Birthday: May 27, 1931
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Faten Ahmed Hamama
Born in: Mansoura, Egypt
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'1" (155 cm), 5'1" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Ezzel Dine Zulficar (m. 1947–1954), Mohamed Abdel Wahab Mahmoud (m. 1975–2015), Omar Sharif (m. 1955–1974)
father: Ahmed Hamama
siblings: Layla ( younger sister) and Mazhar, Muneer (older brother)
Died on: January 17, 2015
Faten Hamama was an Egyptian actress who had a successful career in television as well as in films. She was also a producer. She is still remembered for her roles in films, such as 'Bullet in the Heart', ‘The Angel of Mercy’, and 'The Two Orphans'. Born in Mansoura, Egypt, she made her acting debut as a child actor in the film ‘Happy Day’. The film revolved around a young couple and a woman who tries to destroy their relationship. Over the next few years, she appeared in films such as ‘Bullet in the Heart’ and ‘A Small Millionaire’. Though she initially did only minor roles, her popularity grew over the years and she established herself as a leading actress of Egyptian cinema and one of the best known actresses in the Middle East. In her extensive career which lasted more than sixty years, she acted in more than a hundred films and television programs. A much decorated actress, she was the recipient of the Special Award at the Moscow International Film Festival and the Lebanese Order of Merit in addition to other prestigious awards.
Childhood & Early Life
Faten Ahmed Hamama was born on 27th May 1931 to a lower middle class family in Egypt. According to her birth certificate, she was born in Monsoura; however, she had stated that she was actually born in Cairo. Her father Ahmed Hamama was a clerk working in the Egyptian Ministry of Education, while her mother was a housewife. She had two brothers, Muneer and Mazhar, and a sister named Layla.
When she was six, her father took her to a theatre to see a film starring Assia Dagher. Hamama was deeply influenced by the actress and her performance, and she decided to pursue a career in acting. She was soon introduced to film director Mohammed Karim who was looking for a girl child for the film ‘Happy Day’. She was selected for the role and her performance was much loved by the people.
She next appeared in the film ‘Bullet in the Heart’, which released in 1944. The film was about a womanizing man who falls in love with his friend’s lover. The young actress then appeared in the films ‘The First Month’ (1945) and ‘Universe’ (1946). Eventually she moved to Cairo with her parents to study at the High Institute of Acting.
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Faten Hamama’s potential was recognized by the film director Youssef Wahbi who cast her in the lead role in the film ‘The Angel of Mercy’. The film earned much popularity and catapulted her to stardom. Other films she appeared in over the next few years include ‘The Punishment’ (1948), ‘The Two Orphans’ (1948), ‘Lady of the House’ (1949) and ‘Father Ameen’ (1950).
She appeared in several films in the 1950s, a period known as ‘The Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema’. These include ‘Your Day Will Come’ (1952), which was a huge hit, ‘Slaves of Money’ (1953), ‘God is With Us’ (1955) and ‘The Barred Road’ (1958).
Despite having a successful career, she kindled controversy during the 1960s when she claimed she was being harassed by Egyptian intelligence. As a result, she was forbidden to travel as well as take part in film festivals. However, after a lot of efforts and disputes, she was finally allowed to leave the country. Though she was not very active during this time, she did appear in a few films such as ‘No Time For Love’ (1963) and ‘The Sin’ (1965).
As she aged over the years, her acting roles started declining. Nonetheless, she continued appearing in several successful films, such as ‘The Thin Thread’ (1971), ‘My Love’(1974), ‘Mouths and Rabbits’ (1977), ‘The Night of Fatima’s Arrest’ (1985) and ‘Land of Dreams’ (1993).
Hamama’s last work in her career was her lead role in the Egyptian miniseries ‘Face of The Moon’. It was very successful and also won the ‘Best Series Award’ in the Egyptian Radio and Television Festival held in 2001. Throughout her career, she had also served as a producer for several films, such as ‘Love and Tears’ (1955) and ‘The Song of Death’ (1973).
Faten Hamama first gained popularity for her role in the film ‘The Angel of Mercy’. Directed and written by Youssef Wahbi, the film was released in 1946. The film starred Faten Hamama, Negma Ibrahim, Raqiya Ibrahim, Farid Shawqi and Youssef Wahbi in lead roles. Hamama played the role of a girl whose father suspects his wife’s estranged brother to be her lover.
Another important work in Faten Hamama’s career was her leading role in the Egyptian drama film ‘The Sin’. Directed by Henry Barakat, the film was released in 1965. It starred Faten Hamama, Zaki Rostam and Abdullah Gaith in the main roles. Hamama played the role of a poor peasant woman who gets raped while working in the fields. This leads to her pregnancy and eventually her death, making her a martyr for the cause of the struggling peasants.
Awards & Achievements
Throughout her career, Faten Hamama had received several awards for her brilliant performances on screen. The international awards she had won include the Special Award at the ‘Tehran International Film Festival’ in 1972 for her performance in ‘The Thin Thread’, as well as ‘The Special Award’ at the Moscow International Film Festival’ for her role in the film ‘Empire M’.
The other honors received by her include the ‘Decoration of Creativity of First Degree’, bestowed upon her by Prince Khaled Chehab, the Lebanese Prime Minister, in 1953, and ‘Decoration of the State of the First Order’ from Egyptian President Anwar Sedat in 1976.
Faten Hamama married director Ezzel Dine Zulficar in 1947. Their marriage lasted till 1954 and produced one daughter. Later she was married to Omar Sharif from 1954 to 1974. The couple had a son named Tarek Sharif.
She later married an Egyptian doctor Abdel Wahab Mahmoud, with whom she lived till her death in 2015.
Faten Hamama passed away at the age of 83, on 17th January 2015. The cause of her death was not specified by her son. Her death received considerable media attention and her funeral was attended by thousands of mourners.