omar El Nagdi
Omar El Nagdi

Sami Rafi 
Visual artist (14 May 2019)

Rafi graduated from the Fine Arts School in Cairo where he later worked as a professor. He also had a diploma in stage design from the Academy of Arts in Vienna, Austria. Rafi's works are among the collections at the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art in Cairo, while many of his paintings were widely exhibited in major art exhibitions in Egypt and abroad. 

His biography posted at Luxor Atelier's gallery reveals that "Rafi's artistic career witnessed a major change in 1975 when he unveiled art appealing to the taste of the masses. His extraordinary achievements were represented by the admirable Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, which rises majestically 32 metres high in the Nasr City district in northern Cairo." Many of his frescos can be found on the walls of the Cairo underground stations. 

Sami Rafi
Sami Rafi

Mahmoud El-Guindy
Actor (24 February 1945 - 11 April 2019)

El-Guindy started his film career in the 1970’s after graduating the Higher Institute of Cinema going on to appear in more than 100 films from 1976 till 2019. He was notably known for appearing ion the big screen with Egyptian megastar Adel Emam in Playing With The Big Boys (1991), Shams Al-Zanati (1991). Nagy Al Ali (1992) “and The Wedding (2009) were also among his films.

In an illustrious TV Career, he appeared in more than 200 series, most notably My Dear Children, Thank You (1979) alongside the late comedian Abdel-Moneim Madbouly, Tears in Shameless Eyes ( 1980), also with Adel Imam, and Honey and Tears (1983).

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Mahmoud El-Guindy
Mahmoud El-Guindy

Mohsena Tawfik
Actress (29 December 1939 - 6 May 2019)

Her most famous character in cinema is 'Baheya' in Youssef Shahin's The Sparrow.

Tawfik appeared in many of Shahin's films, including Alexandria... Why? and Goodbye, Bonaparte.

In addition to many important cinema appearances, such as Atef Salem's Les Miserables, Samir Seif's Dail El-Samakah, Atef El-Tayyeb's Night's Heart and The Piper, Tawfik is mainly known for many TV appearances, especially for the role of 'Anisa' in four seasons of Lialy El-Helmeya, in addition to El-Wessya, Um-Kulthoum and others.

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Mohsena Tawfik
Mohsena Tawfik

Mohamed Negm
Actor and comedian (15 January 1944 - 5 June 2019)

Negm began his career in the 1960s with the troupe of iconic theatre director and actor Abdel-Monim Madbouly. He appeared in numerous films and TV series before eventually establishing his own theatre.

Negm put on dozens of plays, but 'Esh El-Maganeen' (1979), with Hassan Abdeen and Laila Elwy, has always been one of his most popular, and it was staged for over three years. The comedian gave many classic performances including in Hekayty Ma'a El-Zaman, Moled Ya Donia, Bamba Kashar and many others.

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Mohamed Negm
Mohamed Negm

Mohamed Abo Elwafa 
Actor (1956 - 29 June 2019)

Abo Elwafa was among the most beloved Egyptian actors, appearing in numerous films and television series.

His well known roles include those in Sharea' Abdel Aziz (Abdel Aziz Street, 2011)Asia (2013), Al-Leila Al-Kebira (The Grand Night, 2015), Ebn Halal (Good Guy, 2014), Kalabsh ( Handcuffs, 2017), Ka'eno Embareh" (Just Like Yesterday, 2017), Baraka (2019) among others. 

Mohamed Abo Elwafa
Mohamed Abo Elwafa

Ezzat Abou Ouf
Actor and musician (21 August 1948 - 1 July 2019)

Abou Ouf began his career as a musician collaborating with pianist Omar Khairat who played drums for Les Petits Chats, before Ezzat established his smash hit band The 4M in the late 70s early 80s. He then turned towards acting appearing in hundreds of films, TV series, and theatre plays acting with almost all the first class stars and directors of his time. 

He also produced music for theater like in 1979's 'El-Dokhould Bel-Malabes El-Rasmeya, for cinema like 1981's 'El-Qefl' and 1985's 'El-Magnouna'.

