Omar Sharif is sadly battling Alzheimer's disease, his agent has confirmed. The 83-year-old, who starred in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, is being taken care of by his family at his home in Cairo. Omar's son Tarek Sharif first revealed his father's diagnosis in an interview with Spain's El Mundo over the weekend.
"It's difficult to determine what stage it's at," he told the newspaper. "It's obvious he'll never improve and it will get worse."
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Omar Sharif has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
Omar, who was born in Alexandria in Egypt, won two Golden Globes and an Oscar nomination for his role as Sherif Ali in the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia. He won another Golden Globe three years later for Doctor Zhivago.
"He still knows he's a famous actor," Tarek added. "The loss of memory affects above all specific things, details like when he was in specific place or who he acted with in a specific film.
"He remembers, for example, that it was Doctor Zhivago but he's forgotten when it was filmed. He can talk about the film but he forgets its name or he calls it something else instead like Lawrence of Arabia."
Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali in the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia
Omar rose to international stardom with Lawrence of Arabia – his first English-language film, and followed up his breakthrough performance with the titular role in Doctor Zhivago alongside Julie Christie. He also notably played Fanny Brice's husband Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl opposite Barbra Streisand. His most recent film credit is the 2013 French-Moroccan film Rock the Kasbah.
In 1996, Omar started writing a column for The Observer and spoke about his decision to move back home to Egypt. "For many years, I felt I had lost my identity," he said. "I was a foreigner everywhere.
Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago
"When I came to Cairo and saw childhood friends, it made me realise that I want to spend my last years here. I want an old man's routine, to sit and chat about the past with people who remember."