Legendary Egyptian actress Soheir Al Bably, renowned for her theatrical and cinematic performances, died on Sunday at 86.
In a statement by Soheir Al Bably’s son-in-law, Reda Taima, the actress was admitted to an intensive care unit in Egypt days ago and had fallen into a diabetic coma.
Born in 1937 in the Damietta Governorate of Egypt, Al Bably grew up in Mansoura, capital of the Dakhalia Governorate. Her talents for acting and music became evident at a young age and she was encouraged by her father to join the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts as well as the Institute of Music.
Al Bably began her career at a young age and during the peak of Egypt’s golden age of cinema. Her earliest film credits include the 1957 drama Ighra (Temptation) by celebrated Egyptian director Hassan Al Imam. She starred in the film alongside Lebanese singer Sabah and Egyptian actors Shukri Sarhan and Zaki Rostom. That same year, Al Bably starred in another, more somber film Sara’ Ma’ Al Hayat (Struggle with Life). She released dozens of films for the next four decades. She retired from acting in 1997, but returned in 2006 with the series Qalb Habiba (A Lover’s Heart).
Al Bably was as accomplished in television, acting in several well-known Egyptian shows including the 2014 Ramadan series Suska’s Law. However, the role that she is likely most known for her role as Bakiza in the critically-acclaimed 1986 Egyptian series Bakiza and Zaghloul. Al Bably’s portrayal of the high-strung upper brow Bakiza is seen as her crowning work as a comic artist. The series was later adapted into the 1988 film The Night of Bakiza and Zaghloul’s Arrest with Al Bably reprising her opposite Esaab Younes’s Zaghloul, a daughter-in-law Bakiza meets only after her husband’s death.
Al Bably’s most known theatrical effort is the 1980 comedy Raya and Sakina. The play revolves around the Egyptian sisters Raya and Sakina, who in the early 20th century murdered at least 17 women in Alexandria. They were tried and executed in December 1921.
Al Bably was married five times. She was first married to Mahmoud Al Naqouri, with whom she had her only daughter Niveen. She was also married to singer Munir Murad, businessmen Ashraf Al Sirjani and Mahmoud Ghoneim. Her last husband was the Egyptian actor Ahmed Khalil.
Al Bably’s methodical approach to the craft and her fluid, unstrained performances cements Al Bably’s legacy as one of Egypt’s finest triple-threat actors, and a pillar of Egyptian cinema, television and theatre.
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