His legendary roles include those in films such as Ice Cream in Gleam (1992), Bakhit wa Adeela 1 and 2 (1994 and 1997), Ismailia Rayeh Gai (1997), Edhak El-Sora Tetla Helwa (1998), Ard El-Khouf (2000), Asrar El-Banat (2001), Matab Sena'y (2006), Hassan W-Morqos trilogy (2008, 2009 and 2012), La Tarago' Wala Esteslam (2010) Les Petits Chats (2016) and Horob Edterary (2017).

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Ezzat Abou Ouf
Ezzat Abou Ouf

Youssef Cherif Rizkallah
Film critic and historian (5 September 1942 - 12 July 2019)

Rizkallah was among the most important film critics of his generation. He helped in making Hollywood movie reviews popular in the Middle East through presenting and producing a number of important TV shows since the 60s, including Oscar and Telecinema.

The well known journalist, who wrote thousands of movie reviews for Egyptian and Arab newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV shows, participated in many film festivals around the world and was the Artistic Director of the Cairo International Film Festival for years. The 41st CIFF (20-29 November) dedicated its edition to Rizkallah keeping his name as its Artistic Director while appointing Ahmed Shawky as acting director.

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Youssef Cherif Rizkallah
Youssef Cherif Rizkallah

Farouk Al-Fishawy 
Actor (February 1952 - 25 July 2019)

Al-Fishawy was a film and television actor whose career launched in the 1970s. He starred in dozens of films and television series, with one of his first prominent appearances being in the romance movie Al-Mashbouh (The Suspect, 1981).

He worked in numerous television series and more than 130 films, including al-Qatila (1991), al-Tufan (1985), al-Rasif (1993), Mutarada Fi al-Mamnu (1993), Ghadan Sa'antaqem (1980), Hanafy al-Obaha (1990), La Tasalni Man Ana (1984), Siriyun Lilghaya (1986), Nessa Khalf al-Qodban (1986), Qahwat al-Muaridi (1981), el-Mar'a el-Hadeedeya (1987), Fatat Min Israeel (1999), al-Fadiha (1992) and Dik al-Barabir (1992).

Farouk Al-Fishawy
Farouk Al-Fishawy

Hossam Ramzy 
Percussionist and composer (15 December 1953 - 10 September 2019)

The Egyptian percussionist spent most of his life outside his home country, and passed away in Brazil.

Focusing on playing tabla, Ramzy worked with numerous renowned international musicians including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Shakira, Ricky Martin and A.R. Rahman. He also appeared on recordings by Peter Gabriel and Jay-Z, and composed music for numerous films.

Hossam Ramzy
Hossam Ramzy

Amm Saber
Puppet artist (died 7 October at the age of 72) 

Mostafa Othman, also known as Amm Saber, Saber El-Masry or Sheikh of Aragouz Players, the artist was among the most important names in the Egyptian puppetry. The multi-award winner spent almost all of his life working to revive the deep-rooted heritage of the Egyptian funny puppet 'Aragouz' in mouled ceremonies and stage performances.

Othman toured internationally, receiving awards in Tunisia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, France, Greece and Egypt for his creative work.

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Amm Saber
Amm Saber

Talaat Zakaria
Comic actor (18 December 1960 - 8 October 2019)

The Alexandria-born actor appeared in a number of films, TV series and stage productions and had worked with the country’s biggest stars, including Adel Imam and Samir Ghanim.

He starred in many works, including El-Feel Fil Mandeel, Haha and Tofaha and Tabbakh El-Raes.

His comedic performances were popular, and are often remembered today in the forms of clips and quotes on social media, through many appearances like Harim Karim, Ghabi Meno Feh, Abu Ali, Oukal and El-Tagroba El-Danemarkia.

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Talaat Zakaria
Talaat Zakaria

Haitham Ahmed Zaki
Actor (4 April 1984 - 7 November 2019) 

The 35-year-old actor was the son of late renowned actor Ahmed Zaki and late actress Hala Fouad.

Haitham Ahmed Zaki came to the limelight with a leading role in the historical drama Halim (2006), directed by Sherif Arafa and depicting life of famed singer Abdel Halim Hafez. Other significant roles include the films Dawaran Shobra (2011), Al-Qamar (2011), Sukkar Mor (2015), The Treasure (2017), The Treasure 2 (2019) and Kalabsh 2 (2018), as well as the TV series Al-Saba Wassaya (2014) and Al-Gamaah (2010).

