Many Egyptians were saddened to hear of the passing of veteran actress Dalal Abdel-Aziz on Saturday morning, at the age 61.
Nearly three months after she contracted Covid-19 with her late husband, the legendary comedian Samir Ghanem — who passed away on 20 May — Abdel-Aziz was still in hospital unaware of Ghanem’s death when she died.
Abdel-Aziz was born on 17 January 1960 in Zagazig, and she graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture at Zagazig University before moving to Cairo.
Her acting career took off in 1977 when director Nour Al-Demerdash became aware of her talent, and she appeared in small roles to such television shows as Wa Saqatat Awraq Al-Rabei (And the Autumn Leaves Fallen Down) and Lam Yakon Abadan Laha (Was Never Hers). She would go on to star on stage and silver screen, making a remarkably diverse contribution over 40 years.
Though a stage actress for many years already, Abdel-Aziz first made an impression as Dr Zanati’s nurse in Ahlan Ya Doktor (Hi Doctor), written by Faisal Nada, directed by Hassan Abdel-Salam and starring Ghanem and George Sidhom as two money-obsessed doctors. With Ghanem and Hassan Abdel-Salam, she also starred in Fares wa Bani Khaiban (Fares and the Losers, 1987), and Akhoya Hayes wana Layes (My Brother Is Happy and I’m Lost, 1992). She also starred in the play Hobb Fil Takhshibah (Love in Prison, 1994) starring Hisham Abdel-Hamid, George Sidhom and Diaa Al-Merghany, directed by Samir Seif and written by Youssef Maati.
In Ramadan TV, Abdel-Aziz participated in Fawazir Fatouta, directed by Fahmi Abdel-Hamid, in which Ghanem plays himself, Sammoura, as well as the tiny, green-clad director Fatouta.
Her cinematic career started to pick up in the 1980s, when she starred in Adel Sadek’s Nehayet Ragol Tazawag (The End of a Man Who Was Married, 1983) starring Samir Ghanem, Poussy, Hala Fakher and Ali Al-Sherif. She also starred in the unforgettable screen comedy Yarab Walad (A Boy Child, Amen, 1984), directed by Omar Abdel-Aziz and starring Samir Ghanem, Farid Shawki, Karima Mukhtar, Ahmed Rateb and Issad Younis. A year later she appeared with Mervat Amin, Farouk Al-Fishawi and Samira Mohsen in Basamat Fawk Al-Maa (Prints on Top of Water), directed by Yassin Ismail Yassin.
She starred in the film Al-Ragol Yoheb Martein (The Man Loves Twice, 1987), directed by Atef Salem and featuring Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, Shahira, Laila Elwi and Hala Sedki. In 1990, she starred in Al-Aghbiaa Al-Thalatha (The Three Idiots), directed by Hassan Al-Seifi, with screenplay jointly written by Bahgat Qamar and Ahmed Abdel-Salam, again featuring Samir Ghanem, Younis Shalabi, Said Saleh, Gamil Rateb and Hussein Al-Sherbini.
Amy, Samir Ghanem, Donia and Dalal
She starred alongside Adel Imam in Al-Noum fil Assal (Sweet Oblivion, 1996), written by Wahid Hamed and directed by Sherif Arafa. In the same year she starred with Nour Al-Sherif in Al-Zaman wal Kelab (Of Time and Dogs), directed by Samir Seif. She also starred with Yehia Al-Fakharani in the film Mabrouk wi Bolboul (1998), directed by Sandra Nashaat.
In the 2000s her contribution to the cinema was still ongoing as she performed a remarkable role in Asrar Al-Banat (Girls’ Secrets, 2001), directed by Magdi Ahmed Ali with a screenplay by Azza Shalabi and starring Ezzat Abu-Ouf, Sawsan Badr and Maya Shiha. After Asrar Al-Banat (Girls’ Secrets), Abdel-Aziz worked extensively with the younger generation, starring with Ahmed Helmi in Khaled Marei’s Asef Ala Al-Ezaag (Sorry for the Inconvenience, 2008), together with Mahmoud Hemeida and Menna Shalabi, and again with Ahmed Helmi in Amr Salama’s Sonei fi Masr (Made in Egypt, 2014). She also worked with the young comedian trio Ahmed Fahmi, Hisham Maged and Shiko in Samir wi Shahir wi Baheir (Samir and Shahir and Baheir, 2010), directed by Moataz Al-Toni.
On television, Abdel-Aziz participated in numerous grand productions like Layali Al-Hilmyia (Hilmyia Nights, 1987:1989) in its two seasons alongside number of great actors like Yehia Al-Fakharani, Salah Al-Saadani, Safiya Al-Emari, Mohsena Tawfik, Abla Kamel, Hisham Selim and the late Mamdouh Abdel-Alim. She appeared in the TV series Hadith Al-Sabah wal Masaa (Dialogues of Morning and Night, 2001), alongside Abla Kamel, Laila Elwi, Ahmed Zaher and Ahmed Khalil and directed by Ahmed Saqr, based on Naguib Mahfouz’s novel, which was adapted by Mohsen Zayed.
In recent years, Abdel-Aziz participated in TV series Lahfa (2015) alongside her daughters Donia and Amy Samir Ghanem, directed by Moataz Al-Toni. A year later she appeared as guest of honor in TV series Nelly wi Sherihan (Nelly and Sherihan) again with her two daughters, the series was directed by Ahmed Al-Gendi. In 2017 she appeared with her husband Samir and her daughter Donia in the TV series La La Land also directed by Ahmed Al-Gendi.
She appeared in the acclaimed TV series Sabei Garr (Farthest Neighbour), featuring a huge number of actors and directed by the three young female directors Ayten Amin, Nadine Khan and Heba Youssry. Her last appearance was in a Ramadan TV series named Melouk Al-Gadaana (Kings of Knighthood), directed by Ahmed Khaled Moussa and starring Mustafa Shaaban, Amr Saad and Rania Youssef,
Her marriage to Ghanem lasted 37 years. They are survived by two daughters, actresses Donia and Amy, who made their own names despite the huge shadows of their parents.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 August, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly