Remembering late actress Faten Hamama on her 93rd birthday

Ahram Online , Monday 27 May 2024

Monday 27 May marks the 93rd birthday of the famed late Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, Lady of the Silver Screen.

Faten Hamama


Hamama was born on 27 May 1931 and died aged 84 on 17 January 2015.

Her father, who worked at the Ministry of Education, was the one who inflamed her love for cinema. He used to take his young daughter to movie theatres to watch films, where Hamama was mesmerized by Lebanese-Egyptian actress Assia Dagher (1908-1986).

One day, Hamama reportedly told her father that she loved how everyone applauded Dagher.

Hamama explored acting at a young age, supported by her parents.

She made her film debut when she was seven, featuring in Youm Saeed (Happy Day) alongside the late legendary singer and composer Mohamed Abdel-Wahab.

Artist Youssef Wahbi (1902-1982) is credited for discovering this young talent by including Hamama in his film The Angel of Mercy (1946). Then, she joined him in The Confession Chair (1949).

The teenage Hamama began to attract the attention of several directors, and when she entered her 20s, she was an already established actress. 

Her first leading role came with director Ezz Eldin Zulfikar, whom she married and acted in 10 films of his.

During this time, she also acted in films by other directors, including Hassan El-Imam and Youssef Chahine.

The best-known films from those decades include Immortality (1948), An Appointment with Life (1953), Conflict in the Valley (1954), Conflict in the Harbour (1956), The Road of Hope (1957), Among the Ruins (1959), and River of Love (1960).

As the roles multiplied, Hamama got to know her second husband, renowned actor Omar Sharif.

They married in 1954 and co-starred in several movies, becoming one of Egypt's most celebrity couples, before divorcing in the mid-1970s. 

According to media reports, their marriage ended due to Sharif's growing stardom in Hollywood. Sharif passed away shortly after Hamama, on 10 July 2015.

Hamama built a career that included more than 100 movies. 

Working with directors from the 1970s onwards, she played the role of a mature mother in Hussein Kamal’s The Empire of M (1972).

Additionally, she portrayed the suffering of a woman who was failed by the personal status law in I Want a Solution (1975), with Said Marzouk. 

Later, she returned to melodrama roles in A Bitter Day and A Sweet Day by Khairy Bishara (1988), with the style of Hassan El-Imam's films. At that time, however, she did not play the role of a wretched girl, but a mother who suffers the harshness of life for the sake of her children.

As for her last film, The Land of Dreams by Daoud Abdel-Sayed (1993), she exceptionally portrayed a mother who experiences all kinds of strange incidents during an evening travel to the USA

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