Soad Hosny, c. 1969
Soad Muhammad Kamal Hosny Kamal El Baba
January 26, 1943
|Died||June 21, 2001 (aged 58)|
Soad Hosny (Arabic: سعاد حسني, pronounced [soˈʕæːd ˈħosni]; January 26, 1943 – June 21, 2001) was an Egyptian actress born in Cairo. She was known as the "Cinderella of Egyptian cinema" and one of the most influential actresses in the Middle East and the Arab world. She ascended to stardom at the end of the 1950s, performing in more than 83 films between 1959 and 1991. A majority of her films were shot in the 1960s and 1970s. Her final screen appearance was in the 1991 film, The Shepherd and the Women, directed by her ex-husband, Ali Badrakhan.
Soad Muhammad Kamal Hosny was born in Bulaq district in Cairo, Egypt. She was one of three sisters born to prominent calligrapher Mohammad Hosni and his second wife, an Egyptian woman called Gawhara. She also had eight half-siblings from her father's first marriage. Her parents divorced and her mother remarried, to an Egyptian man, Abdul Monem Hafeez, with whom she had six more children, thus giving Soad and her two sisters no fewer than 14 half-siblings.
Her father's household was known as "the artists' home" because leading artists from across the Arab world regularly visited Hosni's home in Cairo for tuition and social interaction with the master calligrapher. Her father, whose artistic output included the production of frames for the silent movies and book covers, was well known across the artistic community. A number of his children became performance artists. Soad's half-sister, Najat, was an actress and singer. Her half-brother, Ezz Eddin Hosni (1927–2013), was a music composer and taught both Soad and Najat music and singing. Another sibling, Sami Hosni became a cello player, jewellery designer and also calligrapher. while yet another brother, Farooq, was a painter and his daughter Samira was also an actress.
At the age of three, she began her career when she sang in the popular children's TV program, Papa Sharo. Her work included a wide range of genres – from light comedies and romances through to political satire. Her film debut was in Hasan and Naeima (1959). Her most well-known role was that of a college student who fell in love with her professor in the film, Khali Balak min Zouzou Watch Out for ZouZou (1974). Other important film crs include the role of a student and political activist, who was tortured in Al-Karnak; based on the novel by Naguib Mahfouz. In the film, Shafika she transformed the musical numbers into scathing satires which gave voice to the oppressed. For this and her other hard-hitting, politically relevant roles, she was seen as part of the intelligentsia.
During her lifetime, she was known as the "Cinderella of the screen". She starred in films of every important Egyptian director during the 60s and 70s and played women in complex plots. In her later career, she played women who had been abused or victimised.
Soad Hosny was married four times. Around 1968, she was married to cinematographer Salah Kurayyem; the marriage lasted for approximately one year. In 1970, Hosny was married to the Egyptian film director Ali Badrakhan ; this marriage lasted for approximately eleven years. She was then married to Zaki Fateen Abdel-Wahab, son of Fateen Abdel Wahab and Leila Mourad in 1981. This marriage lasted only five months.
On June 21, 2001, Soad Hosny died after falling from the balcony of her friend Nadia Yousri's apartment in Stuart Tower building in London. Her death was surrounded in controversy, with authorities initially failing to provide details of how she fell; an omission that fuelled media speculation and rumours that her death may have been a suicide or murder, rather than accidental. Soad's body was flown home to Cairo and her funeral in Cairo was attended by some 10,000 people. She was buried in a family's plot of land on the outskirts of Cairo. She had no children and was survived by her last husband, writer Maher Awad, whom she married in 1987.
In 2013, Lebanese filmmaker Rania Stephan used snippets from Hosny's films to re-tell Hosny's story and the history of Egyptian cinema in The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosny. It was featured in Berlin's Art Week. The Three Disappearances is an important archive, which while following the chronology of Hosni's career, simultaneously documents the costumes, sets and styles used from the 1950s to the 1990s, a period that marked the peak and decline of Egyptian cinema.
She appeared in more than 80 films.
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