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Haitham Ahmed Zaki
Haitham Ahmed Zaki

Mohamed El-Helw
Lion trainer (died 6 November at the age of 70)

One of the leading figures in Egyptian circus history, El-Helw comes from a long line of lion trainers and circus owners, and his sons also work in the field.

His grandfather, Mohamed Ali El-Helw, founded the family’s first circus in 1889.

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Mohamed El-Helw
Mohamed El-Helw

Ibrahim El-Fawi
Theatre director (died 13 November 2019)

El-Fawi was a leading theatre director, working in lighting design in a number of plays, including El-Zaeem (The Leader) starring Egyptian cinema and film star Adel Emam.

His other contributions include works in plays such as The Body Guard, Ambassador Aziza, with the latest being Magic of Dreams, performed at the Baloon Theatre, and Vibrate, currently performed at the Hanager Theatre in Cairo.

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Ibrahim El-Fawi
Ibrahim El-Fawi

Mohamed Khairy 
Actor (16 October 1942 - 2 December 2019)

Khairy's career launched in the 1960s and he appeared in more than 150 films and television series.

His most important roles were from the 1970s through to the 90s. His more recent appearances were in El-Ragol El-Akhar (1999), Hanan W Haneen (2007), Zizo 900 (2008), Sayed Al Ace (2009), The Bats (2012), among others.

Mohamed Khairy

Shaaban Abdel-Rehim
Shaabi singer (died 3 December at the age of 62)

Shaaban Abdel-Rehim was widely known for the songs 'Habattal El-Sagayer' (I'll quit cigarettes) and 'Bakrah Israel' (I hate Israel), was active in recent months, performing in clubs and weddings and appearing in TV shows and video clips.

With most of his lyrics written by Islam Khalil, Abdel-Rehim often commented on trending news and events, with dozens of his songs marked with the word 'eih' in the chorus and ends with 'bas khalas' (that's it). The popularity of his songs propelled him into acting, commercials, TV series and programs and theatre plays, collaborating with many Egyptian and Arab stars.

Among his movies was Daoud Abdel-Sayed, 2001's acclaimed film 'Mowaten W Mokhber W Haramy (A Citizen, a Detective and a Thief) and Said Hamed's 'Rasha Gare'a' (Dare to give) also in 2001.

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Shaaban Abdel-Rehim
Shaaban Abdel-Rehim

Samir Seif
Film director (23 October 1947 - 9 December 2019) 

Seif, who also had a few script writing experiences, directed many well-memorised films for stars including Adel Imam, Nour El-Sherif, Farid Shawky, Soad Hosni, and Ahmed Zaki.

His popular films include Qetta Ala Nar (1977), Gharib Fi Baity (1982), El-Mashboh (1983), El-Halfout (1985), El-Nemr wal-Ontha (1987), El-Moulid (1989), El-Shaitana Allaty Ahabatny (1990), Shams El-Zanaty (1991), Maaly El-Wazir (2002), and Deil El-Samaka (2003).

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Samir Seif
Samir Seif

Mohsen Helmy
Theatre director (died 11 December)

One of the leading theatre figures of his generation, Helmy is known for directing numerous theatre plays including Groom of the Sultan's Daughter, It Seems They Stole Abdo, A Good Man and A Liar, Thuraya's Children, and others.

Helmy was honored during the last edition of National Theatre Festival (2019) for his achievements in the theatre field.

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Mohsen Helmy
Mohsen Helmy

Hassan Afifi 
Star of Egypt folkloric Reda troupe (died 15 December)

Afifi's career began when in 1959 he joined first Egypt’s folkloric troupe, known as Reda troupe, a name derived from its founder, Mahmoud Reda. His renown as a choreographer brought him work in television series and films, bringing his career to the highest peaks in the 1980s. It is at this time that Afifi worked on the television show Fawazir, which aired during the month of Ramadan across all Arab countries, featuring stars of Egypt’s dance and film scene, such as Sherihan and Nelly.

Other television series which saw Afifif’s work include: Al-Asal Al-Murr (1972), Khateeat Malak (1979) Sonbol Baad Al-Million (1987), and Horseman Without a Horse (2002) starring Mohamed Sobhi, Shabaan Hussein and Gamil Ratib, for which Afifi choreographed 41 episodes.

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Hassan Afifi
Hassan Afifi

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