Omar Sharif

Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images for Doha Film Institute

Legendary actor Omar Sharif, best known for Lawrence of Arabia, has died. He was 83.

The Egyptian actor passed away in Cairo after suffering a heart attack, his agent confirmed to E! News. He was also known to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Sharif broke out onto the Hollywood scene for his role as Sherif Ali in the 1962 film, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. That year he also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and New Star of the Year. Three years later he went on to star in Dr. Zhivago as the title character who was a physician caught up in the Russian Revolution.

Omar Sharif, Julie Christie

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Born Michel Shalhoub in 1932, Sharif began his career in his family's lumber business before traveling to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada). He soon made his onscreen debut in an Egyptian film titled Devil of the Sahara, which was released in 1954. After that he quickly rose to stardom in his own country.

Sharif was willing to go the extra mile for his roles, which included having to hide his Egyptian looks. While filming Dr. Zhivago, Sharif had to endure daily waxing and hair straightening to conceal his ethnicity. He later admitted the starring role nearly caused him to have a nervous breakdown.

Other roles included Funny Girl, in which he starred opposite Barbra Streisand, and The Tamarind Seed. His casting in Funny Girl resulted in some controversy because at the time, the Six Day War between Israel and Arab countries, including Egypt, was taking place. Execs considered replacing Sharif, but decided to keep him on.

But when a love scene between the actor and Streisand was published, Egyptian media began a movement to revoke Sharif's citizenship.

He also played real-life figures Che Guevara and Genghis Khan.

Sharif is survived by a son and two grandsons, Omar Sharif Jr. and Karim.

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