There have been many actresses who have delivered many successful films at Egypt’s box office, however, very few have had an everlasting impact on generations. Ragaa El-Gedawy is one such superstar who obtained tremendous success in the 1960s when she collaborated with renowned director Henery Barkat in a number of Black and white films.
Throughout a long-standing career that spanned six decades, from the golden age of Egyptian cinema in the 1950s until a few months ago, El-Gedawy featured in more than 300 plays, films, and television series. El-Gedawy’s combination of grace, naturalism, and comic skill, honed by a relentless work ethic, made her a cherished favorite of successive generations.
Born as Nagaat Aly Hassan El-Gedawy (she changed her first name when she began her acting career) in 1934, she is regarded as one of Egypt’s most beloved and acclaimed actresses of all time.
She was enrolled in a prestigious boarding school, where she learned English, Italian and French. To support her mother, she worked first at a public parking lot, then as a translator.
In the late 1950s, she entered a beauty pageant and was crowned Miss Cotton Egypt.
The late actress made her debut in the classic movie “The Nightingale’s Prayer,” which Egypt nominated as its entry in the foreign-language category at the Academy Awards that year.
Following her passion, she went abroad and worked briefly as a model in France before returning home to star alongside Omar Sharif and Soad Hosny in the comedy “A Rumor of Love” (1960).
The remarkable actress also gained more recognition for her artistic maturity in such films as “Banat el-Am” (The Cousins), “Ana Mesh Ma’ahom” (I am Not with Them), “Bobos”, “Taymour w Shafika”, “Sahar El Layali” (Sleepless Nights), and “Do’aa el-Karawan” (The Call of the Nightingale).
In 1970, she married Hassan Mokhtar, the renowned goalkeeper of the Ismailia soccer team, who later helped coach the national team. He died in 2016.
The second stage of her brilliant career started in the 1990s after she starred in several plays with the legendary actor Adel Imam, the so-called Zaiem.
A range of roles came her way, often as mothers, aristocratic ladies, or elegant businesswomen.
She was well known for her sense of humor which allowed her to play comic roles in numerous movies and series such as “Bobos”, “Taymour w Shafika” and “Tamer w Shawkia”.
At the end of her career, her work came mostly on the TV series that air during the holy month of Ramadan, when families gather around screens to gorge on their favorite shows after a meal to break the daily fast.
She was reportedly sick with COVID-19, the day after she finished shooting her last series, “Game of Oblivion.”
The stunning actress passed away on July 5 at an isolation hospital in her hometown, Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. She is survived by her only daughter Amira.