Omar Sharif, “Lawrence of Arabia” Actor Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Actor Omar Sharif, who became known for his role as Sherif Ali in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The announcement was made by the actor’s son, Tarek Sharif, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. The diagnosis was later confirmed by Omar Sharif’s agent, Steve Kenis.

Tarek Sharif revealed that his father has Alzheimer’s, but that “it is difficult to determine in which phase it is in.” The Egyptian-born actor is currently 83 years old and no additional details were provided about his health state or care, only that he was diagnosed with the disease a while ago, with no specific date.

According to Sharif’s son, it is clear that his father’s health won’t improve, but will only get worse, explaining that there are currently times when he is better and other when he feels extremely confused. When asked why Omar Sharif himself was not present for the interview and the announcement was made by his son, it was explained that the actor is currently living in a hotel in El Gouna, near the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

The iconic movie “Lawrence of Arabia” directed by David Lean was the first English-language movie for Sharif that propelled him to international stardom, with his role as Sherif Ali earning him an Oscar nomination. Following that movie, Sharif starred in numerous other productions, such as “Doctor Zhivago” three years later, “Hidalgo” in 2004, and most recently “Rock the Casbah,” his last film, in 2014.

Several recognized figures have already publicly shared their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or their support in fighting the disease for other personal reasons. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting between 60% and 80% of dementia cases. It not only causes memory loss, but also other intellectual disabilities that interfere with patients’ quality of life, such as thinking and behavior. Despite the fact that there is currently no cure for the disease, there are treatments that may improve patients’ quality of life.

Recently, Julianne Moore also joined the public discussion about the chronic condition, after playing the role of an Alzheimer’s sufferer in the film “Still Alice.” The drama features the struggle of a 50-year-old college professor who is diagnosed with Early-onset Familial Alzheimer’s. The story is meant to raise awareness about the disease and show what it means to live with it, and gained critical acclaim in the U.S. and internationally from film critics and Alzheimer’s advocates alike.