Omar Sharif

In 1953, Sharif began his acting career with a role in the Egyptian film, Sira`a Fi al-Wadi, (English, The Blazing Sun or Struggle in the Valley or Fight in the Valley). Numerous Egyptian productions followed. He starred with his wife, Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, in several movies as romantic leads. Others include Ayyamna el helwa (Our Best Days, 1955), La anam (I Don't Sleep, 1958), Sayedat el kasr (Lady of the Castle, 1959) and the Anna Karenina adaptation Nahr el hub (The River of Love, 1961). Sharif's first English language film was Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, in which he played the role of Sherif Ali. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture, a Most Promising Newcomer award and worldwide fame as the world's leading Arabic actor.[citation needed] Sharif played the title role in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago by David Lean. His decision to star in William Wyler's Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand reportedly angered Egypt's government due to Streisand's support for the state of Israel. After a decade with infrequent screen work, in 2003 he received acclaim for his role in the French-language film adaptation of the novel Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran as a Muslim Turkish merchant who becomes a father figure for a Jewish boy. In November 2005, he was given a medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity. The medal—which is handed out very infrequently—is named after Russian director Sergei Eisenstein and can only be given out a total of 25 times by Russia's Mosfilm.