Omar Sharif/

I'd rather be playing bridge than making a bad movie

It is one of the most famous sequences in movie history.

He appears first as a dot on the horizon of the desert. Is it as mirage? No. Slowly, it becomes clear the approaching figure is the impressive sight of a sheikh riding on a camel. This is no mirage.

This was the entrance of Omar Sharif in the 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia. It also marked the arrival of the Egyptian born actor, already a famous name in his homeland, as a full-blown Hollywood star.

With his brooding good looks, many saw him a new Valentino. He went onto star in Hollywood hits including Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl.
He remained a huge star for years and was a hit with women both on and off screen. “I don't know what women are attracted to,” he said modestly, “but certainly I have no notion about having any sex appeal.”

In later life, he became known for his love of bridge, writing regular newspaper columns on the card game. He was also a keen chess player.

Yet in 2006, he gave up his favourite game, as well as roulette, after notoriously losing £750,000 in one night.

“I didn't want to be a slave to any passion anymore,” he said of his pursuits.

The actor won international awards for his contribution to world cinema and cultural diversity. Although decades have passed since his acting heyday, Omar Sharif is still regarded as among the greats of cinema history.