Earlier last month, Christopher Lee, an icon from the classic era cinema, departed from the world, leaving an ever-lasting legacy and a slew of memorable characters. Less than a month later just a few days ago, we lost yet another charismatic legend from the same era: Omar Sharif.

Born as Michel Demitri Chalhoub in 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt to a Catholic family, he later changed his name to Omar Sharif, and in 1955 converted to Islam so he could marry his frequent co-star and fellow Egyptian, Faten Hamama. The two separated in 1966 and ultimately divorced in 1974. She remarried but he never did, stating that after the divorce he never fell in love with another woman. He died a widower, but leaves behind one son, Tarek El-Sharif, whom he had with Faten Hamama in 1957.

Omar Sharif started his acting career in 1954, with a role in Shaytan Al-Sahra, or Devil of the Desert. It was the lead role in Sira Fi Al-Wadi, or Struggle in the Wadi, that was released in the same year however, that propelled him into stardom. His classically dark Middle Eastern looks soon turned him into a household name in his native Egypt. It was also the first of the many films in which he and Fatan Hamama starred as romantic leads. Throughout the fifties and early sixties, Omar Sharif starred in many successful Egyptian productions, few of which were listed in the Top 150 Egyptian Films of All Time.

In 1962 Omar Sharif starred in his first English-speaking role: Sharif Ali in David Lean's epic, Lawrence of Arabia. No stranger to the sprawling deserts, his introduction scene is considered one of the most iconic moments in film industry. Widely considered as one of the greatest movies of all time, Omar Sharif's performance as the charismatic sheik – itself hailed among the finest acting in the history of cinema – earned him his first and only Academy Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actor. Throughout the sixties he became a popular fixture in Hollywood, playing as diverse character as that of a priest (1964's Behold a Pale Horse), conqueror (1965's Genghis Khan), German officer (1967's The Night of the General), Crown Prince (1968's Mayerling), and an iconic revolutionary (1969's Che!).

It was his role as that of a doctor in 1965's Doctor Zhivago however, that cemented his status as a legendary actor. It was perhaps the second most important film of his English-speaking career (after Lawrence of Arabia), as Omar Sharif reunited with director David Lean and fellow actor Alec Guinness, who plays the part of his half-brother. Though the initial reaction to the film was mixed, in later years it has gained a more positive standing with movie-goers and is generally seen as among David Lean's best films. Omar Sharif's role as the romantic physicist, Dr. Yuri Zhivago, earned him his third and final Golden Globe Award.

Besides acting, he was also a renowned contract bridge player, a type of trick-taking card game, and was once listed among the top 50 bridge players in the world. A lifelong gambler, it's no wonder, then, that his role as Nick Arnstein in William Wyler's 1968 Funny Girl was a perfect, natural fit. Though Barbra Streisand owned the film by her Academy Award-winning performance as Fanny Brice, Omar Sharif once again showed his diverse acting range as well as his power to enlighten the screen and made all of his scenes just as unforgettable. In 1992, he gave permission to use his name on a video game called "Omar Sharif on Bridge" which was released on the Amiga and MS-DOS. It is still being circulated on Windows computers to this day.

In May of this year, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His son commented that his father would often mix-up his films and where they were filmed. On 10th July, he died of a heart attack in Cairo, Egypt - less than six months after the death of Faten Hamama, the only woman he ever loved. He was 83.

The brilliance of Omar Sharif was that he was able to undertake any role with honesty and affection. He had the charm and talent to spin the character to his liking and add his own sense of tangible humanity into the roles – even if most of his later films did not achieve the critical acclaim of his fellow actors and contemporaries. In his obituary of Charlton Heston, noted film critic Roger Ebert said, "Heston made at least three movies that almost everybody eventually sees: Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes." The same maxim is true for Omar Sharif and of his roles as a shiek, doctor and gambler, charismatic all, in three of the most important films of his career: Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl.