Ashraf Abdel-Ghaffour (1942-2023): A baron mourned

Soha Hesham , Tuesday 5 Dec 2023

Renowned actor Ashraf Abdel-Ghaffour died in a car accident while driving with his wife – who remains in intensive care – on the Cairo Alexandria desert road last Sunday. He was 81.

Born in 1942 in Al-Mahalla Al-Kobra, Abdel-Ghaffour graduated from the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts in 1963, by which time he had already participated in the play Gulfidan Hanem  (Lady Gulfidan, 1962). His stage career also included Suleiman Al-Halabi (1965), Thalath Layali (Three Nights, 1965),  Mawta Bela Qobour (The Dead Without Graves, 1966), Masraa Guevara (Guevara’s Death, 1968), Watani Aaka (My Homeland Acre, 1968) and Al-Nar wal Zaitoun (The Fire and the Olives, 1969).

In a rich and varied career spanning six decades he appeared over 250 television series, his debut being Al-Qahira wal Nas (Cairo and the People, 1967), starring Nour Al-Sherif, Safeya Al-Emari, Laila Taher, Poussy and Magda Al-Khateeb alongside him, and directed by Galal Ghoneim and Mohamed Fadel. He also starred in Hesabi Maa Al-Ayyam (My Reckoning with the Days, 1980), directed by Hassan Seifeddine, and starring Ragaa Al-Geddawi, Farouk Al-Demerdash, Sami Maghawri, and Hassan Hosni.

He starred in period dramas, too: Al-Imam Malik (1980) directed by Mounir Al-Touni, alongside Aida Abdel-Aziz, Madiha Hamdi and Mohsen Serhan; Haroun Al-Rashidi (1997), directed by Ahmed Tawfik, alongside Nour Al-Sherif, Abla Kamel and Mahmoud Al-Guindi; and Al-Imam Mohamed Abdou (2005), directed by Shoukri Abu Emeira, alongside Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, Tarek Lotfi, Ahmed Khalil, and Wafaa Amer.

But he may better known for his roles in such hit series as Zizinia (1997), directed by Gamal Abdel-Hamid, written by Osama Anwar Okasha, and starring Yehia Al-Fakharani, Hoda Sultan, Athar Al-Hakim, and Gamil Rateb. More recently he appeared in Bint Al-Qabayel (The Clan’s Girl, 2020), directed by Hosni Saleh, starring Amr Abdel-Geleil, and Hanan Mutawei; Hai Al-Sayeda Zeinab (Al-Sayeda Zeinab Neighbourhood, 2021), directed by Mohamed Al-Noqali, starring Sawsan Badr and Mahmoud Abdel-Ghani; and Rasheed (2023), directed by Mai Mamdouh, starring Reham Abdel-Ghaffour and Mohamed Mamdouh.

His cinematic roles include Kamal Attia’s Al-Shawarei Al-Khalfia (The Backstreets, 1974) and Hussein Kamal’s La Shayei Yahem (Nothing Matters, 1975), directed by Hussein Kamal, among many others.

Abdel-Ghaffour’s honours and awards include the National Theatre award in 2021 and the State Award for Appreciation in Arts in 2015. He was also the head of the Egyptian Actors Union for three years (2012-2015).

He is survived by his wife and two children, Tamer and Reham, the latter a celebrated actress in her own right.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 December, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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