22 August 2011 was a dark day in the history of Egyptian cinema. The industry lost one of its biggest talents, Kamal El-Shennawy – an actor whose life and work are synonymous with the word perfection.
Today Egyptians and the people of the Arab world are commemorating the death anniversary of the late Egyptian iconic actor, who was born on 26 December 1921 in Mansoura, Egypt.
The late actor was raised in Sayda Zainab district in Cairo, where he held exhibitions and worked as an art teacher for two years, but turned to acting in 1947 with the film Ghany Harb (Riches of War).
He was good in academics and apparently his first job was that of a teacher. Later he took up as an art instructor and after a year, he joined a music institution.
El-Shennawy was always interested in arts and theater; in the late 1940s, he decided to try his luck in films. At that time, he really realized that he was moving in a path that had never crossed his mind.
In the same vein, El-Shennawy’s interest in theater led him to movies. The actor debuted in movies through the 1948 release ‘Immortality’, but it was ‘The Punishment’ that made him popular. (The Punishment) isn’t just an important milestone in his career, but also the art-work that has put the Egyptian movie on the map of Arab cinema.
From entering movies at the age of 25 to reigning the industry for two decades with his exceptional movies – El-Shennaw lived an extraordinary life.
He was well known for his seminal works, such as ‘Al Less Wal Kelab’ (The Thief and the Dogs), which is based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz; the political thriller, ‘Al Hareb’ (The Fugitive) written by Raafat El Meehy; ‘Al Karnak’, also based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz and ‘Al Ragol Alazy Faqad Zeloh’ (The Man Who Lost His Shadow).
He was also known for being humble and friendly with his colleagues in the film industry. He also enjoyed a massive fan-following, who continue to remember him on social media.
His last film was ZAZA (2008, Aly AbdelKhalik) before he passed away in 2011.