Today, Jan. 21 marks the anniversary of the birth of renowned Egyptian actor Naguib El-Rihani.
El-Rihani died of Typhoid in June, aged 60. He enjoyed a successful acting career after starring in his first film, Yacout, in 1934, aged 45.
El-Rihani is one of the region’s most renowned actors. His career started after he graduated from the French school “Les Frères” in Cairo in the 1900s.
El-Rihani is well-known for some of his seminal works, such as ‘Yacout’ in 1934, ‘Beslamto Ayez Yetgwz’ (“He wants to get married”) in 1936, “Abou Halmoos” in 1941 “El Rial” (1917), “El Ashra El Tayba” (“Good Companionship”) (1920) that featured music by Sayed Darwish, “El Geneih El Masry” (“Egyptian Pound”), “El Dunia Lama Tedhak” (“When Luck Smiles”), and “Si Omar.”
Moreover, El-Rihani known for integrating French theater into Egyptian theatre through his theatrical group,
Also known for establishing his own theatrical group in 1910 and for his comedic works, Rihani died at age 60 while filming his last movie, “Ghazal Al Banat.”
Actually, Rihani was honored by many political and social leaders including Talaat Harb, Saad Zaghlol, Hoda Sha’arawi and Tawfik Nassim. He also influenced the ‘Father of Comedy,’ Fouad El-Mohandes.
Born in 1889, Rihani was led by his feelings and always believed an original actor should dwell in creativity and respect his/her own art.
According to Rihani’s diaries, he was one of the rare actors who refused to drink alcohol during a time when celebrities often relied on alcohol to help calm their nerves and perform on stage.
“I don’t feel obliged to write this diary, rather I feel responsible for recording the history of Egyptian art. It will further make me at ease when I spread the truth,” Rihani wrote in his diary.
He was appalled by the statements of some actors and actresses who were enrolled in his group denying his teaching of theatrical arts.
Veteran Rihani was so fond of theater that he fell into debt and spent everything he had for good, quality theater. He had such passion for his art that he agreed with all theaters to charge him for the audiences’ tickets.
His drama seminal works were often inspired by events in his real life including his mother’s shame of his acting career and the brother he lost, George El-Rihani. Rihani was forced to leave drama due to his rising debts and fans who preferred comedy.
Ultimately, he used to integrate patriotism with humor on stage and scorned the British invasion, ongoing at the time. Rihani used the stage to spread awareness to audiences about the demeaning living conditions of Egypt at the time.