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Today Marks Omar El-Hariri's Birth Anniv.

Mon 12 Feb 2024 | 07:02 PM
Omar El-Hariri
Omar El-Hariri
Ahmed Emam

Today (Feb. 12) marks the birth anniversary of Omar Mohamed Saleh El-Hariri, who passed away in 2011.

Born in the Abdin district in 1926, El-Hariri's brief appearance as a boy in Salama is Alright (1937, Niazi Mostafa) confirmed his birth year. He was fascinated by the world of cinema since childhood until his death on October 16th, 2011.

El-Hariri earned his degree from the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts in 1947, where he studied with renowned actors Farid Shawqi, Shokry Sarhan, and Faten Hamama.

El-Hariri began his acting career in the theater with the Ramses Theatrical Company, led by Youssef Wahbi. He acted in a number of plays, the most unforgettable of which are The Jealousy (1948) and The Confessional the following year. Wahbi also supported El-Hariri's cinematic debut in The Confessional, produced and directed by Wahbi in the same year.

El-Hariri played a small role in a comedy, Look out for Your Wallet (1949, Mahmoud Ismail), and then Wahbi continued to offer him bigger roles, such as in Al-Avocato Madiha (1950, Youssef Wahbi). These roles gave El-Hariri a prominent place in the cinema community, and he was offered even bigger roles, such as in Son of the Nile (1951, Youssef Chahine), Farewell my Love (1951, Omar Gimei), Street Children (1951, Youssef Wahbi), and I am Alone (1952, Henri Barakat).

El-Hariri's supporting role in Ask my Heart (1952) along with Faten Hamama and Yehia Shahine marked the beginning of his participation in several significant films. Ezz Eldin Zulfikar, the director, insisted El-Hariri act in the majority of his subsequent films, such as An Appointment with Life (1953) and Loyalty in the following year.

 Then he cast him as the leading actor in Dearest to Me (1955), a role that showcased El-Hariri’s acting talents, where he played the role of a young man whose face was disfigured, causing him severe psychological trauma.

El-Hariri was well-known for playing more supporting roles in the 1950s, such as in Word of Truth (1953), Ataba Square (1959, both Fateen Abdel-Wahab), and The Lady of the Palace (1958, Kamal Al-Sheikh). It was difficult for El-Hariri to stand out alongside Omar Sharif, Farid Shawqi, Shokry Sarhan, Kamal El-Shennawi, and others who managed to steer the limelight away from him.

However, El-Hariri skillfully played the roles of the handsome friend or rival in love. In the 1960s, El-Hariri was the first choice to play such a character in films such as The Holy Matrimony and The River of Love (1960, both by Ezz-Eldin Zulfikar), based on Lev Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Sokkar Hanem (1960, Al-Sayed Bedeir), The Olive Branch (1962, Al-Sayed Bedeir), The Sour Grapes (1965, Farouk Agrama), and Saboteurs (1967, Kamal El-Sheikh).

In 1968, El-Hariri went to Libya to establish the Libyan National Theatre, where he spent more than five years training a generation of actors and directors. Although this was a noble mission, his absence from Egypt caused a considerable decline in the offers he received. Eventually, he stopped receiving any more roles to play. Upon his return to the country, he wanted to play a character that would put him back on the map.

In the mid-1970s, El-Hariri played the role of a police investigator/prosecutor in the sensational hit series To Be Continued. His role in the series was brilliantly played, landing him a spot alongside Adel Imam in the play A Witness who Witnessed Nothing. The play introduced El-Hariri to a younger generation who were not familiar with his name.

Throughout the last three decades of his life, El-Hariri continued to act in TV series, most notably "Aunt Safiya and the Monastery", which was based on Bahaa Taher's novel in 1994, directed by Ismail Abdel-Hafez.