Omar Sharif dies: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ actor was 83

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CAIRO– Omar Sharif, the dashing actor whose acting career included star turns in “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” died Friday. He was 83.

The Egyptian-born actor suffered a heart attack this afternoon in Cairo, according to his agent, Steve Kenis.

In his prime, Sharif — with his dark eyes, debonair demeanor and exotic accent — was considered one of the most handsome men on the planet, his looks getting as much attention as his acting ability.

“When he walked on the ‘Zhivago’ set in Spain, I took one look and said, ‘I can’t act with that man. He’s too gorgeous!’ ” one of his “Zhivago” co-stars, Geraldine Chaplin, told The New York Times in 1965.

But he could also be a formidable actor, earning an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in “Lawrence of Arabia” and winning Golden Globes for it and “Zhivago.”

By the ’70s, however, he had lost some interest in his acting career, and by the ’90s, he had turned most of his passion toward the card game bridge, at which he was an expert player.

“I refused in my life many films because they happened at the same time as an important tournament,” he told the UK’s Guardian. Not that he was always happy with that choice, calling it “stupid.”

Sharif was married to Egyptian actress Faten Hamama from 1954-74.