Today, Thursday, marks the 46th death anniversary of the legendary star Abdel Halim Hafez, fondly known as "The Dark-Skinned Nightingale".
Halim was among the iconic singers in the entertainment industry. He was born on June 21, 1929, and breathed his last in 1977. He was not only known for his stellar singing talent, but also for being a prolific actor, music director, and conductor.
Often referred to as the "The Idol of the masses", he was one of the most successful, rare Egyptian stars, with over fifty songs and 16 movies to his name.
Throughout his career, he had many hit records, performed concerts at famous venues like Royal Albert Hall in London, and had many songs in the Cairo Opera House.
The remarkable singer and musician shot to fame with his success in "Ahwak" (I adore you) song, composed by notable musician Mohamed Abdelwahab.
From then till now, he has established himself as one of the greatest Egyptian musicians and singing Legends along with Umm Kulthum, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Mohamed Fawzi, and Shadia.
The late star is well-known for some of his seminal works, such as Lahn El Wafa’ (The Song of Faithfulness), Mawed Gharam (Love Rendez-vous), Fata Ahlami (The Man of My Dreams), Yom Men Omri (A Day of My Life) and his last film Abi Foq El Shagara (My Father Atop a Tree).
The prominent star was born in El-Halawat village in the Egyptian countryside. Hafez is not his real family name. His real name was Abdel Halim Ali Ismail Shabana, but Hafez Abdel Wahab, a radio executive, discovered him and in turn, Hafez took Abdel Wahab’s first name as his last, according to Elcinema.com.
With the overwhelming success of Abdel-Halim’s first breakthrough in the film Our Sweet Days (1955), Egyptian Cinema was liberated from much of its classicism and pushed in a more youthful direction.
On this basis, the new cinema favored the vividness and fun of youth, who tended to dress casually, ride bicycles, or visit their sweethearts in boats, exactly as Abdel-Halim did in Days and Nights (1955), which gave him much praise from his fans and critics alike.
The greatest cinematic success Hafez achieved resulted from his success as a singer in the first place.
Moreover, Hafez’s participation in “Our Sweet Days” along with veterans Faten Hamama Omar El-Sheriff and Ahmed Ramzy, established the idea of a younger cinema, which prevailed afterward.
Thereafter, Hafez also stabilized his cinematic success in several films such as “Ayam w Lialy” (Days and Nights), “Banat el-Youm” (Nowadays’ Girls), “El-Wisada el-Khalia” (The Abandoned Pillow), “ El-Khataya” (The Sins) among others.
In the 1950s, the young audience favored the new cinematic style presented by Hafez because of its vividness. The young Egyptian audience, especially girls, started to view Hafez as a romance icon and their dream man, each of them wanting her sweetheart to visit her in a boat, exactly as he did in the “Ayam w Lialy” movie.
Indeed, the overwhelming cinematic success Abdel-Halim achieved formed a strong background to his singing success. The opposite was also true. This frail young man, who came from an unknown village in the countryside, turned into the idol of the masses and a box-office star.
The veteran star died at the age of 48 after battling a parasitic worm for several years. There have been numerous actors and singers who have delivered many successful films at Egypt’s box office, however, very few have had an everlasting impact on generations like Hafiz.
Despite his death forty-four years ago, he was and remains one of the most important and successful Egyptian singers and actors.