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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Honoring Gamil Rateb: A giant actor between Egypt and France (1926-2018)

Renowned veteran actor Gamil Rateb died on 19 September in Cairo at the age of 92

Soha Elsirgany , Thursday 20 Sep 2018
Gamil Rateb

Renowned Egyptian actor Gamil Rateb, who passed away Wednesday, has left behind a 65 year legacy.

The actor had just celebrated his 92nd birthday last month.

Born in Egypt on 28 August 1926, Rateb attended university in France, graduating from law school.

His repertoire includes over 80 credits between Egyptian and international cinemas, theatres and television screens.

Between Egypt and France

His debut came with a role in the 1945 with Egyptian film Ana El-Sharq (I am the East), before he went to Paris and joined the Comedie Francaise theatre in the 1950s, taking on leading roles.

Some of his stage roles include a 1960 rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées produced by Philippe Dauchez and Maurice Jacquemont, and a 1967 play of Scheherazade by Jules Supervielle at the Théâtre des Mathurins.

Some of the his appearances in French cinema include Peau D'Espion (To Commit a Murder, 1967), Un été à La Goulette (Summer in La Goulette, 1996)

Rateb also appeared in American cinema, including Panic in Bangkok (1964) and the award-winning American films Trapeze (1956), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) in which he starred alongside Egyptian actor Omar El-Sharif.

He also made appearances in several Tunisian joint productions with France and Egypt.

His career took off in Egyptian cinema during the 1970s. Al-Sooud ela El-Haweya (Rising to the Bottom, 1978), Hob Fel Zenzana (Love Inside a Prison Cell, 1983), Al-Baree (The Innocent, 1986), Toyoor El-Zalam (Birds of Darkness, 1995) are some of the numerous films he is known for.

He also worked with some of Egypt’s top directors, including Mohamed Khan in El-Keif (Dope, 1985) and Youssef Chahine in Adieu Bonaparte (1985), and alongside some of Egypt's best actors including Faten Hamama, Ahmed Zaki, Adel Imam and Mahmoud Hemeida.

His last film appeared was in 2018 with a small role in the Egyptian film, Bel Hagm El-Aely (Family-Sized, 2018), directed by Hala Khalil.

He also played a part in Hier, a Hungarian film directed by Balint Kenyeres. The film was just released last August. 

Between 1994 and 2013 he was on the Egyptian television show Yawmeat Wanees (Diaries, 1994) alongside Mohamed Sobhy, among other notable television roles.

Rateb also had roles on French television, including a 1969 series titled Thibaud ou Les Croisades (Thibaud, or the Crusades).

His last television role in an Egyptian television series was in Haret El-Yahood (Jew's Alley, 2015).


In the late stages of his career, Rateb received many awards in appreciation for his work.

He was the Legion of Honour by France, the highest French award of merit for military and civil merits. He also received an award from the Cairo International Film Festival in 2005.

In 2011 he was awarded with a lifetime achievement award at the Dubai International Film Festival.

In 2015, the Syndicate of Acting Professions honoured him with an appreciation award for his collective works, as did the Cairo Experimental Theatre festival for its 33rd edition in 2016.

Earlier in 2018, the UN-ARTs council was honoured his legacy as part of marking the occasion of Father's Day.

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